CONELRAD: Mutated Television
Donna Reed and her nuclear family observe Burgess Meredith in Time Enough At Last

Vietnam Punchline: Leo Durocher's Munster Gap

CONELRAD Special Projects Present MUTATED TELEVISION - curated by Bill Geerhart
Twilight Zone's Time Enough At Last: It's not fair!

If future anthropologists ever require evidence of the Bomb's corrosive effect on mid-20th century popular culture all they will need to do is enter (or excavate) any North American museum of broadcasting. If they can find a couple of videos from the 1950s and a couple more from the '60s (and something to play them on), the case will already have been made for them - particularly if they stumble upon some of the "classic" sitcoms of these respective eras.

Father Knows Best - prayer circle or CEP?Perhaps it is because television has remained so static for the last twenty years that it is difficult to notice any change at all in programming nowadays (see "Seinfeld" and "Friends" for examples of static '90s TV). But it wasn't always this way. There was a time when the differences and shifts in content were incredibly stark. Indeed, the only appropriate word to describe the transition of the situation comedy of the fifties to that of the sixties is "mutation." How else can one view the fact that the season "Father Knows Best" (1954-1963) left the air, "The Munsters" (1963-1966) became a hit?

It took longer, but the fallout from the Trinity test mutated the television we watched in the 1960's just as surely as Vietnam and Watergate changed TV in the '70's. Every genre on the air was effected by the Bomb (the anthology genre actually dealt with it in a mostly direct fashion. As you can see elsewhere on this site, shows like "The Twilight Zone" and "The Outer Limits" devoted many episodes to atomic issues), but none so bizarrely as the family sitcom.

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