memories of the ’70s – A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Since the Peanuts gang was particularly fond of holidays, Charles Schulz created A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, which aired for the first time in 1973.

As the 10th animated special starring Charlie Brown and friends, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, it starts with a classic scene of Lucy holding the football for Charlie, but of course, pulling it away at the last minute.

But the real story is Charlie’s dilemma over Thanksgiving, where he’s supposed to head off with the family to dinner at his Grandmother’s house, but he has Peppermint Patty, Marcie and Franklin inviting themselves over for dinner.

So thanks to Linus, Charlie is hosting dinner, with the help of chefs Snoopy and Woodstock, with a quick discussion of the American story of the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving. But dinner isn’t a success and Patty blames Charlie, but cooler heads prevail and all the kids head to Grandmother’s house, while Snoopy and Woodstock enjoy a traditional dinner of their own.

Featuring music by Vince Guaraldi and the voices of Bill Melendez, Todd Barbee, Stephen Shea, Hilary Momberger, Robin Kohn and Christopher DeFaria, the special is sweet, sentimental and has a lesson, an atypical Peanuts special.

First aired on November 20, 1973, the Thanksgiving tv special has aired every year in November on CBS until 2001, where it has since aired every year on ABC TV. And no matter what, certain traditions are just too good to not have.

memories of the ’80s – Newhart

Comedian Bob Newhart returned to the small screen in the 1980s to welcome back his old audience and bring in a new fanbase with his sitcom Newhart.

Newhart’s new show debuted on CBS in October 1982, paired with actress Mary Frann as a couple who owns an  inn in rural Vermont and are surrounded by an odd group of friends, employees and guests.

Newhart plays DIY author Dick Loudon and Frann plays Joanna, both who moved from New York City to small town Vermont. The supporting cast included Tom Poston as George the handyman, Jennifer Holmes and Julia Duffy as rich sisters Leslie and Stephanie who take jobs at the inn for a lark.

Three other unique characters included Larry, Darryl and Darryl, backwoodsmen who live in a shack and soon become regulars to hang out at the inn, played by William Sanderson, Tony Papenfuss and John Volstad.

Newhart once again showed off Bob Newhart’s low key comedic style, letting the cast be the dramatic foil to his quiet demeanor. Eventually Newhart starts a tv show in Vermont, showcasing the DIY and the rural life.

Int he top 20 for almost all of its eight season run, Newhart was a tv viewer favourite, a sitcom that looked at small town life, with a unique view, and certainly let the crazy characters almost steal the show.

memories of the ’70s – The Bob Newhart Show

A well-known comedian in the 1960s, Bob Newhart took his low-key brand of laughs and created a sitcom for the 1970s: The Bob Newhart Show.

Newhart played psychologist Dr. Bob Hartley, with his wife Emily played by Suzanne Pleshette and his best buddy Howard played by Bill Daily. Marcia Wallace played Carol, a smartass receptionist.

Despite stiff competition from other networks sitcoms, including MASH, Maude and Sanford and Son, fans of the comedian loved his 30 minute show. Each episode opened with a monologue by Newhart, speaking on the phone to a patient.

There were several recurring patient characters that became favourites including Elliot Carlin, a seemingly normal person who created problems, Mrs Lillian Bakerman who avoided talking about anything concrete but knitted constantly or Michelle Nardo who would do all the talking during the session.

Debuting in September 1972 for CBS Television, the straight man efforts of Bob Newhart as he dealt with his family, friends, colleagues and patients were popular with viewers. The show was steady in the top 20 for several seasons, thanks to being in the time slot after The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

The show received several Emmy nominations but never won. But for fans of comedian Bob Newhart, this weekly show was a treat in his unique comedic style.

memories of the ’70s – The Waltons

In the early 1970s, there was one family we spent time with weekly: The Waltons.

Based on the book Spencer’s Mountain written by Earl Hamner Jr, the series (also created by Hamner) focused on the life of a rural Virginia family through the Depression and World War II.

A 1963 film, Spencer’s Mountain was produced and directed by Delmer Davies, and starred Henry Fonda and Maureen O’Hara.

The television series debuted as a tv movie The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, airing December 19, 1971. The hour long drama debuted on CBS TV in September 1972, although with different actors playing John and Olivia Walton – Andrew Duggan and Patricia Neal. They were replaced by Ralph Waite and Michael Learned for the series. Grandpa and Grandma Walton were played by Edgar Bergen and Ellen Corby.

Told from the point of view of the eldest son John-boy Walton, the series showed what is was like for families surviving the depression, and the changes that occurred from 1933 and during the war years of the 1940s.

Each episode would be narrated by John-boy, who was 17 when the series starts, played by Richard Thomas. His six siblings were Jason, Mary Ellen, Erin, Ben, Jim-Bob and Elizabeth.

Showing a wholesome family with traditional American values in the early 1970s, CBS put the series opposite tough opponents in the same 8pm timeslot, The Flip Wilson Show and The Mod Squad.

