'24' actor talks about his TV past

The care and feeding of an Emmy contender
All-time primetime
Ricky Gervais | Ty Burrell | Sarah Silverman | Phil Rosenthal | Ben Silverman | Taylor Holland

I consider myself a media baby, shaped by years of TV viewing. Born in 1948, our house was the first on the block to acquire a newfangled television set, and I remember the early years of broadcast TV vividly.

I was entertained early by Pinky Lee, Beanie and Cecil, Crusader Rabbit, Howdy Doody, Heckyl and Jeckyll, Sid Caesar and Ernie Kovaks. I learned humor, timing, how to interact with others, how to romance, kiss, be with the opposite sex.

“Leave It to Beaver,” “Father Knows Best,” “Ozzie and Harriet” and “Donna Reed” all set impossible family standards that constituted the American Way or its perception that was part and parcel of the story we were told and bought.

I would stay up all night down in the basement of our house catching the WGN feed out of Chicago, watching the great old black-and-white movies and the stars: Cagney, Bogart, Stewart, Hepburn, Tracey, Colman.

The uplift, the hope: Busby Berkeley, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire and Ginger. The heroes: Wayne, Peck, Brando, Clift and Beatty. Teach us a new style, please.

Too many choices for an evening of programming, but here goes. No groundbreaking scheduling notions, just what come to mind when thinking, “What was appointment viewing?” over the years.

8 p.m.: “The Cosby Show”

8:30: “Friends” or “Cheers” (uplifting names, aren’t they?)

9 p.m.: “Hill Street Blues,” “ER” (or an old show like “Maverick,” “Sugarfoot,” “Have Gun Will Travel” or “Combat”)

10 p.m.: “The Sopranos,” “Six Feet Under,” “24” or “The West Wing,” which was always a standout, always literate, topical, engrossing, well acted. Marty Sheen as the president we should have had but did not really deserve.

Yes, perhaps President Logan was the president we deserved.

Too many choices, so many favorites overlooked (“Sky King,” “Lassie,” “The Mickey Mouse Club”).

Youthful memories. Old indeed.

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