There was a time when TV was considered the “idiot box,” and I suppose for a lot of people that insult still remains true. I, however, am not a pseudointellectual who gleefully runs down the “boob tube.” You see? The nicknames are quite awful when it comes to the flat screen in your living room.
I like to watch TV and find myself unwinding in front of it after hectic days or exhausting weeks. It can take me away to sequined, mirror-balled dancehalls (courtesy of “Dancing with the Stars”) or to a post-zombie landscape via “The Walking Dead.” Yes, I enjoy all sorts of shows—whether the program features a foxtrotting has-been or a foot-dragging nonhuman. I’m not picky—I can go for the low brow or the high brow. Just be entertaining and be sincere with what you’re producing.
A show that is loved by critics and its devoted fans alike—one that is touted as being highly addictive—is AMC’s “Breaking Bad.” It concludes its series run this month, and apparently its final eight episodes have been shattering cable records. I must confess, I’ve never seen an installment, but I plan on coming late to the party via Amazon Prime or Netflix or some other binge-worthy content provider. Hey, I know that binge watching episodes is supposed to be bad for viewers (stresses them out, makes them miss meals or sleep, messes with their emotions, etc.). But if I’m going to wreck my health short-term with a marathon of TV staring, what better show than one about a meth lab and the bad guys who operate it?
It’s funny how the protagonists—Heroes? Anti-heroes?—of “Breaking Bad” have such loyal followers. Just like Tony Soprano who had his acolytes, despite his reputation as a Mafia kingpin, the drug makers and dealers of this AMC show have their fans. So much so, MEZCO has released a whole bunch of toys in their likenesses. There are plush dolls, bobbleheads, action figures, and really handsomely sculpted portrait dolls. The “Breaking Bad” boys are big with collectors.
Television characters have often found their way into our toy boxes and onto our desk cubicle shelves. It makes sense. We invite them into our living rooms—and sometimes our bedrooms—on a weekly basis, so why not have them follow us into playtime and worktime, too?
Over the years, there have been dolls made for all ages, and of all types of collectors. The celebrities who have been transformed into doll versions have run the gamut from glamorous (like Tina Louise as Ginger Grant, on “Gilligan’s Island”) to downright goofy (Drew Carey and his archenemy Mimi from Carey’s old sitcom). Incidentally, Drew Carey is a bona fide collector of dolls, action figures, and games that were inspired by television programs. TV dolls usually favor young people, in both the likenesses and the pursued customers. “Saved by the Bell” and “Beverly Hills 90210” featured attractive, youthful, charismatic characters, so the translation into dolls was a no-brainer.
The same with “Charlie’s Angels.” The lead detectives were always made into comely character dolls—how could they not, with Farrah Fawcett and her million-watt smile as the original reference material?
Live-action shows, as well as animated series, have made the leap from 2D to 3D. With the crime-solving teens of “Scooby Doo” fame turning up as Mattel offerings as well as custom repaint numbers.
Bridging that gap between real-life and cartoonish was the 1970s comedy show “Three’s Company.” Basically, every episode involved a misunderstanding. If one of the three roommates had ever spoken up and explained what the confusion was, the show would have been off the air in less than three minutes.
Still, the antics of Jack, Janet, Chrissy—and then Chrissy’s replacement roommates, Cindy and Terri—have earned a place in syndication heaven. No matter the day, time, year, or country, there is a mix-up involving a misheard snippet of dialogue or a partially seen scene that is soliciting guffaws and groans. The show has had a long shelf life as a rerun, and its main players have had brief shelf lives as dolls.