Wholesome TV just a pipe dream now

T. Gamble

T. Gamble

Recently I read where Don Grady, the actor who played the character Robbie on the long-running TV series “My Three Sons,” died.

I was saddened to learn of Don’s death. “My Three Sons” ran from 1960 until 1972 and during the late ‘60s and early ‘70s there was seldom a time when I did not watch the show. I’d normally watch the show at my grandmother’s house in Webster County. It started on ABC but moved to CBS in 1965, which was a good thing for me because Channel 3 was about the only channel we could pick up very well in Webster County.

I had a crush on Robbie, Dan Grady’s character. And no, not that kind of crush. If I had that kind of crush, I guess I would no longer be able to eat at Chick-fil-A. No, I mean the kind of crush where a young boy wants to be just like the guy he sees on TV. I thought Robbie was the coolest guy around. He could get all the girls and was athletic, popular, etc.

Of course, Robbie was being raised by his widowed father, Steve Douglas, played by Fred McMurray. Steve was wise and noble and always smoked a pipe. In today’s television he would not be allowed to smoke a pipe because, heaven forbid, this might send the wrong message to impressionable youth.

In addition to Robbie and his father, there was his brother Chip and an adopted son named Ernie, and salty housekeeper, Uncle Charley. They dealt with such difficult problems as whether or not Ernie would get a date to a dance or Chip would struggle with being broken up by his sweetheart or someone would be bullying Ernie at the playground.

If the show was produced today, Chip would be gay, Ernie would be filing a lawsuit over the bullying that occurred at school and Robbie would be placed in jail for sexual advancements because he commented to a teacher that she looked nice today. Daddy Steve would not be allowed to smoke a pipe, but it would probably be OK if he smoked a bong of marijuana every now and then. Uncle Charley would be a cross-dressing transvestite.

After “My Three Sons,” “The Lawrence Welk Show” would come on. Lawrence Welk was a big band leader from Switzerland who spoke with a thick accent and for a 10-year-old boy watching his show was a fate worse than death.

Heck, let’s be honest, I’m a grown man and watching his show is a fate worse than death.

He always started by announcing “A one, and a two ...” and the next song or band would begin playing. My grandfather, who grew up during the big band era, loved it.

I would rather have wet sand poured in my underwear and walk to Atlanta than watch one of his shows, but there I sat each weekend watching Lawrence and the Ballroom Dancers spin around.

As bad as it was, I can’t help but think of how things have changed. My two children have already seen more murders, people blown up, and budding love affairs than a Navy Seal Veteran. I consider a program these days which does not include the “F” word to be free of cussing.

If I can make it through a movie without explaining why two guys were kissing, it’s a miracle.

I guess you can’t, as they say, hold back the hands of time, but it sure would be nice if we could at least put ‘em on pause.

Contact columnist T. Gamble at t@colliergamble.com.


agonized 3 years, 3 months ago

Good column, T! I didn't watch My Three Sons until re-runs, because we could only pick up Channel 10, then later Channel 31. The other channels were dependent on the weather and if we could convince my brother to hold the antenna.

I loved that show. For a little kid, watching the cartoon shoes at the beginning was fun. I had an actual crush on Robbie and am sorry to hear of his passing. Funny riff on a "new" version, though.

What's funnier is the Lawrence Welk memory. My grandpa dearly loved that show, too, and for a four-five year old, that was NOT fun. But now I cherish those memories. I'd occupy my time memorizing the commercials for Polygrip (which is now a DANGEROUS KILLER) and such, but I would quietly bide my time until the payoff--the blowing of the bubbles all over the stage. It really wasn't that big of a payoff, but I had to make the best of it!

I don't watch network TV any more, and I have to be very careful with what my daughter watches. Very sad, but that's life these days.


Citizen_A 3 years, 3 months ago

"Goodnight, sleep tight and pleasant dreams to you...." I can still hear that tune in my head! And it may take all day to get it out...LOL! But those were the days for sure.


billybob 3 years, 3 months ago

There is cussing on network TV now? It must have passed me by. I thought the FCC still frowned upon that sort of thing. You're right, though, Lawrence Welk was terrible. It's mind-boggling that passed for entertainment.


agirl_25 3 years, 3 months ago

I hated the Lawrence Welk show but when I close my eyes I can still see my Mama sitting in her favorite chair on a Saturday night smiling and watching him as he says "ah one, ah two and ah three" and leads his band into another magical musical number, grabs one of the lovely ladies and spins them around the dance floor. I then glance over in my daydream and see my poor kids who I have just driven up from our AF base in North Carolina for an overnight visit with Granny with a promise of a Big Mac, fries and a Coke if they promise to set thru the Welk show. Now look at me sitting here blubbering, tears rolling down my face almost 40 years later......oh what I would give to see the lovely Lennon Sisters and hear that ah one, ah two, ah three and my Mama's smile.


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