As I get older, I notice that things I once loved, and remembered with a philosophic passion, no longer measure up to the memory in reality. With the resurrection of old TV shows in expanded reruns on new cable channels like MeTV, old childhood favorites like “Wonder Woman” and “The Carol Burnett Show” and “The Incredible Hulk” are bitter comparisons to what they used to be in memory.
The poor quality of those old TV shows today is disturbing — because it means I’m remembering them wrong from the perils of my childhood — while other shows like “Perry Mason” and “Star Trek” and “I Love Lucy” still look great and are magnificent shows today, tomorrow, and forever!
The production values on “Wonder Woman” were just awful. The magic of her powers, revealed today in a re-viewing, look and feel clunky. Lynda Carter was stunning as Wonder Woman. She was, and is, the entire show. Too bad the scripts and the production values couldn’t match her talent over the escapades of time.
The disappointment in “The Incredible Hulk” is that The Hulk is hokey and fake. There had to be better ways back then to properly paint all of Lou Ferrigno’s body green, and did the Hulk always wear green slippers to color his feet green? The show can’t seem to decide! Bill Bixby, like Lynda Carter, is the spectacular center of the show — but, again, the scripts, and the production values of the show do not travel well across time.
I was most surprised by how unfunny “The Carol Burnett Show” reads and rewatches today. The show is makes fun of fat women, and the mentally disabled, and is, on so many levels, completely misogynistic. The players aren’t reliably funny — and that’s more a problem with the scripts and not the performances. Carol herself, in retrospect, is pale and upsetting in her old performances. She covers her mean streak well, but when you watch the show today, you can see how she tries to hide her real self.
Food is also a pale comparison between what it was and what it has become in an unsavory and unsweet mechanism. There’s nothing more disappointing than going to your favorite childhood restaurant, and the years, and the weathering, and the aging of space and time all make for a dynamic disappointment. Your memory is sweeter than your current reality.
Nothing today can match the memory of the nostalgia in situ. You didn’t know it back then, but you were creating you own moments of future fantasy and daydreaming of how things used to be. When the hard dehydration of the moment hits, there’s no way to avoid the disappointment.
I’ve also noticed childhood sweets — like candy bars and chocolate — taste awful today and I know that’s because the ingredients have changed. The chocolate is not as pure. The experimental memory cannot live up to the expectation of reality.
Pizza has also become more chemical. The pure ingredients have been replaced by plastics and falsities and imitations — and the young kids who don’t know any better — eat it all up with glee, making their own false memories in the process that will disappoint them all over again 30 years down the pike.
Nothing matches the childhood memory. Did the product change or did the remembrance remove the tasting and the thinking?
We must always be careful for the longing return home, because the reversion back to what we think we know — and the danger of trying to recreate that now — is to play with human fission, where what never really was is still not then.
We tend to use our memories as salves against our current condition — and those guide points are tricksy for the games they play with wanting to take us out of the here in favor the false, emotional, childhood cloying — of there.