“Swingtown”: Thanks for the memory

SwingtowntrioTo my surprise, I have made a point of keeping up with Swingtown during the past few weeks.

The characters in CBS’ retro tale of suburban angst in the summer of ’76 have grown on me. “Swingtown” benefits enormously from its solid cast, anchored by Molly Parker (pictured far left with costars Miriam Shor and Lana Parrilla) as Susan, a mother and housewife who is starting to come out of her hausfrau shell. Parker is one of those thesps who is engaging on screen in a very natural way. At her best, she makes you feel like you can read her character’s thoughts.

Another big part of “Swingtown’s” charm is the ‘remember-when’ aspect. For those of us old enough to remember all the the Bicentennial ballyhoo (and if you were remotely conscious, you can’t forget it), the hubbub over Nadia Comaneci and her perfect 10s at the Montreal summer Olympics and Carter vs. Ford at the polls that year, “Swingtown” is an immediate fix of nostalgia for a bygone era that, of course, seems rosier in memory that it was in real time. That sentimental feeling increased by a factor of 100 for me in this past week’s seg, “Go Your Own Way,” which involved Susan defying her husband Bruce’s wishes by attending a fundraiser for the legal defense of the star of “Deep Throat.”

To make up her mind, Susan goes to see “Deep Throat,” and the location used for the theater was none other than South Pasadena’s (once) majestic Rialto Theater. Oh, the movies I saw there when it was a Landmark-owned revival house. This was in an interesting transitional period for showbiz — only a few years after the time frame of “Swingtown,” and only a few years before video cassette players became a household appliance, allowing film buffs to indulge in a whole new way.

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