Saturday, April 26, 2014
I was recently reunited with a favorite tv show from my past. Dream On was one of HBO's very first attempts at an original series back in 1990, created by the same duo that would later go on to bring NBC fame with the show Friends. It received its genesis when renowned director and writer, John Landis, asked Universal Studios if he could make use of the footage from all the old black & white tv shows the studio produced from the 1950s and 60s. Dream On would make clever use of clips from these shows at integral moments during a particular episode, usually to enhance or illustrate the thought processes, emotions, and internal dialogue of the show's protagonist to comedic effect. It was a remarkably successful formula.
Dream On follows the dating and often raunchy sexual exploits of Martin Tupper, a mid-30ish book editor and recently divorced father working and residing in New York City. Because this series appeared on HBO, a subscriber-based network here in the U.S. not bound by the same censorship and laws of more accessible tv, the show contained quite a decent amount of nudity, colorful language, and sexual situations. Tame by the standards of HBO and Starz shows today, no doubt, but quite ground-breaking back in 1990. I was only 13 at the time the series aired late at night, but I was at that age when sneaking into the living room while my guardian slept to watch something naughty I wasn't supposed to be seeing was quite appealing, to say the least. And it wasn't just because of the naked boobies that were on display most of the time (I was a newly minted teen male, after all), but the show was actually quite hilarious, too!
Although I didn't recognize most of the black & white tv references that would pop up here and there whenever Martin was feeling a bit perplexed, I was old enough to understand the comedy that was used so well to deliver a poignant, yet sometimes bawdy, message about the travails of dating in this city when one has already been married and has a teenage son. I don't have a teenage son, or any children for that matter (thank god), but it's eerie to see that after all these years I actually find myself in somewhat similar circumstances as the show's hero. I'm in my mid-30s, I work in publishing, I'm recently divorced, I'm trying to make sense of the bewildering concept of actually dating now, and I live in New York. As a 13 year old, I used to model what I thought being an adult would be like on Martin Tupper's life. Not the having sex with a different woman every week part--I was still a little too young to be thinking like that--but the part by which, for all his faults, Martin was a decent hard-working professional with his own apartment and the means by which to support himself. I'm not ashamed to admit that this show is what made me want to become an editor in the first place. Absent of an actual father or other male role model growing up, Martin Tupper showed me a possible future for myself here in this great, big bad city I lived in.
Perhaps it was 10 or 11 years ago that the first two seasons were released on DVD. I quickly snatched that set up and watched the episodes hungrily, reliving my childhood in a glorious spate of marathon watching over the course of two or three weekends. But I would always lament the fact that the producers never got around to releasing the next 4 seasons of the show. These remaining seasons had some of the best episodes ever, to my recollection. One of which introduced a very young Salma Hayek to American audiences. Well, okay, to one 15 year old boy in particular. :)
And so, just this past week, it dawned on me to check out Youtube. And why the hell did I not do this in the first place? It turns out some Dutch television station had aired all 6 seasons, unedited, at some point in the not too distant past, and that one industrious Youtuber had recorded and placed online. THANK YOU, INTERNET GODS! I quickly created my own private playlist, separated by numbered season, and mirrored every episode to my heart's content. And now? Well now I come home and watch 4 or 5 episodes at a time on my tv as if it were the old days. Ahhhh, ain't life grand?
I tell you, watching Dream On again after so long really puts a smile on my face. Not only does it bring back memories to when I was just starting high school, but it allows a new appreciation for subject matter that makes a lot more sense to me now that I am my own adult living in my own place all on my own. It feels like I've come full circle, and what better way to do so than with an old, cherished tv show from one's childhood? Yes, does it shock anyone that I would be talking about an R-rated comedy series? It might be to think of me as a 13 year old back in the day glued to a late night tv show with such risqué content, sure. But, hell, I didn't turn out so bad, did I?
Don't answer that!
As a special treat, I'm including the season 3 Salma Hayek episode below for your viewing pleasure. Check it out for yourself, and see if this brings back memories. I know it will for at least one of my best friends out there reading this. Right, T? :)