LS: Bruce Cameron Column December 14, 2008

A real television personality

Times were tough when I was a kid: We didn’t have the Internet, so when it came to finding information on life’s most challenging questions, we were forced to watch television re-runs.

From “The Three Stooges,” as an example, I learned lessons such as: Whenever possible, avoid walking into boards. Don’t make friends with people who look like a clean-shaven Adolf Hitler. Never, under any circumstances, allow a monkey to run loose on a train.

“Gilligan’s Island” was a trove of life-changing information. For example, I learned that within a three-hour boat ride of the Honolulu harbor there is an island that no one ever visits except a surfer, gangsters (twice), a famous painter and a gorilla (all in season one!).

I learned that if you are going to be marooned on an island with a couple of hot babes, it is best to go with a bunch of guys who apparently don’t like girls. I learned that not all fabulously rich women have had plastic surgery. I learned that a professor might be so smart and talented as to be able to generate electricity from a bamboo bicycle, repair a lost NASA Mars probe, harness geothermal energy, cure the Skipper’s amnesia and even construct a Geiger counter from grass and twigs, yet for some reason be unable to figure out how to patch a couple of holes in a boat.

I spent a lot of restless nights trying to decide whether I wanted to marry Ginger or Mary Ann. I knew I was supposed to find Ginger more attractive, but I had never once actually met a girl who looked like Ginger, not even in junior high.

Mary Ann, with her wholesome Kansas beauty, seemed far more approachable, though it was Ginger who was always causing Gilligan to freak out by trying to kiss him. “Kiss me!” I would cry if I ever got on that island.

I innocently asked my parents when we were going to Honolulu so that I could take my own three-hour tour to an island with beautiful lonely girls. My father patiently explained that in real life, people went to Hawaii to relax and have fun, which meant they didn’t take their children.

Speaking of beautiful women, what on earth was wrong with that Tony Nelson guy on “I Dream of Jeannie”? I would have married her just for the outfit! She aspires to serve him in every way and can blink him up anything he desires — money, power, affordable health care — and all he can think to ask is for her to leave him alone? Are he and Gilligan from the same family?

And again, the story of Jeannie’s and Tony’s relationship began on a desert island in the Pacific.

Clearly, if I were going to find a girlfriend, I was going to need to get my hands on a boat.

At least over on “Bewitched” the guy married the magic girl, but I was severely traumatized when all of a sudden her husband was a different person — and nobody noticed. You think your family loves you, that your friends care about you? Think again — you can be replaced. 

“Hogan’s Heroes” taught me how to speak German, which to my ear sounded just like English, only with all the words pronounced funny. I learned that being a POW was a lot like summer camp and that Nazis are really nice guys.

“I Love Lucy” was, to me, essentially the story of a loud-mouthed, untalented jerk who would never let his wife be in the show. Don’t worry, Ginger, when I write a movie, you can be the star.

Other shows completely baffled me, though.

Why didn’t the villagers come with flaming torches and pitchforks to drive out the Munsters?

Why didn’t the Brady Bunch ever punch each other in the face? Why was “My Mother the Car” on the air?

As I grew older, I realized that these after-school reruns were all ridiculous fantasies. I began instead watching shows like “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “According to Jim,” where unattractive, boorish men are married to gorgeous women.

Sure, just like in real life.

To write Bruce Cameron, visit his Website at


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