Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Dad Controls the Remote (or New Character Fun)


Today, we have a seemly unlimited supply of options when it comes to watching stuff on TV. Hundreds of cable/satellite channels, more streaming services than your pocketbook can keep up with, and pretty much every movie ever made available on some sort of digital platform. Not to mention the petabytes of content being produced every minute on YouTube. If you can't find something to watch, you're not trying.

Growing up, there were a grand total of 4 stations for those of us living in the country to choose from. If it wasn't on the local ABC, CBS, NBC, or PBS affiliate, you weren't watching it. If you were close to a major metropolitan area, you could probably get some of the unaffiliated stations. In the country, you may or may not get all of the stations in your current location, at least not without hoisting an external TV antenna aloft above the house. We got ABC, CBS, and PBS, and on a good day we sort of got NBC. Given the limited network choices, this obviously limited the viewing choices on any given night. And, as long as dad was at home, those choices were often dictated by him.

Don't get me wrong; with few exceptions we all enjoyed, at various levels, the televisions shows that we watched as a family. There were similarities in tastes in entertainment that were common among all members of the family. But, given a choice, my dad would choose a cop show or military drama over a science fiction or fantasy show, where I and my mom's interests tended to drift.

Some programs of choice, from my (albeit sometimes faulty memory) were the likes of T. J. Hooker (William Shatner trying to move on from Kirk), The A-Team, Mission: Impossible, Dallas, CHiPs, The Rockford Files, M*A*S*H, and Hogan's Heroes, with some comedy from the likes of Newhart, Mork & Mindy and The Love Boat as examples. Some were first-run at the time, others were syndicated reruns of older shows. These shows are integral in making up large parts of my personal taste in televised entertainment today.

For the record, when I say "Dad Controls the Remote", we didn't have a television with a remote until later in the 80s. So, my brother and I were the "remotes".

When my dad was working nights for a while, my mom and I (and my brother) got the run of the television for the night. While we did gravitate towards many of the same shows that we watched with dad, we also had the chance to change things up, and watch some of the more fantastical programming of the day. Shows like The Powers of Matthew Star, V, Starman, and Max Headroom, while they didn't often last longer than a season or two, did provide enjoyment and escape.

Of course, after-dark during the summer was my time to control the TV, and on Friday nights, it was invariably tuned to PBS for Friday night science fiction, which consisted of British imports like Red Dwarf, Blake's 7, and probably my personal favorite science fiction show of all time, Doctor Who.

Now, most of these shows are readily available on streaming platforms, for purchase, or running on any number of channels dedicated to syndicated classic programming. And I can relive my childhood memories in front of the television anytime I want.

Strip 91/166 - New characters on the scene

I really liked introducing new characters into the strip whenever I could. It always gives the comic a breath of fresh air. Of course, per my level of drawing aptitude, the designs were simple. Round dudes with arms gave me something to work with while making them easy to create.

Strip 92/166 - You need to be specific with these guys

Joke as old as time. Where am I? Right here. Duh. Be specific next time.

Strip 93/166 - If you don't get this gag, congratulations! You're not old.

This strip actually contains call-outs to two different pieces of entertainment from my youth. The second panel is actually a reference to a line from The Last Starfighter ("Welcome to Rylos, my boy!"). The rest of the strip is a shameless rip from the 80s comedy Newhart. For the uninitiated, three of the characters were brothers. The first brother would introduce them all using the same dialog I used in the strip as a running gag throughout the series, hence Furble's concern about breaking copyright laws. Yeah, I wouldn't worry too much about that.

Strip 94/166 - What are you, psychic or something?

This gag comes from the likes of the classic spy comedy Get Smart. Something else that I greatly enjoyed in reruns, as the series was off the air before I was even born. I do like how these different influences made their way into my strips. It's like a mini time capsule of memories about the television that shaped my brain. Maybe a little scary at times, but I consider myself well-rounded.

Keep changing those channels, and I'll see you next week!

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