Editorials,  Movies/Entertainment

Looking Back At Films/TV of Old: Does It Spoil Our Memories?

I’d like to thank a recent G-S-T reader/commenter for the inspiration and advent of this post.  After writing a post on “Nostalgia”, I got quite a lot of flack for saying I just don’t get Blade Runner.  I also got some (actually far more than I imagined) agreement and a good number of readers concurred with me. But where as my post was asking “Does Nostalgia make a movie better than it is?“, I believe this post can branch out (thanks to the suggestion from Stuart) and explore how going back to something we one loved as a kid but now find it is nothing like (or worse) what we remembered.

While I just adore certain elements of TV and movies from my childhood, I really hate to admit it, but some of those things not only don’t hold up over the years, but are in fact awful dreadful messes.  It kind of goes back to what I was saying about how when children and adults watch something they are watching two different forms of entertainment.

As a kid, staying home in the summer, I was bombared with reruns of The Brady Bunch, Who’s the Boss? and had to endure countless hours of Mama’s Family, but while I laughed at goofy antics and nostalgically talked about those shows with my friends in Junior High School, if I try to watch them now, I won’t even get past seeing their name on the ‘Guide’ on my cable menu before I choose something else to watch. Some things exist which even nostalgia can’t save. Such a pity because cartoons like Thundercats, and Voltron fascinated me as my imagination ran wild with their stories. Now, the animation is choppy, the dialog is borderline ignorant and the plot, especially Voltron, is so predictably formulaic that I fell my IQ drop slightly trying to give it a second viewing. That may be a tough pill to swallow as the concept (and toys) were so damn innovative and intriguing. Best to let the memories of old remain legend than face them crumble when revisiting them.

Now my main hobby is cinema and I consider myself a movie buff…I guess that’s why I run G-S-T. Now as much as I can’t stand to watch old TV shows and cartoons because of how quickly I learn that what I once put on a pedestal falls off pretty damn quick, movies are a bit different. To be perfectly fair to some films like The Beastmaster, or The Neverending Story those films weren’t bad but the effects don’t hold up to today’s standards. Prime reason: technology of the time. When those films were made, they were using truly state of the art effects (i.e. animatronics) and even perfected old methods like matte paintings and air brushing. But as technology is a fickle creature that knows no loyalty, the gadgetry of the James Bond of old can’t hold a candle to the tools he has now (even though the invisible car was dumb and outright laughable).

Even tell-tale signs of age emerge from bulletproof classics like The Time MachineBen-Hur and the quasi recent Aliens. Minatures, action sequences/choreography, and other visual effects still work but where as other times visuals enhance the film, some shoddy crafts work can take away from it in the long run.  Not growing up with Dawn of the Dead, all I see now are slow-moving, boring melted crayon zombies or like Tom Savini used a Paas “Easter Egg Coloring Set” to create the zombie make-up. But while I adore a film like The Dark Crystal, others who view it with fresh eyes may just see a “lame puppet movie“. To each their own, but as always looking back you catch more than you did the first time which sadly may be enough to kill a movie for you.

I guess it’s up to the individual viewer to decide which films “do” and “do not” hold up and to further decide to let their feelings of old (i.e. nostalgia) allow them to overlook the problems, flaws, etc. Now I’m not trying to knock these things which once gave me great joy and entertainment nor am I shunning their existence but it’s a sad, sad day when the idea of something and reality of something don’t meet on common ground.  While I cringe at the quality of the animation, effects, production or the very ill-conceived plot, the elementary dialog, something inside me can still give certain properties a passing grade.

Unfortunately I can’t go back and enjoy it as I had when I was a kid and I think that’s what upsets me more than anything. Same goes for video games, board games and most things when you have the chance to “look back” on them. However I guess it just shows the advances that we make in our personal lives, taking on new ideas and opinions as we grow. We get to the point where we find we are not the person we were 20 years, 5 years or even last year.  It’s the constant refinement of our tastes and preferences that make us who we are. Some once said “you can never go back”.  Sad how true that is, but I think those words are all I need to sum this up.

But what do any of you think? Are there films, show, cartoons that you have gone back to and been disappointed?? Do any of them still hold up??


  • mcarteratthemovies

    I wouldn’t call myself an “optimist” in many respects, but perhaps I am in this one — mostly when I revisit shows of Ye Olde Past, I feel a little bit of letdown initially, but then I try to remember what I liked about the show. Take, for instance, “The Adventures of Pete & Pete” on Nickelodeon. I saw some episodes as an adult and thought “what a freakball show.” Then I remembered how impressed I was as teen with its originality, and I wasn’t so disappointed.

    Or maybe I just had better-than-average taste in my younger years. It’s a toss-up.

    • Marc

      I think what made me like certain shows back then was the high concept and great visuals. As a kid I guess I never clued in on how poorly things were executed but it was just the idea/fantasy of something that kept my interest.

      One way to kill the dream is not only to go back now but to see terrible adaptations spewed across different media. Seeing the fan-made trailer for the Thundercats made me smile but in reality if it does end up getting made, my guess is it would come across very goofy…unless Bryan Singer was behind it:)

      Here’s 2 more Nickelodeon shows I liked back then, (as did you with P&P) but found some redeeming value after letting nostalgia take over: “Are You Afraid of the Dark?”, and “You Can’t Do That On Television”…By the way, Whatever happened to “Cut It Out??”