What to say if you liked it
An enjoyable US drama that provides a slice of frothy, nostalgic entertainment to watch at 6.00pm so you can avoid your lousy local news programme
What to say if you disliked it
A lot of silliness you should switch off so you can see your local newscaster tell you about the latest murder at the end of your street (London, Granada, Central regions) or the latest WI jumble sale (Anglia, Meridian, Westcountry etc).
What was good about it?
• British nostalgia seems to be all grime and groaning; American nostalgia is bright and breezy. Philadelphia in 1963 looked like a great place to be.
• The soundtrack sizzles. Show one included Uptight, Heatwave, It’s In His Kiss, Let’s Dance, Don’t Worry Baby and much more
• Little Patty’s obsession with spelling
• There were loads of cardigans on show.
• Gail O’Grady as Helen, the housewife with broader horizons, is the spitting image of the lovely Elizabeth Montgomery of Bewitched fame
• It was fun to see the excitement over new innovations including beef bourginon, action replays on TV sport
• The book group scene full of pretentious women was very funny
• The scenes in which the Pryor family heard about JFK’s death avoided mawkishness and were very poignant
• Phones had dials, TVs had white dots
What was bad about it?
• The Pryor family are rather one dimensional: puritanical father, easygoing mother, mildly rebellious teens, precocious preteens
• Dancing in the 1960s was of wedding reception quality
• The story of jock JJ’s doubts about a career in sport is a bit old hat
• Teenagers then seem as vacuous as teenagers now. “I can’t imagine anything in my life that’s so important – to be on TV, to be around it,” said starstruck Meg as she achieved her dream to bop around on American Bandstand. The British version of this dream would be to have swayed along to Mud on Top Of The Pops in the mid-1970s.