While recently watching the new X-Files movie, I started thinking about TV shows I’ve enjoyed throughout my life. I usually don’t watch much TV, and when I do, there’s a good chance that it’ll be something animated, not live action. Blame that to lots of little brothers and kids and just the fact that, well, I like cartoons. If I’m going to watch something on TV, it’s going to be as far from reality as possible. Plus, I really don’t watch TV much anyway since most of what I do on it is play video games. However, over the years there have been some live action TV shows that I’ve really enjoyed, and I thought I’d share my memories of them with you.
But first, before we get started, a disclaimer. Some of the shows on this list are ones I might’ve enjoyed when I was younger, but not now. But I’m still putting them on this list anyway. At the very least, it’ll make the list seem more substantial.
The Dukes of Hazzard
This is a prime example of a show I loved as a kid, but can’t stand now. A couple of years ago I tried to watch this show on CMT or TNN or something, and I just couldn’t make it through the whole episode. It was just too stupid. I know a couple of years ago they even made a Dukes of Hazzard movie, but considering the DVD version of it was ‘unrated’ and also considering some of the stars, I’m sure it wasn’t anything like the show. I’ve never seen the movie either. A few years ago they even made a Dukes of Hazzard video game but it sucked.
But man, when I was little, I loved that show. When I tell people that I liked Dukes of Hazzard when I was a kid, they all say, “Yeah, you only watched that show because of Daisy Duke.” Well, I was only like, 5, so uh, no. Like every other five year old, I wasn’t interested in girls, but I was interested in cars. And Dukes of Hazzard had lots and lots of car chases. And my favorite character was the General Lee, not any of the people.
When I was 5, as soon as I heard Waylan Jennings sing about the ‘Good ol’ boys’ on the TV, I ran to the kitchen to get my Pac-Man TV tray, and then ran to my room to get my Dukes of Hazzard Hot Wheels cars. Then I’d set them up in front of the TV and play with them on the tray while the show was on. Man I still wish I had those Dukes of Hazzard Hot Wheels. I had them all I think: the General Lee, Boss Hogg’s white car, Uncle Jesse’s Jeep, Cooter’s truck, and a couple of police cars.
Come to think of it, I think I remember my Dukes of Hazzard toys more than the TV show itself. I know one year for my birthday I think I got some Dukes of Hazzard pajamas, and at Christmas I got some Dukes of Hazzard coloring books and a Dukes of Hazzard Big Wheel (or a bike with training wheels, my memory’s a little fuzzy). But I think my worst Dukes of Hazzard toy was the slot car set I got one time. You know how in the show, they’d jump over ramps all the time? Well the slot car set had a ramp to jump over too. But how many times do you think the cars landed right back on the slots after jumping? That’s right, absolutely ZERO! I never could make them do a single lap.
Another show that came out about that time was kinda like Dukes of Hazzard, but for some reason, I didn’t get into that show as much. It was Knight Rider, and it had a talking car. And a neighbor kid had a Knight Rider Big Wheel that I was jealous about. Do they even make Big Wheels anymore?
Here’s another good example of a show I loved as a kid but don’t like much now. I’ve never really liked sitcoms (they’re all the same), but put a wisecracking alien puppet in there and apparently I’m sold. Funny thing is, as a kid I always thought ALF was pretty edgy humor-wise, but after watching a few episodes of the first season recently, I have to say it’s pretty tame by today’s standards. What’s funny though is that when some of my little brothers watched ALF, they LOVED it. One of them even asked for the second season DVD for his birthday!
Watching ALF now, it kind of reminds me of other kiddy sitcoms you might find on, say, The Disney Channel (i.e. Suite Life of Zack and Cody, iCarly, etc.). I can’t stand shows like that, but I guess they have their place for kids who don’t feel like watching cartoons or countless hours of SpongeBob. And really, they’re no different than stuff we had as a kid, like ALF, Saved by the Bell, or Diff’rent Strokes.
But yeah, when I was a kid, ALF was pretty big. One year for Christmas I asked for a talking ALF plush but never got it. But that’s OK because I didn’t need to have EVERYTHING I wanted for Christmas (never got those TRON Light Cycles either). I think there was also an ALF video game but I never played it because it was on the Sega Master System which I didn’t have. But that’s okay because I hear it wasn’t very good anyway. In ALF’s heyday, there was even a Saturday morning cartoon about ALF’s previous adventures on his home planet. Let me tell you, that cartoon was WEIRD! I have a DVD of that, too.
