The holidays are over, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to forego the classics. You know the shows I’m talking about- all the old movies and cartoons from the past fifty years we get out at the holidays to watch with our kids. The Grinch. The Griswolds. Even the Terminator as he chases down an action figure for little Darth Vader.
They’re classics. And now Christmas is over, and you’re probably tired of watching that old stuff. So why not trade it for some different old stuff?
Have you ever sat down with your kids and shown them Robbie the Robot in “Forbidden Planet”? Have you ever revealed to them the grandfather of “Fringe”, “Kolchak the Nightstalker”?
Classic SFF is always a safe bet for the kids. It doesn’t have the adult content so much stuff these days has. And, since reboots and flat out ripoffs are so rampant, why not show your kids something original?
I know what you’re thinking- kids want flashy, loud stuff full of cutting edge special effects and characters you can run out to the store and buy toys of. Well, maybe. But there’s still a lot of stuff we don’t think of as old that the kids will enjoy. To that end, let’s go over the three main categories of Classics.
BLACK & WHITE
It’s a struggle to get kids to watch anything that isn’t color once they hit a certain age. Most kids won’t appreciate the sad tale of Larry Talbot in the original Wolfman movies. And the long, slow boat ride into the Amazon in search of the Gillman might not hold their attention either.
But there’s always the Munsters.
What kid wouldn’t enjoy Herman and Grandpa and their whacky, twenty-something minute adventures? In fact, I’d wager that if you start with the Munsters, you might be able to get your kids to watch Abbott & Costello meeting the classic Universal Monsters, and then move right on into the Gillman, Wolfman and anything Boris Karloff has been in.
Kids today are smart- they know all about computers and how they’re used to make movies. I make a point of making my kids watch the behind-the-scenes stuff on DVDs and Blurays and shows like “Face-Off” precisely so they will understand it’s all make believe and nothing to be scared about.
But there was a simpler time, when computers were pieces of plastic with glued on flashing lights- props for actors who themselves sported latex and foam rubber appliances, and recoiled in terror from some cheesy puppets. And if you’re talking puppets, there is nothing greater than Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Have you shown your kids the joy of MST3K? What could be better than Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo riffing on some of the cheesiest films ever made? Think how impressed they’ll be during theopening credits when you sing along with the theme song.
Once they’ve graduated from Gizmonics University, then it’s time to go overseas and enjoy some balsawood building demolition. The classic Godzilla movies are something EVERY child will enjoy- especially in our modern fast forward era. No more sitting through long, confusing, badly-dubbed dialogue from Japan’s finest thespians- you can skip right to the good parts. Like Godzilla fighting Mechagodzilla 3! And just for giggles, you can follow up with Matthew Broderick and his awful CGI “godzilla”- just to show the kids that CGI isn’t always better.
Eventually, you’ll need to bring the kids into the modern film era. That means stuff with computers. If by some strange, freakish turn of events your kids haven’t seen the original Star Wars trilogy, start them there- preferably with a version that has Han shooting Greedo first. With as many different versions as Lucasfilm put out, it should be easy enough to find that one.
And how do you follow up to the Rancor devouring scantily clad dancers? With dinosaurs. The dinosaurs of Isla Sorna and Isla Nublar. Yep, that’s right, I’m talking the Jurassic Park trilogy. I guarantee no kid could possibly be dissapointed the first time they see those movies. Follow it up with the hobbity version of King Kong for the knock out punch.
There are many, many other classics. You can work a lot of great films and TV shows in between the three eras I’ve described above. “Lost in Space”? It’s about a boy and his robot. Every kid should see it, yet in all the hundreds of channels we have on today, not a damned one shows it. Oh, B-9, what have they done to you? Dr. Smith must be in charge of programming.
So go out to the bargain bins of Walmart’s DVD section or log on to Netflix and school your kids in some classic SFF. It’s cleaner than just about anything on TV these days, and it’s a lot cheaper too. Best of all though, when you make some cornball joke during the “Syfy” Channel’s latest Saturday night extravaganza, the kids might actually get it.