It all started innocently enough with The Partridge Family and The Brady Bunch, with their saccharine sweetness and teen heart throb actors. But what really set the 70's apart were the made for TV movies and ABC After School Specials. These were the 70's all served up with a side of morals and a lesson baked in for good measure. The 70's was a time of transformation and the movies seemed to want to hammer these changes home with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer.
Here is a list of 10 TV Movies and TV Shows that left a memorable mark on my psyche and are probably responsible (in part) for whatever I am today. They are neither favorite, nor a finite list, just what I think is a representative slice of what kept me glued to the tube for a decade.
Family - As Buddy Lawrence, I admired McNichol's feathered hair and her intensity. She had what were easily the squarest parents on network TV, but she kept her winged head and her teen angst high.
The Mod Squad - Peggy Lipton was yet another female from television whose silky, straight blond hair haunted me. Add Eve Plumb, Maureen McCormick, Kim Richards and Meredith Baxter to the mix and this little auburn haired lass had enough toxic hair shame to fill a stadium.
Mary Tyler Moore - I loved all the characters on this TV show, but the episode where Mare and Lou Grant decide to date was where my suspension of disbelief ended. Even at 9, I knew a babe like her wasn't going to be drawn to a gruff, middle aged, alcoholic news man like him.
The Odd Couple - To this day, I have nothing but love for Felix and Oscar. I watched the Odd Couple in first run and for years after in late night repeats. I still find myself quoting this show. I remember when the show went off the air. Might have been the stupidest programming decision of the decade.
That Girl - At an early age, I can remember being confused by the message of That Girl. She was supposed to be an independent wo-man who don't need no man to get by. This was supposed to be our example of feminism. However, for all her girl power, she was always surrounded by her dad and boyfriend, she had a job where she traded on her looks (she was a model, and how else could a young girl support herself? Certainly not with her brain.) and she was a whiny little bitch who wouldn't give up the cookie to her blue balled boyfriend. I never believed that there was any example of female empowerment in that show.
ABC After School Special (Various) - There were many after school specials, but Rookie of the Year took on women's issues when a 12 year old Jodie Foster wanted to play on the boy's baseball team. Oh the intensity. Oh the drama.
I Dream of Jeanie - More blond hair to elevate my toxic hair shame. But Major Anthony Nelson? What a babe. Little did I know that his handsome exterior was just a shiny box to hold a liver that looked like a prune that did battle with a wood chipper.
Trilogy of Terror - Karen Black's turned eye + angry, poorly animated troll doll = unintentional comedy gold.
Boy in the Plastic Bubble - This was the golden age of John Travolta. A role to make you forget about Vinnie Barbarino, if only for a moment. And Glynnis O'Connor, the hair of Glynnis O'Connor just stomped all over my self esteem.
Like Normal People - Sean Cassidy playing a mentally handicapped man who wants to marry his similarly handicapped girlfriend (Linda Purl). I don't know whose LSD charged fever dream initiated this casting, but all I can say is bravo.
I guess I should wrap this up by letting you know that in spite of my teen aged hatred for and subsequent chemical and heat based torture of my auburn hair, I learned to love it by the time I was 19. These days, I wouldn't want Marcia Brady's limp, lifeless mop for all the gold in Switzerland. Given my hair obsession, is there any surprise that I went on to have a brief career as a hairdresser? I had to get out there and create some redheads.