Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A "Golden" Age over?

Estelle Getty, one of the television icons of my childhood Saturday nights, died earlier today at her Hollywood home.

Yes, one of my icons. Is that a surprise? Can't a brotha enjoy "The Golden Girls"?

Seriously, I vividly remember watching - and enjoying - Getty immerse herself in the role of "Sophia," the wisecracking octogenarian with a tremendous knack for checking her headstrong daughter, Dorothy.

The entire show was a treat, and often referred to as something of a precursor to HBO's much-more celebrated "Sex and the City." And I'd never be caught dead watching anything like it on TV today. I get the feeling that I'm not alone either.

I'll never be one to complain about the expansion of cable TV or the abundance of viewing choices, especially in the TiVo era. I can watch college football games from the mid 1980s, reruns of "Good Times," and any number of absurd reality TV shows virtually on demand.

But the limitless variety squeezes out the shows that once used to be a part of all of our lives, the sort of links that transcended generation and culture. The "Girls" were one of the few Saturday night options on network TV when I was a boy (it was the late '80s, after all). It was either that or another rerun of some lame Byron Allen production.

Thus, I could joke about "The Golden Girls" with my Nana, my parents or my boys on the block (well, not so much), and they would knowingly respond in kind. The show was smart, funny and popular.

How many shows can you say that about today? I'm not going to be an old fart here. I love progress - I've made blogging a part of my life, I hardly watch TV shows unless they've been recorded on my DVR and I'm anxiously awaiting the day I can purchase an iPhone.

But Getty's death on Tuesday also signified the end of something else. A "Golden" era, if you will.

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