Over the years, I’ve heard quite a few writers decry television, urging those trying to break into print to forego their TV sets and stick with the printed word.
Certainly, writers need to be reading. There’s no arguing that. But I think storytellers need to swim in Story, regardless of the medium. Truth be told, my first baptism into Story came through television several years before I discovered books.
So I thought I’d walk through some of the television shows that were my biggest doses of goshwowsensawunda in my early years.
The first time I remember being ambushed by Story, I think I was three or four years old. I can only remember flashes of Chim Chim, Speed, Trixie and Racer X but I remember what it felt like to wait between episodes. Speed Racer was the first time I found myself following the serial adventures of a hero I wanted to be (initially because he hung out with the monkey, but later because he had a cool car that did tricks.) When the movie came out years later, I had to go see it. And for me, it was a time machine that took me back to those mornings I’d wait patiently by the television for the next episode.
Right around the same time, I started the love affair that has stayed with me through adulthood. The cheese factor was lost on me at the time, but there was no denying that Batman captured my imagination and never did let go. From Adam West and Burt Ward’s BAM, POW, ZOWIE through Miller’s Dark Knight to Burton’s re-boot and then later, Nolan’s. Something about a man whose scarred psyche is bent toward seeking justice for others because of the justice he never had…well, it ‘s always compelled me. Though in the early years, I think once again it was the serial nature of some of the stories and the nifty gadgets and ample pugilistic demonstrations.
I’m going to lump all of these next ones together, because they really showed up around the same time. I remember my Mom making me my favorite lunch (Ritz crackers, pickles, baloney cut into cracker-friendly squares and cheese) and sitting me down to a run of shows. Time Tunnel, Land of the Giants and UFO further cemented my love of science fiction. Lost in time, stranded on a strange and dangerous world populated by giants, fighting a secret war against alien invaders. The goshwowsenswunda was running strong in me.
And then something amazing happened. I discovered Star Trek. No need to link to that one. We’re all quite familiar, I’m sure. But I’ll just say that it was another of those shows that shifted my sense of what Story could do. And no one can deny the Coolness of Kirk.
And around the time I discovered Kirk, Spock and the gang, I also discovered Marshall, Will and Holly on their routine expedition. Dinosaurs, lizard men with crossbow pistols and Kathleen Coleman in pig tails became a Saturday morning staple for my little sister and me. One of my earliest mad crushes was that little girl in her red chckered shirt. I knew I was going to marry her someday…if she ever found her way home. And of course, when the movie came out I had to see it. The nostalgia factor and my guilty love of Will Ferrell allowed me to enjoy bits of the movie though overall it came nowhere close to the Speed Racer adaptation in goshwowsensawunda.
We jump ahead a few years now. We’re in the trailer boy years now and I remember being grateful that our trailer was right next to White River Middle School because I had time to get most of a fix from my newest Story addiction before racing across the field to 6th grade. When Star Blazers hit the television screens in Buckley, WA, I was already crafting stories — mostly comic book style renderings that I’d post here if I were brave enough. And this one was pure serial as they sought the Cosmic DNA to save Earth from the vicious Gamelons…and then faced the Comet Empire. So imagine my delight when I saw what’s coming out soon…. Oh hell yeah. I have just a few months to learn Japanese and get my plane ticket. Who’s with me?
These were the big ones in my childhood. Later, in adulthood, shows like Firefly, Lost, the new Battlestar Galactica and Dexter would show up to wow me yet again. And all of them have fed my muse along with the other bits of Story I’ve picked up along the way.
So what are the TV shows that gave YOU that goshwowsensawunda moment?