Monday, January 18, 2010

True Confessions

Meredith Cole directed feature films and wrote screenplays before writing mysteries. She won the St. Martin’s/Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery competition, and her first book, Posed for Murder, was published by St. Martin’s Minotaur in February 2009. Her next book, Dead in the Water, will come out in May 2010. She teaches screenwriting and mystery writing. And she's very glad to be guest blogging again at Criminal Minds.

I have a confession to make. My parents didn’t own a TV when I was a kid. It made playing TV tag a total embarrassment. Every time I got tagged, I would try to remember shows I’d seen at someone’s house, but I'd often end up repeating myself.

Most of my childhood was spent finding other ways to amuse myself. I read a lot. I drew paper dolls with huge extended families, large wardrobes and complicated biographies. I rode my bike, roller skated, and learned how to dance to the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. But when my parents split up, my father started a television repair business. Suddenly his house was full of TVs, and I had some catching up to do.

My father (who is British) made sure to introduce me to Monty Python and Benny Hill at an early age. We watched M*A*S*H together, too, even though I think quite a bit of it went over my head. I never did come to like Benny Hill much, but I developed a life-long appreciation for Monty Python.

So what was my favorite show? When I thought it over, sadly none of the great TV classics popped into my head. Instead, it was The Love Boat.

When I was in fifth grade, my friend Betsy and I would watch the show at our respective houses, and talk on the phone during the whole episode. We would predict who was going to fall in love (the doctor almost always got involved with a woman--it's a good thing there weren't too may medical emergencies on board), and discussed the pros and cons of each relationship. It was like a story and character analysis seminar conducted by eleven-year-old girls.

What made The Love Boat so entertaining for me? Even now I’m not sure. Maybe it was its predictability. The boat sailed at the beginning of each episode, people fell in love and and broke-up, but in the end they all returned to homeport. Despite each episode having multiple story lines, I can’t remember a single plot point going unresolved. It had a satisfying symmetry to it, kind of like a mystery novel. And kind of like life.

So--what was your favorite childhood TV show?


Jen Forbus said...

Hi Meredith! Oh, I was a TV junkie when I was growing up. And I was a walking television guide. I knew what was on when - at all times.

My sisters and I were crazy about THE DUKES OF HAZZARD. I loved MAGNUM PI, as well as many other P.I. shows - RIPTIDE, SIMON AND SIMON, JAKE AND THE FATMAN. I was a big CAGNEY AND LACEY fan. And I also loved M.A.S.H. but didn't fully appreciate it until college when I would watch the re-runs every night at 11. I now own several of those seasons on DVD. Our whole family also enjoyed THE COSBY SHOW.

But to this day, I still think my all-time favorite show has to be MOONLIGHTING. I watched it religiously and four seasons on DVD. Going back now and seeing all the people that guested on that show is rather humorous. AND Bruce Willis had hair! ;)

Thanks for the reminiscing this morning. A good way to start a Monday!

Alan Orloff said...

Oh man, so many "great" shows. Aside from all the cop and PI shows, I liked a few sci fi shows: Star Trek, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. But if I had to pick one, I'll go with Kolchak, The Night Stalker. Very cheesy, very good!

PK the Bookeemonster said...

Remington Steele started when I was in junior high. Ah, Pierce Brosnan (I can still do the opening monologue). Emergency! was a fave, Star Trek (the original one then) and later Next Gen., V, Battlestar Galactica (the original), Streets of San Fransisco, Miami Vice, Magnum, Quantum Leap,etc.
It wasn't my favorite show but I remember that I wasn't allowed to watch Soap because it was too controversial. Very tame by today's standards.

Meredith Cole said...

You guys are all bringing back some great memories! I used to watch The Dukes of Hazard religiously. And I got into Star Trek Next Generation later in life.

You're making me want to go back and check out Moonlighting again, Jen...

Sophie Littlefield said...

oh meredith, i too grew up without a TV until my teen years and then i too fell for the Love Boat! And even then, before i understood sexual dynamics etc. etc., I could never imagine falling for the doc. even now I'm thinkin geeeehhhhhh. Fantasy Island wasn't bad...but Love Boat will always be my favorite!

Meredith Cole said...

I remember watching Fantasy Island, Sophie, but I think the whole manipulation thing was a bit disturbing. At least on Love Boat, no one was experimenting on them--they got to make bad choices on their own.

pantomime said...

As a child of the ´50s it was an adventure to watch TV in the UK, our signal was received from the Brighton Booster which meant every programme was watched through a blizzard. My favourite were the science fiction, i.e. The Quatermass Experiment and a thriller serial by Francis Durbridge called, "Portrait of Allison".

These days I love anything which is a murder mystery/thriller, i.e. Criminal Minds, Bones, Cold Case, starting to overdose on the CSI series.

Kelli Stanley said...

I liked The Love Boat and Fantasy Island, too--I was a sucker for the aging stars that would guest (Cyd Charisse as Roarke's old love? COOL!!) ;) And Annette Funicello possessed by her own puppet (played by Maren Jensen)?!

OK, clearly I have some brain cells that need to be scrubbed and reused. ;)

And I adored Moonlighting--watched it religiously--and remember seeing the pilot and thinking how cool (and sexy and romantic) it all was.

And Soph, at least Doc was marginally better than Gopher. ;) Remember the episode when Hailey Mills plays his dream girl? ;)

Thanks for another wonderful post, Meredith--it's great to have you here!



Joshua Corin said...

I went through a few months where I was completely addicted to The Love Boat. I think I had a crush on the cruise director. Plus it always excited me to see Mrs. Cunningham outside of Milwaukee. I am such a fan of cognitive dissonance.

Unknown said...

I don't have the Love Boat/Fantasy Island/Dynasty gene. Perhaps because as a kid I loved Columbo, Burke's Law, T.H.E Cat, The Persuaders, Maverick, The Prisoner, Banacek, Twilight Zone, Night Gallery (which started to veer toward Love Boat territory at the end there...)

Favorite T.V. memory is my dad hiding at the end of the hall so no one would see him watching Bugs Bunny and the Roadrunner/ Wiley Coyote with my little brother and me.

We protested once, when they moved the original Star Trek to a late night time. We marched up and down the hall chanting for our right to see Star Trek. My parents were NOT amused, but it is one of the few times they gave in :)

Gabi said...

What a surprising choice -- not just the show but how you turned it into a psychological profiling group session. Love to know what you watch now.

Shane Gericke said...

Funny thing about MASH, Meredith. I loved it when it first came out; wouldn't miss it. But I started watching it again recently on reruns, and everything is so stale now, and fairly preachy, especially the shows near the end of the run. I shouldn't have watched them again and spoiled my memory !