For reasons multiple and various, the television program thirtysomething, which ran on ABC from 1987 to 1991, left an indelible mark on me.
Perhaps it was because I was twentysomething at the time, so it was a preview of things to come (marriage, babies, jobs, etc.). Perhaps because I watched most of the series on the same television, with the same group of devoted regulars. Perhaps it’s because I went to Herculean lengths to watch the series finale: I was living in El Paso, Texas at the time, without a television; I applied for a credit card, received it the day before the finale, bought a TV at K-Mart, watched the show, and then returned the TV the next morning. Perhaps because I’m a fan of W.G. Snuffy Walden music. Perhaps it’s because, in its own way, the show was ground-breaking, depicting relationships and work and life that seemed more “real” compared to Happy Days and Remington Steele.
I don’t really know. But oh how I loved that show.
Thirtysomething is, alas, one of the programs from the 1980s that has yet to be released on DVD. And it hasn’t run in syndication in North America for a long time. So I’d not seen a single episode in more than 15 years.
Over the holidays, my friend David mentioned that he recently developed an interest in YouTube. While I’d used YouTube myself to distribute videos in a hurry, I’d never had much use for it otherwise, and had assumed that its content was limited mostly to Star Wars movies re-enacted with Jello and other captured hijinks. David’s interest, and a pointer to another seminal piece of TV history prompted me to take another look.
To my surprise, I found thirtysomething there, entire episodes. YouTube limits videos to 10 minutes in length, so the episodes are split up into 10 minute chunks. And they’re low-quality TV captures. But they’re there, and by grabbing the files and putting them together in a Democracy playlist, I was able to approximate 1989 last night in our den.
And when Elliot told Nancy that he loved her, and that they should be together again, despite what people might think. And when Hope told Michael that she wanted Melissa to look after Janie if something should ever happen to both of them. Tears came to my eyes.
You ABSOLUTELY need to give up television immediately. I hereby publicly challenge you to stop watching TV/youtube/bittorrents/DVDs for one whole month as a sociological experiment.
How about when Ellen’s boyfriend’s old girlfriend visits and makes perfect coffee? The secret? “I measure,” she says.