Friday, December 07, 2012

What Do You Miss?
MAYBE YOU DON'T LIKE MUSIC. No, I'm not trying to live in the past, but with so much new hope and change on the way, I got to thinking about some of the bygone pleasures. Past and present are always a mixed bag. Sweet corn has never been better, but the tomatoes of my youth are hard to come by. The crops are genetically engineered to ripen all at once, and there is something missing from the juiciness and taste I recall. We've never had more access to the everything than we do now, thanks to the internet and other electronic miracles, which may be the reason that the things lost in the shuffle stand out more than they otherwise might. That's the reason for this motley list. Some of the missing things could come back, and others won't. So don't read this as lachrymose. I'll start with two things so discrepant you'll be able to see that this is part reminiscence, part wishful thinking.

Deliveries to your house. Not Fedex, not UPS. There was once a milkman in a white truck who delivered milk in bottle that clinked in his steel milk bottle carrier. In the movies he wore a hat and a white uniform, but in real life not so much. The early morning dew glistened on the clear bottles. There was also a bread man in a colorfully brand-specific panel truck that actually exuded the aroma of fresh bread when he arrived. He had glazed donuts too. Ours was the Bond bread man. Before I'd ever heard of James Bond. Why, perhaps, I kept smelling bread when I first read the novels. Beyond these, there was the egg man, the Fuller Brush man, and the Jewel Tea man, who kept my grandmother supplied with the staples of life, including scented tissues and toilet paper. He had a flat tray filled with his wares and he talked for half an hour before he filled her order. We have no time for such things anymore. Okay that it's all gone, sure. But nice to remember anyway. And it's perfectly okay to miss it.

Snack food. This one actually hurts a little bit. I miss Doo Dads (I could eat a whole box in 20 minutes without even feeling guilty), and I'm not the only one. There's actually a website that makes a point of memorializing losses such as this:

Another great Nabisco Snack Mix that people seem to fondly remember is doo dads. It was a snack made up of 5 different parts: Toasted peanuts, pretzels, rice squares, wheat squares and cheese Tid-Bit Crackers (which were so popular you could buy Tid-Bits by themselves).

I know it sounds like Chex Mix, but as it turns out, it was nothing even close, so much that if you even compare them to an avid doo-dad lover you will get beaten. They are nothing alike. Doo dads are 100X better (or so I've been told).

Once a snack staple starting in the late 60s, they really became a childhood favorite of everyone in the 70's/80's. In the 90's, as sales stared to slip due to the influx of chips/crackers/snacks that were in the market, doo dads tried out some new flavors hoping to bring them back to life, but the as the 90's came to a close so did doo dads...

Sadly, they are now gone. Will they ever return from extinction? People have been trying to get Nabisco to relaunch them for years now, but we will have to wait and see if doo-dad nation gets their prayers answered.

And here's what their commenters had to say:

Nabisco, please please please bring these back!!!

The 100 Cal Ritz Snack Mix is the closest I can get to my beloved Doo Dads, bring them back!

I last bought Doo Dads around 2004. I bought the last 6 boxes on the shelf (Clio, MI). I may be wrong about the exact year, but it was definitely in the 2000's. Definitely a different flavor than Chex Mix. The flavoring was more intense in a great way. With a choice between the two, I would choose Doo Dads every time. I really hope that they do come back eventually.

Chex mix sucks. Bring back doo dads.

If I were a millionaire, I would pay nabisco to bring back Doo Dads. The number 1, best snack food anyone can have.Doo Dads! WHAT DO WE NEED TO DO NABISCO? YOU NEED MONEY? PETITIONS? BOYCOTT? Doo Dads will be your number one seller. Make a smart move Nabisco! Lets get Doo Dads back on the shelves, or at least available thru internet sales... I miss Doo Dads.

Me too.

TV dramas. You know how newspaper obits always show pictures of the dead as old people? That's how the channels that run old TV dramas treat old TV viewers too. They load up on shows that were always aimed at old people, like Perry Mason, Diagnosis Murder, Murder She Wrote, and JAG. Or they skip all the good stuff for more recent stuff that's really just old even to old people, like Miami Vice. And, yes, other channels like SyFy run supposed "classics" like The Twilight Zone, but they keep recycling a mere handful of episodes that are more like Kim Kardashian than entertainment; they're famous for being famous and that's about it. Who hasn't seen the episodes with William Shatner, Burgess Meredith, and Gig Young a zillion times? Enough already.

