Wach you talkin’ ’bout?! ’70s shows still the gold standard of catchphrases
The problem with marrying someone younger than you is that they may not fully appreciate your generation’s cultural benchmarks — those unifying societal milestones of your childhood that helped make America great. And here I’m talking about the TV show “Fantasy Island.
This point was hit home to me the other day after I threw a “Fantasy Island” reference at Marie that went over her head like a Kyle Orton pass. She appeared tired and grouchy one morning, so I tried to cheer her up by putting on my best Ricardo Montalban imitation: “Smiles, everyone, smiles!”
Not only did she fail to get it, she looked at me like I was a moron. (This is not a rare look at my house.)
“Fantasy Island” was an ABC drama that aired in the late 1970s. Perhaps you’ve seen it.
Perhaps you didn’t like it. And perhaps you’re a loser, because it was just the best hour of television ever.
It’s hard to describe the show without coming across as someone who smokes crack, but I’ll try. It was basically about a creepy rich man with magical powers. Mr. Rourke (played by Montalban) lived on a lush tropical island with his servant, a white tuxedo-clad little person named “Tattoo.”
At the beginning of every episode, Tattoo would stand at the top of a bell tower, waiting for an airplane to arrive. He’d then shout out, “Da plane! Da plane!” to let everyone know there would soon be a landing. This is the air traffic control method still used today at the De Beque Airport.
Anyways, each week, tourists would fly in and pay Mr. Rourke to have their wildest fantasies fulfilled. And no, it wasn’t THAT type of fantasy, you perverts. These were tame. For example, an older man would want to go back in time and play high school football again, or a little girl would want to become a princess for a few days. Occasionally though, the wishes were pretty unrealistic, such as an April 1978 episode, in which a woman’s ultimate fantasy was to have her husband replace the toilet paper roll.
My point is that my wife, and millions like her, have never seen “Fantasy Island,” “Facts of Life” or other late ’70s classics, and have therefore lived soulless, unfulfilled lives. They don’t get it.
You go up to a random Mesa State student and say, “Wach you talkin’ ’bout, Willis?” or shout “Dyn-o-mite!” at them, and they’ll probably call security or stun-gun you in a sensitive area.
Their generation never experienced shows like “The Love Boat,” and, frankly, their lives are worse off for it.
“The Love Boat” came on right before “Fantasy Island,” which made for quite an exciting Saturday night doubleheader at my house. And to answer your question, no, I didn’t have a lot of dates back then.
Another classic was “B.J. and the Bear.” It was about a truck driver and the misadventures he’d get into while crisscrossing the country with an orangutan named “Bear.” In other words, it was very similar to “Masterpiece Theater.” Only with a monkey.
You’ll be completely shocked when I tell you “B.J. and the Bear” didn’t have a long run on the tube. But my friends and I liked it. At that age, just the thought of driving is cool. Driving a semi-truck with a monkey as your co-pilot? For an 11-year-old boy, life couldn’t possibly get any better than that.
Sadly, however, younger people today can’t relate to my generation’s entertainment choices.
They watch shows such as “Desperate Housewives” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” neither of which, I might add, feature a monkey or a little person in a tux named “Tattoo.”
All in all, it’s sort of depressing — this realization that I’m getting old and out of touch. Marie must have sensed my sadness, because I heard her trying to cheer me up this morning:
“Smiles, everyone, smiles!”