Saturday, June 09, 2007

they were the wonder years

What would you do if I sang out of tune .... Joe Cocker's impassioned voice ushered in the opening credits of The Wonder Years, one of the gifts of the old Star Plus (specifically the early 90s, but in general when no one would have thought that it would devolve into yet another Hindi channel). Of course, when I first caught the show, I didn't know who Joe Cocker was. I didn't even know this was a cover. I hadn't even heard Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (just how bad things were without the Internet and streaming audio could be the subject of an entire post). I loved the Beatles, but all I knew about their albums was what I read in books in the reference section of The British Library (A series of lucky hunts in small little music stores around town in Pune greatly help restore balance in the universe). I was clueless as a dead robin. But that didn't take away the appeal of the show. I remember awaiting each episode, remembering the characters and their quirks (this, I take it, is standard TV show viewer procedure that has seen new zeniths and nadirs thanks to the K-soaps and other detergents). Subconsciously, I was also getting an education in rock n' roll. The series boasted an extensive set of songs playing in the background; Tragically, the music rights have prevented this series from being released on DVD (the two best-of sets were watered-down sops).

In April 2007, ION Television began airing reruns on weekdays (Monday through Friday) with 2 episodes a day from 2200 to 2300 Eastern Time (Star Plus had pulled a similar move with their reruns of Star Trek:TOS. I plopped before the TV set excited to uncover old memories and see if the show had stood the test of time. While nostalgia hadn't embellished my memories of the show (Winnie Cooper blinking because of her contacts, Joe Cocker's cover, Turn! Turn! Turn!), a few things felt like fresh discoveries: I didn't remember the voiceover being so fast; the soft filters(?) that underscored the TV show sheen of the proceedings. It was also a relief to watch a show free of the one-liners, slickness and references to pop culture falling like raindrops that inundate a lot of the shows of today. But despite the joy of watching each episode, I tuned out after a couple of weeks. I had given up on television a long while ago, getting by with the occasional rerun of shows I watched while I still gave television its due. Perhaps there was a dim hope that this show would find me back before the idiot box, but that was not meant to be. Just as time changed the characters in the show, it had changed me. I should probably be glad I wasn't succumbing to the "evil of television," but I think I lost something valuable. Childhood's end perhaps.

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