Walt Disney and TV Tables


When I was growing up we spent a lot of time as a family enjoying our favourite TV shows.  With five brothers and sisters, you'd think it would be tough finding a seat.  However, two large sofas, a reclining easy chair and a wingback took care of us all.  On cold evenings, one or several of us would abandon our seats and huddle on the floor beside the furnace vent, soaking up the luxuriant heat it offered up.

We'd watch shows like The Wonderful World of Disney, M*A*S*H, The Waltons, Mork and Mindy, and countless others.  We'd watch together, laugh together, and sometimes, cry together.

That family dynamic is rare, at least in our house.  Heather hung out with Ben last weekend and did a horror movie marathon for the first time in memory.  Meanwhile, Ben and I watched The Untouchables together last evening. I really enjoyed just hanging out together having brief snippets of conversation about Al Capone, prohibition, Chicago, and what family life would have been like in 1930s.

Television time in the seventies was our common ground - that thing that we all connected to and understood.  Perhaps social media plays that role now.  We'll often sit around the dinner table and talk about the latest meme on Facebook, or how a certain post is catching fire.  This week it was the preview clip to the film Dylan is involved with called The Good Survivor.  It has been watched by over 5.5K as of this morning.  Forty years ago we'd be talking about the Nielson ratings and how many people tuned into the final broadcast of the Live Aid concert.

In Al Capone's time, family time often happened huddled around the radio.  Your imagination would run wild listening to shows like The Lone Ranger and The Shadow.  It was also your connection point to the outside world with news broadcasts.  Flash forward to 1985 and our connection point to current events was also a box that sat in the living room.  There was no Internet and the daily newspaper wouldn't arrive until the following morning.  Watching The National with Knowlton Nash was key to knowing what was going on in the world.

So much has changed in 2015.  Now, a major event happens in the world, and all of us get it on our personal devices almost instantly.  Dylan is particularly tuned in, but Ben is also aware.  The millennials have grown up with this new way of connecting and understanding the world through the tiny screens that have become ubiquitous.

I'm sitting here in the dim light of morning writing this blog post. My iPhone is plugged in and visible to my right.  Every few minutes something pops up on the screen - notifications from various social media streams and emails.  It is not even 7:30 am and people still in their pajamas like me are waking up to the day with a steaming cup of coffee, laptop and countless connection points that are lighting up.

Could the 1985 Me have imagined a morning 40 years in the future? Not in my wildest dreams.



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