At the time the US Government had criticized televison and held congressional hearings into the current state of television. Many of the actors thought the series would be ignored by the viewing public, and created to appease the government.

Although it didn’t get the top 10 ratings in the first season, the series was recognized for the amazing acting, awarding Richard Thomas and Michael Learned repeated Emmy nominations and awards.

After its first year, the series earned a Peabody Award, for its showcase of issues. The series may not have fixated on the extremes of life, but it did show the despair, poverty, alcoholism and hardship that came from surviving that period of American history.

Viewers were enamored of the life the Waltons led, as much as the folksy camradererie of three generations of family that lived under the same roof – and the learned to deal with the changing world.

And as dedicated viewers know, for 10 seasons, every night, the bedtime chatter always ended with evening greetings – Good night John-boy.

memories of the ’70s – Josie and the Pussycats

From the colourful pages of a comic book, the characters Josie and the Pussycats jumped into the world of television animation in the early 1970s.

Created by Dan DeCarlo, the characters were transformed for the small screen by Hanna Barbera in 1970, after the success of The Archie Show.

Featuring an all girl band, the series, which aired on CBS,  focused on their escapades solving mysteries and meetings spies as they travelled the world on tour with their entourage, always finding adventure.

Led by lead singer Josie, bubble headed drummer Melody and level-headed Valerie, the girls were on the road with their manager Alexander, his sister (and the band’s nemesis) Alexandra and their roadie Alan. Each episode featured a song by the band, usually to the backdrop of some chase, and the girls wore matching leopard outfits on stage.

Valerie became the first African-American female character portrayed in a Saturday morning cartoon series. Sixteen episodes were made for television.

Re-run in 1971, the series was reimagined for 1972, putting the girls in a different arena: Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space. Sent into space by Alexandra, the girls were now focused on surviving space and avoid being kidnapped by aliens.

Sixteen episodes were made, and re-run in 1973, after which CBS cancelled the series. But the re-runs lived on, shown on NBC Saturday Morning cartoon line-up in 1976.

These girls played music, had fun and solved a mystery – as well as broke ground in the world of television and animation.

memories of the ’70s – Vinnie Barbarino

In the mid 1970s, a tv character became a household name: Vinnie Barbarino.

Debuting in September 1975, Welcome Back Kotter was an ABC-TV sitcom about a highschool teacher, played by Gabe Kaplan, who dealt with a bunch of unruly unique students in a Bronx highschool.

One of the students was Vinnie Barbarino, played by new to the small screen John Travolta.

As one of the Sweathogs, Barbarino was a loud-mouth with a big ego and a lot of bravado. He was their leader, a heartthrob and had lots of attitude.

He had the curly shaggy hair, the mischievious smile and the tight jeans and denim jacket to lure the girls and show off to his buddies.

His character became incredibly popular with viewers, especially because of his unique swagger, and his unique sayings, like “up your nose with a rubber hose”, “I’m so confused…” and “what? where? why?” his patent response to not wanting to do something.

As he often became love-stricken, accentuating his Italian-American stereotype, he would howl “waahh-ha-ha-howwww…”! And he would always say “but I’m Vinnie Barbarino.”

Everything was said with his particular unique accent, and with a lot of body language – he would swagger, gesture and constantly flip his hair. And viewers loved him.

For this decade, this character became a sex symbol – which certainly didn’t hurt when John Travolta decided to move on to the big screen.

memories of the ’80s – Hart to Hart

In the early 1980s, a wealthy couple decides they want to help others as they investigate crimes in the series Hart to Hart.

Starring Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers, the duo were created by author Sidney Sheldon, who worked with producers Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg.

Spelling and Goldberg had heard of the Sheldon script which was focused on a couple who were both spies. Turning the idea over to writer Tom Mankiewicz, the storyline was modernized to become Jonathan and Jennifer Hart, two Los Angeles based jetsetters who with the help of their sidekick Max, use their amateur detective status to catch the bad guys.

Debuting in August 1979 on ABC, the charm of Robert Wagner and the funny warmth of Stefanie Powers soon drew in viewers.

The Harts find themselves at the beginning of each episode in their Gulf Stream private jet, and are soon helping friends and aquaintances with crimes like blackmail, murder, theft, assassination, drug-running and slavery.

Each episode showed off the lavish lifestyle of the wealthy, from Rolls Royces and Mercedes Benz to yachts, summer homes, ski chalets, mountain lodges, big city apartments and plenty of accessories from jewellery to clothing to the latest gadgets.

Within an hour viewers were treated to a glimpse of the lifestyles of the rich and famous as well as the Harts figuring out the crime and whodunnit. By season three, Hart to Hart had millions of fans, but in its fifth season, ABC cancelled the series due to low ratings.

As someone who liked a bit of the glamour of the show, I appreciated seeing all the lavish trappings of the so-called A list life, even if the storylines weren’t always as intricate and easily figured out.