I saw the most fascinating thing on PBS the other day.
Hold on. Does that make me sound pretentious? Because though my nearest and dearest do refer to me as their "fancy friend," I don't think they'd call me pretentious. At least, I hope not - although one of them did say last week that going with me to a restaurant is like seeing a movie with a film critic. Wasn't sure exactly how to take that.
I've recently rediscovered this often-skipped channel on my TV. With my new love affair with "Downton Abbey" (Can you believe how they ended the season?) and the anticipation of the upcoming "Mr. Selfridge" with Jeremy Piven, it has become a stop on my on-screen guide when scanning for something decent to watch.
PBS was a regular stop on the TV dial growing up.
Maybe it had something to do with the fact that through most of my childhood we only had six channels to choose from - but, regardless, PBS was on frequently.
I was a first-generation "Sesame Street" viewer back in the pre-Elmo days, when Mr. Hooper was behind the counter of Hooper's Store and Mr. Snuffleupagus was still a figment of Big Bird's imagination. The Count and Cookie Monster were my favorites, though Bert and Ernie were close behind. I wasn't sure what to make of Elmo when I started watching with my boys, but since they both where completely enamored with him, I jumped on the Elmo bandwagon.
My sister and I watched "The Electric Company." Looking back now, that show was filled with stars: Bill Cosby, Rita Moreno, Morgan Freeman, Mel Brooks and Victor Borge, doing his phonetic punctuation. Even my boys got a kick out of that when my mom shared a video of this with them.
I remember being somewhat obsessed with "Zoom." I so wanted to wear a striped rugby shirt and be on that show! "Come on and zoom zoom zooma zoom!" I had the "Do a Zoom Do" book that showed me all sorts in cool things to learn and do. I think that's where I learned the alphabet in sign language.
We watched "Captain Kangaroo" and "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," though they were not my favorites. Even then, I talked too fast to listen to their slow cadence. And honestly, I found the puppets kind of unnerving. They really creeped me out.
When our shows were over, the channel gave way to our parents' viewing choices. "The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour" was our regular dinner backdrop. You'd think I would have been a little more clued into the world around me with that show informing every night. Clearly, I was not fully tuned in.
I have a vague recollection of my mom watching Julia Child on "The French Chef," but nothing made me leave a room faster than hearing the "Masterpiece Theater" theme song. Maybe that was part of my parents' master plan: drive the children away from the TV, forcing them to find something else to do, like read a book. "Evening at Pops" elicited a similar reaction.
"This Old House" was a Sunday staple, even through the tumultuous departure of Bob Vila. I loved watching as, week by week, a house was transformed. There were always surprises that had to be creatively fixed by Norm Abram and Tommy Silva. This was my introduction to the native tongue of the Bostonian. I think I could sufficiently tell someone how to shore up a sagging wall as long as I adopt the proper accent.
My parents are huge fans of British comedies such as "Fawlty Towers" and "Blackadder." To this day, they still host Fawlty festivals with their friends, having dinner and watching episodes of the show on videotape. I hope by now they've upgraded to DVDs. If not, note to self: Christmas present idea!
So, I hope my rekindled affection for PBS doesn't put anyone off. I really don't think it makes me a snob, particularly if you balance it out with some of my other viewing habits, such as E! Entertainment News and "Dancing With the Stars."
Just think of it as an old friend I've become reacquainted with and remembered how much I enjoyed. Good times.
Linda Stamper Boyne, of Edwards, can be contacted through firstname.lastname@example.org