Thursday, June 12, 2014

Throwback Thursday: What I'd Be Watching

On Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere, people often celebrate "Throwback Thursday," in which they post pictures, memories, or comments that take a nostalgic look backward. When it comes to television, I often wish I could throw back some of the inane reality shows of today, in favor of some of my favorite Thursday night classics. 

Marx and George Fenneman.
Thursdays were always a good night for comedy -- if you worked a 9 to 5 job, you were probably coming into the homestretch of a long week, and could use a good laugh. For much of the 1950s, NBC "and your DeSoto-Plymouth dealers" had you covered with Groucho Marx's quiz show You Bet Your Life. Although the contestants did compete for prize money, the real appeal here was Groucho's trademark wit, and his wry exchanges with the quirky people who turned up each week. Who else would interview a tree surgeon and ask, "Tell me, have you ever fallen out of a patient?"

In the 1960s, Screen Gems (later to be known as Columbia Pictures Television) was one of the world's most successful sitcom factories, and gave birth to two Thursday-night favorites. Hazel, seen on NBC, was a warm, gentle show about the suburban Baxter family, whose lives were completely dominated by their maid. The lead character, who always knew what was best for everyone, could have been hard to take if she hadn't been played by the Oscar, Tony, and Emmy-winning Shirley Booth, who made her endearing even when she was in the midst of driving the Baxters nuts.

And what Baby Boomer kid didn't look forward to Thursday nights to see Samantha Stephens twitch up a good time on ABC's Bewitched? I don't know about you, but the only thing better than having Hazel clean up my messy house would be developing my own magic powers, like the beautiful witch of Morning Glory Circle. I've been hoping for those powers for years, and I haven't given up yet.

What were your Thursday night classic TV favorites?


  1. Wow--I think having Hazel in my house, much as I would LOVE to have a maid these days, would have driven me around the bend--I'm sort of surprised sometimes that Mr. B didn't just stroke out on her. She was most certainly the mold they used for Magda, the in-house help for Miranda on Sex in the City.

  2. She's quite a strong personality, no question about that. Perhaps the angriest Mr. B ever gets is one incident in which he calls her "an interfering busybody" and makes her cry. Mel Brooks supposedly said, "If a maid ever took over my house like Hazel, I'd set her hair on fire." Thanks - enjoyed your comment.