Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Great (film) Debates vol. 103

Who says television can't raise kids? Television is crawling with mothers and fathers!

Who are your favorite television parents?

Panelist: ScottDS

For favorite father, Tim Allen (as Tim Taylor) in Home Improvement, which was the last family sitcom I watched on a regular basis. Yeah, he was a schlub who had to be frequently corrected by his no-nonsense wife, but he learned (assisted by his next-door neighbor Wilson), and he was a good husband and father. And like so many of us, all he wanted was "more power." And favorite mother... man, I'm not sure you can top Barbara Billingsley but I will go with Jane Kaczmarek who played Lois on Malcolm in the Middle: harsh when necessary, but always had the best interests of the kids at heart. And like so many moms, she also had her borderline psycho moments as well.

Panelist: Tennessee Jed

Well my favorite television mom was Barbara Billingsley as June Cleaver. Wow could she do naive or what? She really got to show off her comedic talent when she talked "jive" dialect in the film Airplane.

My favorite television dad was Ozzie Nelson. If you go to Webster's dictionary to look up the term "nice guy" there is a picture of Ozzie.

Panelist: Floyd

I'm going to go with Charles and Caroline Ingalls -- Pa and Ma of Little House on the Prairie. My kids have been watching these the last few months and it is breathtaking what you could get on TV in the 1970s (really from both perspectives if you look at All in the Family). Disciplined, hard working, generous, full of wisdom and laughter, but worldly enough to fear for the well-being of their family. Yeah it's a bit Romanticized, but better that than the doofuses and harpies that pass for parents since the 1990s.

Panelist: AndrewPrice

How can you beat Bill Cosby for television father? The guy has it all down. Don't care for the Mrs. though. So let's swap out Morticia Addams. She's got style and nothing phases this woman.

Panelist: BevfromNYC

Now, I was from the era of television parents who were smarter than their kids, so June and Ward Cleaver are A#1 in my book. Sometimes the parents learned from the kids too. Second would have to Father Knows Best with Jim and Margaret Anderson.

Comments? Thoughts?


AndrewPrice said...

Folks, I'm going to be in and out all week. I will do my best to respond to comments whenever possible. In the meantime, please talk with each other and marvel at the brilliance of the articles. :D

shawn said...

Probably would have to go with Mike and Carol Brady. They were attentive parents, at least in my hazy memories of the show.

Runner's-up: Mr and Mrs. Cunningham. Man, Mrs. C had some nice legs.

Tennessee Jed said...

this is a category where choices tend to reflect when the respondent grew up, and there are plenty of good ones to choose from, as evidenced above. Bev and I obviously remember the first golden age when families like the Andersons, Cleavers, and Nelsons ruled the airways. I will flag Andrew for a flagrant violation of Jed's first rule of GFD copouts: "thou shalt not cherry-pick one parent from a matched set!" That's 15 yards from the spot of the foul and loss of down. (Just kidding Andrew, everone knows tthe first rule of fight club id "there are no rules")

Tennessee Jed said...

oh, ....... wait ........ the curmudgeonly Jed broke a matched set as well. Never mind, then.

PikeBishop said...

The most realistic parents I have always felt were the Hecks from "The Middle." Frankie Mike struggle to keep their working class heads above water in probably the most realistic portrayal of a lower middle class house ever (clutter, old furniture, applieances held together with electrical tape). Also it stars the lovely (pro-life in real life) Patricia Heaton. I also have to give a nod to "Roseanne" during its first few seaons before Barr's ego and politics drove the show into a ditch.

Also I always liked Red and Kitty from "That 70s Show." Red was gruff and no nonsense, definitely not a touchy feely Alan Alda type and Kitty had her moments as well. You also got the idea that the two of them definitely still "got it on" when the lights were out.

Backthrow said...

From an intact family, I'd have to go with June and Ward Cleaver, but as single (widowed) parents go, Lucas McCain, a.k.a. The Rifleman, has got to be the greatest fictional dad, ever.

Floyd R. Turbo said...

well played Backthrow... I've been re-watching The Rifleman lately as it shows up on some network called MeTV here in SoCal. Great show.

tryanmax said...

Is it bad that I just generally don't go in for family shows? That makes this tough.

My favorite dad is Walter Bishop. The man literally crossed universes for his son, to exceedingly ill consequences, but still...

My favorite mom is Samantha Stephens. The genetic inheritance alone makes her a top mom.

Personally, I wouldn't have broken up the set of the Addamses. Gomez was the caricature of an ideal sitcom dad with, in turn, made him an ideal sitcom dad.

On Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor, none of us knew Tim Allen's personal history when that show was on top. His is an amazing turn-around story. I have intense respect for that man.

Tennessee Jed said...

