Hey millennials, don’t let anybody tell you that television was better in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s than it is today.
That is absolutely, completely, 100 percent not true. There has never been more good TV than there is today. And good shows today are better than most of the best shows then.
But c’mon, kids, don’t ignore old-timey TV just because it was produced before you were born. Don’t be blind to the fact that some of the greatest shows ever produced came out of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. And, in the next couple of weeks, take advantage of the chance to experience three shows you missed because of when you were born.
The Carol Burnett 50th Anniversary Special” (Sunday, 7 p.m., Ch. 2) • You youngsters probably don’t know what a variety show is, but they used to be big. Basically, the star would come out and welcome the audience, tell some jokes, and the rest of the hour was filled with songs, comedy sketches and big production numbers. And the original songs and lyrics for the production numbers were, in the better shows, like mini-Broadway musicals.
Burnett — a TV legend — entertained us for 279 episodes over 11 seasons. And her supporting cast — Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence, Lyle Waggoner and Tim Conway — was spectacular.
Yes, the sketches are 40-50 years old. But they’re timeless. I defy you not to laugh when Conway breaks his castmates up in the midst of a sketch.
The two-hour special features Burnett in the CBS Television City studio she called home for 11 years, reminiscing, taking questions, chatting with former castmates and celebrity fans, and introducing highlights and bloopers.
Watch it. You’ll enjoy it.
“I Love Lucy Christmas Special” (Friday, Dec. 22, 7 p.m., Ch. 2) • You’ve heard of this show, right? You know about Lucille Ball?
”I Love Lucy” set the template for TV comedy. And it’s still hilarious 66 years after it premiered.
Yes, it aired in black-and-white. But CBS has colorized episodes so younger generations will watch.
The first of two back-to-back installments, “The Christmas Episode” (original airdate: Dec. 24, 1956), isn’t one of the series’ best. But it is sweet and charming as Lucy, Ricky (Desi Arnaz), Fred (William Frawley) and Ethel (Vivian Vance) try to make the holiday magical for Little Ricky (Keith Thibodeaux). And there are flashbacks to other episodes that will give you a taste of how funny the show was.
In “The Fashion Show” (OAD: Feb. 24, 1955), Lucy spends too much money on a dress — and her plan to get out of the mess she creates is complicated by a bad case of sunburn.
There’s a reason CBS keeps airing colorized episodes of a sitcom that’s older than just about everybody who works there — millions tune in. Find out why.
“The Dick Van Dyke Show — Now in Living Color” (Friday, Dec. 22, 8 p.m.) • Yes, kids, this too has been colorized so you won’t have to watch all that gray. And the show’s creator, Carl Reiner (another TV legend), has chosen two outstanding episodes that prominently featured the late Mary Tyler Moore (another TV legend).
In “My Blonde-Haired Brunette” (OAD: Oct. 10, 1961), Laura Petrie (Moore) bleaches her dark hair blond because she fears the romance is going out of her marriage to comedy writer Rob (Van Dyke, another TV legend).
In “October Eve” (OAD: April 10, 1964), Laura is horrified when a painting — for which she posed fully clothed — surfaces as a nude in an art gallery. And Reiner, who recurred as Rob’s boss, variety show star Alan Brady, guest stars as the oddball artist.
A year ago, I insisted my twentysomething daughter — who had never seen an episode of “Dick Van Dyke” — watch the first two colorized episodes with me. She rolled her eyes and humored me. And she laughed. Quite a lot.
I’m telling you, kids, it’s funny stuff.