Friday, December 7, 2012

TV – Retro TV Roundup

If the current slate of programming on broadcast, cable, satellite, and pay TV hasn’t caught your fancy, there are plenty of old favorites to catch up and relive the good old days with on the slew of retro television networks that are booming in popularity.

First up, you can watch William Shatner in all his scenery-chewing and over-the-top gut-busting glory in two different decades in two different uniforms. Shatner’s heyday (shortly before he became a self-parodying, perpetually wealth-generating cottage industry unto himself) came in the 1980s, when—at the same time he was reprising his role as James T. Kirk in the Star Trek movies—he pounded the pavement and cleaned the streets of slimy scum as no-nonsense police sergeant T.J. Hooker.

Shatner as a uniformed police officer is about as high-concept as you can get, making this the best cop show of all time. Shatner often gets touted for his peerless hood jumping, but he was quite adept behind the wheel as well. He could drift (brake-skidding the car on fast turns) with the best of them. The series, which also stars the adorably smug Adrian Zmed, a very fresh-faced Heather Locklear, and fellow aging pretty boy James Darren, airs most weeknights at 7:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday after midnight, and Fridays at 7:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. on Universal HD.

Then, catch Shatner two decades earlier in his first iteration of Captain Kirk in the original Star Trek television series, which airs Saturdays at 9:00 p.m. on Me TV (Memorable Entertainment Television). Nothing beats Shatner hamming philosophic about the quandaries of mankind’s place in the universe. Remarkably, 46 years after the show’s debut, with the exception of DeForest Kelley (Dr. McCoy) and James Doohan (Scotty), the other five main cast members are still with us.

By the way, if you love classic television, Me TV should be your first and last stop on the dial. In addition to featuring scores of classic television shows, the network features brilliant commercials touting its various slogans composed entirely of expertly spliced-together clips from all of its shows. This is the ultimate TV channel for the ultimate TV fan.

Between Me TV and Antenna TV, weekend afternoons and evenings make for a veritable bonanza of retro classics. Saturdays and Sundays on Antenna TV, Martin Milner and Kent McCord patrol the streets of Los Angeles as Officers Pete Malloy and Jim Reed on Adam-12 from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Then, Jack Webb and Harry Morgan take over as Los Angeles plainclothes detectives Joe Friday and Bill Gannon on Dragnet from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Saturdays on Me TV, Adam West and Burt Ward star as the caped-crusading dynamic duo Batman and Robin, who race in the Batmobile to save Gotham City from a comical cavalcade of costumed crackpots, with little help from a hilariously inept police force, in the 1960s pop cultural phenomenon Batman. The show airs at 7:00 p.m. and is followed by Irwin Allen’s Lost in Space at 8:00 p.m. and Star Trek at 9:00 p.m.

You can take your pick of Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, or Christian Bale as the various Dark Knights (Keaton and Bale are my personal favorite modern movie Batmen), but no matter what the fanboys naysay, Adam West (who also played Batman on the big screen) made the most indelible and lasting mark of any of them on pop culture. He is the one Batman to rule them all.

Check your local listings or go online to learn about all the great classic shows airing on Antenna TV, Me TV, TV Land, and Universal HD.

--Raj Manoharan

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