Here are some shows you don't see on Nickelodeon or TVLand. Why? Because they were good shows, probably better than most of what you can get today.

The Defenders. Not the silly Las Vegas thing with Jim Belushi and Jerry O'Connell. Instead, the best lawyer show yet televised. E. G. Marshall and Robert Reed as a father-son lawyer team who didn't even win all their cases. Black and white. Thoughtful. I challenge you to remember a single episode of any lawyer show you've seen in your life. I can still recall an episode of the Defenders in which a young man was accused of the hit and run murder of a pedestrian. He failed to hit the brakes because a friend was sitting on top of the back seat and would have died if the driver had braked to save the pedestrian. I'm not sure we even heard the verdict in that one. We were supposed to decide for ourselves.

Naked City. More black and white magic. A gritty look at NYC detectives. Everybody remembers and laughs at Dragnet. It wasn't all a joke back then, either. Hats, suits, coffee, and booze like you love in Mad Men. Only authentic, not fabricated as a semi-satirical homage.

One Step Beyond
. What I personally preferred to The Twilight Zone. (Sorry. Always thought Serling was ham-handed as a writer. Sorry.) Our host John Newland introduces a story in which something was going to occur. It was as anthological as the Zone but, well, cooler. When the odd thing began to happen the music alerted you. It was cool. Did something extraordinary and miraculous happen? Or was it all just coincidence? Cue credits and out. I miss it. Nothing better to watch late at night, including Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld. Why can't I have it?

The Forsyte Saga. The original juggernaut of Masterpiece Theater, not the slick remake you find when you go looking for it. More black and white. Endless episodes. The all-time greatest soap opera you've ever seen. With a single exception (Kenneth More), the performances are astounding. Dallas and Dynasty are pitiful by comparison, and Soames (Eric Porter) beats J.R. by a mile in his reptilian villainy. If you haven't ever seen this, do whatever you can to get it. It will take your mind off a world of trouble. Forgive the black and white. You'll get used to it. You'll fall in love with Nyree Dawn Porter, and you'll make the acquaintance of some of the best Brit actors ever, with the exception, of course, of Kenneth More. Yeah, you can buy the DVD, but why wouldn't they run it on one of the umpty-gajillion cable channels? Just asking.

. I know. Richard Chamberlain was the Madonna of his day. He was an American who went to Britain and came home with a British accent. Offputting. Once upon a time he was Dr. Kildare, not as good a show as Ben Casey (should have included that on my list because House ain't new either, so here's a peek), and everybody figured out he was gay, but it didn't really matter. (Yeah. Knowing there are gay actors isn't exactly an Obama discovery. I knew Rock Hudson was gay when I was 14 for heaven's sake. Biggest surprise? Why all the fuss when his illness proved what everyone knew already.) But there were two roles Chamberlain was born to play, both miniseries. This was one of them. It's the miniseries that put miniseries on the map, and he's great in it. So is Toshiro Mifune, who's man enough for two men, and Yoko Shimada is hypnotically unattainable.

The Thornbirds. This is the other one. And it has Rachel Ward. I don't care how Catholic you are, or even how gay you are, Rachel Ward was a game-changer. Women absolutely love this thing, and men can stand it too. With all the crap that's on TV it's a shame this isn't available on one of the otherwise horrifying women's channels.

The Fugitive. A Quinn-Martin Production. Say it in a loud unapologetic voice. Harrison Ford wasn't the Fugitive. David Janssen was. Ford ran for, what, two hours? Janssen ran for years. And the show was good. He was always the outsider, with an outsider's insight and an opportunity to help because of that insight. And the depths of his own unsolvable tragedy. In black and white again.

The New Breed. Also a Quinn-Martin Production. Ask yourself. How many comic star turns have you seen Leslie Nielsen do? All playing off the humorless hero character he once played in movies and television. Have you ever seen him play the stick he isn't in his comedies? Here's the archetype of the protagonist he spoofed in his spectacular second career. Do I have to tell you? Black and white.

Didn't think this would happen. Turns out, this is going to have to be Part I. I'm tired now. Next installment will cover TV sitcoms (funny ones... remember them?), cars, candy, fast food franchises, stockings, soda pop bottles, and airline travel.

See you then.

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