While I sometimes wish that my life was more exciting than it really is, truth is my life is pretty pedestrian. Sure, I have occasional adventures to exotic places like Ecuador and Baltimore, but my day-to-day life lacks the sort of non-stop thrills present in the lives of, say, Keifer Sutherland in ‘24’ or David Hasslehoff in “Knight Rider”. I attribute this solely to my lack of a top-secret government job or a talking bulletproof car. I suspect that many of my generation feel somewhat similarly. As any red-blooded American – I have been searching for someone to blame my feelings of ennui. And I think I’ve found it…cable television.
Consider the following. TV shows of the baby boomers were designed to mollify them into the establishment. Let’s face it, shows like “Your Show of Shows” and “The Milton Berle Show” didn’t really have a lot of excitement inherent in their storylines. It wasn’t hard for our parents to transition from a childhood watching “The Perry Como Show” to living deeply fulfilled lives as accountants, pen cap polishers, or tweed inspectors. Later popular shows were oftentimes historical in nature – it didn’t take much to envision what your life would be like had you lived with the Ingalls family or the Cunninghams because there were people alive who had already been there, done that, got the t-shirt*.
But with the arrival of the 1980’s the networks started pumping more and more unreality into their fare. No longer were 10 years olds content to sit around watching Ed Bergen prattle on with (let’s be frank here) a couple of friggin creepy-looking puppets. No, we demanded cars that transformed into giant robots, talking stuffed animals that fired mysterious beams out of their stomachs, and a crack squad of real American heroes who would fight for freedom wherever there’s trouble against an international terrorist organization and its chrome-faced leader**. No wonder we struggle to find inspiration in desk jobs. We grew up believing that any kid could find himself in an adventure suddenly and without warning – just like the Goonies or those crazy nerds in Spacecamp. But these days I think the odds of my being lunched into space from my cubicle due to a thermal curtain failure are – at best – remote.
But that doesn’t keep me from imagining it though.
* “My grandpa built the Little House on the Prairie and all I got was this t-shirt”
** Except that nobody would ever die. Recruiting was probably a cakewalk for Flint, no wonder they could get any Hollywood celebrity to join up that they wanted. When was the last time you saw an NFL defensive tackle or WWE wrestler enlisting to go over to Iraq these days?