I Saw That!

One woman's opinions about popular entertainment.

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Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Amateur boxing coach, Christian (but not so heavenly-minded that I'm no earthly good) singer, writer, self-defense advocate, childfree. feminist www.smartwomenboxingtraining.org

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Roots of Reality Television

People complain about the reality shows that have invaded TV like tribbles on the Starship Enterprise. However, these types of shows have been around for years.

"Real People" (1979-1984) covered unusual, heartwarming, etc. doings of regular folks around the USA. Much was made of the fact that Byron Allen, a host on the show, was only 18 years old, barely out of high school. Fred Willard of "Fernwood Tonight" fame was also a host, as was child actor Peter Billingsley (A Christmas Story). The show sometimes made fun of its subjects, but it was in a goofy, non-sarcastic way.

"That's Incredible" (1980-1984) was about amazing feats of both humans and animals alike. Cathy Lee Crosby, John Davidson, and football player Fran Tarkenton were the hosts.

"Battle of the Network Stars" was a series of specials that ran from the mid-1970's to the mid 1980's. Picture the Olympics with stars of popular TV series, divided into teams based on what network their shows appeared on, and you will have an idea of what this show was about. Tempers often flared between the stars over rules and whether or not someone was being an effective team player.

"An American Family" (1973) was a PBS documentary series that followed the Loud family, and caught all of their highs and lows on film. A couple of highlights were when the wife demanded a divorce from her husband, and one of the kids came out of the closet.


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