Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wednesday's Words for October 13, 2010

We often don’t realize how much our lives are impacted by others. People we’ve never met face to face often touch our lives in ways we wouldn’t have ever expected.

And then, when these unmet yet influential people pass away we’re left with the realization that here was someone who, though we didn’t know them personally, somehow mattered to us.

Time moves in a paradoxical way, doesn’t it? The days seem to drag but the years zoom past. I was trying to remember when I first became a fan of Stephen J. Cannell. Adam-12 was probably the first one of his shows that I watched faithfully, and that at a time when I was still a teen living at home with my mother.

There were others, of course. The Rockford Files, The A-Team, which was a particular favourite of my sons, and Baa Baa Black Sheep, one of Mr. Ashbury’s all-time favourites. There was Hardcastle and McCormick, Hunter, and one show that had a pretty good scenario or two, the Greatest American Hero.

Mr. Cannell’s stories, be they on the screen or between the pages of a book, were stories about people. Even more than clever plots, his shows in particular featured clever dialogue, the kind that made you fall a little bit in love with his characters, the kind that kept you coming back week after week.
The man was at the heart of it all, a writer. Perhaps that is one of the reasons I felt his loss so keenly.

There have been many others over the years, people who have shaped or influenced our culture, and whose passing leaves a creative hole, if you will, in the cosmos.
As you get older, you look back, from time to time, to moments that stand out in your imagination and in your memories, to people who didn’t even know you existed but who, through their artistry, their creativity, or their simply being, helped to shape your life.

I am of the first generation whose formative years were influenced by television. I remember Saturday morning shows like Roy Rogers, Sheena Queen of the Jungle, and Sky King. My imagination soared with Flipper, Sea Hunt, and the first program that inspired me to write, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.

What impact did these early dramas, the products ultimately of writers, have on me? I’m not sure I can tell you, really. Being the youngest child (by several years) in a family of three, living in a rural environment, I think you could safely say the characters on these programs were some of my earliest friends.

I don’t want you to think that my mother allowed me languish my days away in front of the television. Oh, no, in my mother’s house, if the weather wasn’t storming, during the day you were outside playing. At night, I watched what she watched. That was in the days before you had to worry about “objectionable” material. But Saturday mornings I was allowed the television, and in those few hours, my imagination learned to fly.

We’re getting older, all of us. I just heard the other day that Darryl Hall (of Hall & Oates) turned 64. 64! Maybe this helps explain why, when I look in the mirror, it’s to see some old lady looking back at me. I know that underneath the wrinkles and gray hair, I have to be in there somewhere! It feels like I’m in there, at any rate, even if it doesn’t look like it.

I enjoyed the imagination of Stephen J. Cannell. In the last couple of years, he had two “cameos” each season on the ABC show, “Castle”, playing... himself. When you watched those scenes you just knew he was having a good time filming them. His latest—and last book, The Prostitutes’ Ball, was released yesterday.

His creativity will be missed.


1 comment:

Kris_Cook said...

Morgan - this was a great post. Thanks for sharing.