I was really into this show in high school and college, but stopped watching it whenever, later on, they started having more plot and character development in episodes. Who wants that stuff? All I wanted was to see Agents Mulder and Scully go to Smalltown USA, beat up the resident alien/ghost/monster, and then go back home. Mulder had to say something stupid and Scully would have to act all pissy and that’s all that was needed, really.
My favorite episode was one that I called the “Alien Abduction Episode” which doesn’t explain much from that. But it was basically a parody of the regular X-Files shows. Mulder ate ten slices of sweet potato pie while questioning a witness, the aliens smoked cigarettes and spoke English, and Alex Trebec from Jeopardy was one of the Men in Black (seriously). Another episode I liked was about a dumb teen kid who could control electricity. He used it to play video games and pull mean pranks, but got dangerous when he started stalking a former girlfriend. So Agents Mulder and Scully had to save the day. Another funny one was one about carnival freaks.
But yeah, in college was when I was into that show most. One time, my roommate’s girlfriend (now wife) got her hair cut short and she looked just like Agent Scully. My roommate and I didn’t want to tell her that, though, because we thought it would make her mad. But one day at the campus cafeteria we accidentally blurted it out. She was kinda mad at first, but when we showed her X-Files, she was like, “Wow, Agent Scully is cool!” That year for Halloween I tried to get them to dress up like Mulder and Scully and I could be the alien/ghost/whatever they’d have to fight, but they didn’t want to do that.
One year at E3 I actually got to meet the lady who played Agent Scully, but I just said hello and went on my way to my next meeting because she looked kind of tired and ready to go home. Strangely enough, even though I like X-Files I’ve never had any desire to play an X-Files video game.
Mystery Science Theater 3000
Not only is MST3K my favorite live action TV show, it’s my favorite TV show PERIOD! For those who don’t know, I suggest you do a search on the Internet about MST3K. But the short end of it is it’s a show about a guy who gets shot into space by some mad scientists. He’s trapped on a bone-shaped satellite and is forced to watch bad movies. A handful of hand-made robots join him as he watches the movies, so you watch the entire movie with them as their silhouettes sit on the bottom of the screen. During the movie, they make tons of HILARIOUS comments. It’s a laugh every second!
I enjoyed watching MST3K through high school on Comedy Central, then in college on the Sci-Fi Channel. It lasted for ten years and even had a movie in select theaters which I was lucky to see in college. Ten years is a long time for a TV show, but I wish it could’ve lasted forever. My favorite characters are Tom Servo the robot and the mad scientist sidekick TV’s Frank. In my opinion, MST3K is light years above and beyond anything else I’ve seen on TV. Ever.
Other Favorite Live Action Shows:
It’s hard for me to think of Muppets as live action, but I guess technically they are. And if I’m going to give credit to shows like ALF and MST3K, which are essentially puppets shows themselves, then I guess I’d better give credit to The Muppet Show as well. Although I have better memories of Fraggle Rock. Later in college they even had an updated show called Muppets Tonight that was pretty decent, too.
Before the Food Network, most of the cooking shows you’d see on TV were on PBS. Back then, sometimes I’d watch a cooking show called Yan Can Cook. I swear that guy was a ninja. He’d chop up that food lightning while juggling it while talking about the history of Asian mushrooms. It’s no wonder he ever chopped off a finger! I wonder what he’s doing now? Now that we have the Food Network, I like to watch Good Eats and the original Japanese Iron Chef. My favorite is Iron Chef Yellow. But we call him “Chef Sweaty” because, well…
I’ve also kind of enjoyed a few game shows here and there. Jeopardy with Alex Trebec is cool, but it always makes me feel stupid. They need to have a Namco category! The Price is Right makes me feel less stupid because all you need to know is how much groceries cost. And Bob Barker was cool. When I was little, I wanted the wheel they spin every half hour on that show for Christmas! Speaking of wheels, Wheel of Fortune was also fun because I like word puzzles. But my favorite game show has always been Press Your Luck. It requires no skill whatsoever aside from “Duh, I push da button” Big Money, Big Money, No Whammies! Speaking of Whammies, the guy who created and animated the Whammies was Steve “Savage” Holland, who wrote a few silly 80′s movies like Better Off Dead and also did one of my favorite 90′s Saturday morning cartoons: Eek the Cat. MXC is a guilty pleasure and that’s all we’ll say about that.
I also like to watch some educational shows on Discovery, Animal Planet, History, A&E, and the Travel Channel. Animal shows like Meerkat Manor are my mom’s favorite, and Jeff likes stuff like Mythbusters, but I like shows about UFOs, ghosts, and other stuff like Bigfoot. I don’t know if I actually believe in all that stuff, but it sure is fun to watch! And that’s about all the live action shows I can think of right now!
What are your favorite live action TV shows?