I’ve been working from my couch, while my kids (and I) watch the camptastic 1979 TV special Legends of the Superheroes. featuring a bunch of spandex-clad, pun-slinging heroes and villains doing hero and villain stuff.
Just another day living the quarantine life. This “new normal” is really weird.
The twenty-first century bane of annoyingly “enlightened” parents’ existences – the awful, terrible, absolutely evil screen time – is now basically the only thing saving most of us from losing our marbles. In our house, we’re not that strict with screen time under normal circumstances, as we allow the kids to watch a little before school in the morning and a little at night. But now that we’re all home 24/7, and with both parents working remotely while parenting/schooling two kids, the screen time stats have skyrocketed. Based on conversations with friends or various social media posts, I think that’s the new truth most parents are living by these days. Whatever it takes.
It doesn’t hurt – or is that help? – that we’re also living in the new frontier of the streaming age right now. Viewing options are staggering. We’ve got Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, DCU, Disney+, and then there are the free apps like Tubi, Crackle, Pluto TV, and Kanopy, to name a few. Because we realized everyone in our house was using streaming over cable, we cut the cord and cancelled cable several months back. It’s cheaper to stream everything, and I’ve got my stacks and stacks of DVDs and Blu=rays to indulge in once the kiddos go to sleep, so it was an easy call.
So, in a way, all of this streaming while living in oblivion has been a lifesaver during lockdown, while also at times being the cause of some more consternation and stress. Are we allowing the kids to watch too much TV, even during a pandemic? Why do they have to argue with each other about every single show or movie they want to watch? Will TV rot their brains and ours?
These are incredibly trying times right now. We’re all on edge every day, in ways most of us have never experienced before. I worry about the long term effects on our collective mental health. I worry about how strange and scary this must be for small children like mine, considering how strange and scary it is for adults. That’s why sitting down with them for a few minutes to watch some mindless late 1970s television fun feels like the best kind of medicine right now. I would rank Legends of the Superheroes right up there with another classic, The Paul Lynde Halloween Special (1976), as both provide nothing but smiles. Sure, you’ll groan throughout, but you’ll be doing so while chuckling and giggling. Especially if you’re watching it with children who’ve never seen it before and are marveling at all of this silly super action.
Definitely an even goofier cousin to the 1960s Batman TV show (there’s even a laugh track!), Legends brings that series’ Batman and Robin – Adam West and Burt Ward – plus Frank Gorshin’s awesome Riddler back in all their campy glory. The two-part special is full of brightly colored costumes (many of them fairly accurate to the designs in comic books at the time), with Huntress, Black Canary, and Hawkman looking especially cool – and the spandex cheapness only adds to the fun. The special effects are more like “not very special effects” and help to enhance the cheeseball nature of the whole thing. If you grew up on the Super Friends cartoon and/or that old Batman series, then this will land right in your wheelhouse. I’m working on an annoying project for work at the moment, but I must admit I’m feeling lighter and happier just because I’ve been able to watch this sugary-sweet confection with my kids.
During this pandemic, we all need to find little ways to keep from cracking. Sometimes, even for kids, screen time isn’t a bad way to stay sane.