When I was a kid, we subscribed to TV Guide. The best issue always came at the end of summer, because it previewed the upcoming fall television season.
I loved knowing reruns were finally ending and being teased about new seasons of “Happy Days,” “S.W.A.T.” and “Welcome Back, Kotter.”
Sure, it meant going back to school and again suffering an early bedtime, but what a small price to pay if it meant Fonzie might stage a record motorcycle jump over 14 garbage cans, or Jimmie Walker, playing J.J. on “Good Times,” might have new reasons to shout “Dy-No-Mite!”
Simpler times, huh?
I haven’t seen a print edition of TV Guide in 20 years, but it’s easy to imagine Hollywood rebooting our favorite shows for 2020 and all the great storylines we’d have in store after Labor Day weekend.
What’s on the horizon?
“Laverne & Shirley” (ABC): When the girls get laid off from the Shotz Brewery assembly line because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they take shifts at the Pizza Bowl, where a customer assaults Laverne for not wearing a face mask.
Sounds like a laugh a minute.
“The Streets of San Francisco” (ABC): Chasing after a serial killer in the Tenderloin District, Lt. Stone stumbles in a pile of human excrement and ruptures his Achilles. His ensuing opioid addiction ends his career as a homicide investigator.
Karl Malden at his very best. I’d watch.
“The Mary Tyler Moore Show” (CBS): The WJM newsroom must choose sides when an intern files a #MeToo sexual harassment complaint against anchorman Ted Baxter.
Things get uglier in real life when actor Ted Knight—who plays Baxter—retweets a Harvey Weinstein meme and draws the attention of President Trump.
What’s the opposite of far-fetched? Close-fetched? Either way, I’d say there’s a great chance this could happen.
“Little House On The Prairie” (NBC): When Minnesota legalizes recreational marijuana, Charles and Caroline Ingalls argue about the merits of planting wheat or getting rich growing weed.
Laura joins PETA to protest the leather goods being stocked at the Oleson’s country store.
“The Six Million Dollar Man” (ABC): While his bionic right arm, legs and zoom-vision left eye thrive, Col. Steve Austin’s regular body parts start to suffer.
His physical issues lead Steve to the Mexican border, where he gets cheap dental work, a prescription for blood-pressure meds and explores surgery for bionic, uh, manhood.
In a special two-part episode, Steve also uses his bionic jumping ability to leap the newly installed border wall, becoming the rare American able to avoid long lines at the Lukeville/Sonoyta border crossing.
So what do you think a bionic guy is worth in 2020 dollars?
“CHiPs” (NBC): The 2020 season ends up canceled before a single episode airs after protesters from both sides of the political aisle fight in the streets of Los Angeles, where the show is filmed.
Progressives, angered by the show’s sympathetic portrayal of police officers, clash with furious conservatives, who demand that Ponch and Jon boycott their Japanese-made Kawasaki motorcycles.
“It just seems like everyone hates us now,” said one confused NBC studio executive. “We were thinking about making them bike cops, but Schwinns didn’t test well with focus groups.”
The more I think about it, the more I understand why Hollywood TV producers have gone away from comedy and drama to crap like “The Masked Singer,” “Celebrity Family Feud” and “America’s Got Talent.”
There’s not much funny about 2020 right now. And we’re exponentially too sensitive to handle real life. It’s like the whole year has been one long “very special episode”—minus the laughs and all the teary hugs at the end.