Backthrow, your comment on Lucas McCain reminded me of a great modern day single dad (at least for the moment) Richard Castle.

Tennessee Jed said...

Pike - I will have to take your word for it (something I have no trouble doing) since I never saw either "The Middle" or the 70's show. Your choice of Roseanne does give me pause, though.

tryanmax said...

Andrew, in at out of the site? Or consciousness? b/c I usually save the latter for the week b/w the holidays. :-)

Tennessee Jed said...

TMax, I can concur with Tim Taylor, but confess to not knowing who you are talking about with Bishop. Probably a generational thing :)

tryanmax said...

Walter Bishop was the old scientist on Fringe, and Peter's dad. See what I mean about not going in for family shows?

tryanmax said...

Pike, Jed, I think early Rosanne was a pretty good working-class mom. It couldn't have drawn in such a large audience if people weren't able to relate. But like Pike said, her real-life ego destroyed the character's charisma. The two Rosannes are practically different characters.

T-Rav said...

Ray and Debra Barone, during the early seasons of Everybody Loves Raymond, were pretty good parents. Had problems, but were fairly straight-arrow and worked things out. The later seasons, not so much; he got idiotic and she got shrewish.

Anonymous said...

tryanmax -

Walter Bishop... great call!!

And I don't go for family shows either, at least not anymore.

tryanmax said...

T-Rav, on that note, how about Frank Barone for favorite TV grandpa?

KRS said...

I can't go for the Toolman as a model dad. His heart's in the right place, but he's typically juvenile, wrong, having to apologize and is forced to endure unending disrespect from his kids and humiliations from his wife. I like Tim Allen, but how Tim Taylor got to the end of all those seasons without a divorce proves he has no backbone, either.

For urban dads, I think Heathcliff Huxtable is the Gold Standard, closely followed by Steve Douglas and Andy Taylor. For dads in rougher environs, I second Lucas McCain and offer Will Sonnett, although the latter is actually grandpa.

Anonymous said...

Off the tops of my head I'd pick the Cunningham's from Happy Days. They were great parents, supportive, loving but firm when needed, they worked hard and provided for their kids. What more could you want?

I like idea of Samantha Stephens from Bewitched, but neither Darrin would cut it as dad. I agree that Gomez and Morticia Addams would be unconventional but good parents, their kids seemed happy.


tryanmax said...

I just gotta say, I don't really go in for all this "sitcoms are sexist against men" thing. The doofus dad isn't some feminist conspiracy. It's low-hanging fruit combined with celebrity. (I think Tim Allen actually said something to that effect, once.) Every sitcom just about is an extension of the classic double act, funny man + straight man--or in the case of most sitcoms, straight woman. Since most of shows are based on the comedy of a male stand-up, the funny role goes to him.

When the husband/dad becomes the straight man, you get Ricky Ricardo, Mike Brady, Howard Cunningham, Dan Conner, and the odd case of Danny Tanner--respectable characters and individuals, but hardly the stars of their respective shows.

Anonymous said...

Three sets of tv parents come to mind.
Howard and Marion Cunningham. (They seem to be getting a lot of votes) They actually fulfilled the parental role,that is, they actually knew things and were able to help their kids out when they needed it. Some critic once wrote about Happy Days that Tom Bosley's job was harder than it looked. He had to play a 50's dad but make him sympathetic to a 70's audience. I think he did a good job with it. And I think it was cute that Mrs. C knew that Fonzie had a crush on her. It was never very overt, but whenever the gang needed Fonzie to do something that he didn't want to they always had Mrs. Cunningham talk him into it.
Red and Kitty Foreman. One of the reasons I liked That 70's Show as much as I did was the way Red and Kitty were played. By the time TSS came along the parents as jokes where pretty stock characters. They weren't played that way.Yeah, they had their foibles but they were real participants in the show,not just backdrops for the kids.
Bernie and Wanda Mac. I love the Bernie Mac Show. Back when I worked 7am to 3pm I would set my alarm for 5:00 and watch two episodes of Bernie Mac while I woke up,then at 6 I would get up and get ready for work. Technically Bernie was the kids uncle, but he was the father figure to them. It was obvious that he loved the kids but they drove him nuts. His battles against the politically correct school system were classics of the genre. And as a bonus Kellita Smith showed cleavage every show. Sometimes it was just a flash,sometimes the writers would set the episode at a resort to get her in bathing suits, but it was always there.
Eat your heart out Felicia Rashad.

T-Rav said...

tryanmax, I could go with that. And hey, why not give Marie "favorite TV mother-in-law"--or at least most easily identified MIL.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, In and out of the e-world. I've got guests here through Thursday. I will pop in whenever I can though. :)

AndrewPrice said...

Nice answers and nice discussion everyone! :)

(Jed, There are no rules, my friend!)

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