Saturday, June 29, 2013

Our Summer on Route 66

Michael and I devoted most of our television-viewing hours of late April, May, and June to Route 66, a television program that aired on CBS from 1960 to 1964. We watched the whole run of the show in order, taking in an average of three shows per day. We finished the run the day before yesterday, but we're watching the last two episodes again partially because we are having a hard time weaning ourselves from the daily dose of excellent acting, writing, and cinematography (or you might call it televitography) we have been able to enjoy. Not all the shows were great, but many of them were great.

Everything was shot on location, and the people who were photographed in the crowd scenes were often people who happened to be there watching the filming. "There" is everywhere in the continental United States, though the cast and crew tended to spend their winters in warmer places like Florida, Arizona, Southern California, and the Southern coastal part of Texas.  Tod and Buz, and later Linc, the show's main characters, are fearless and athletic 20-something men who drive around the country in a Corvette.  They drive their way into all sorts of scenarios, and often decide where to go based on the direction the wind is blowing.  There's also a lot of coin flipping for important decisions like which one of them will get the first chance with "the girl."  More often than not there is at least one "girl," and she usually wears a lot of eyeliner and false eyelashes.  Her hair never gets blown out of place, and her clothes always look fantastic.

[You can read Michael's Route 66 posts here]

One show that I loved took place in Colorado. Tod was working as a stagehand for a production of Don Giovanni. A person Buz knew in Vietnam dealt with his difficulties re-entering society by seducing women, and was known around town by all as a "Don Juan." Parallels abound. Stirling Silliphant, the show's main writer, had a great love of the kind of identity switching (by way of costuming) that goes on in Mozart operas (like Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni), all forms of parent-child relationships and epiphanies of all kinds. There are nods to poetry and literature, and forays into the supernatural (one episode with a character who might have been a real-life mermaid, and one episode presents a woman who might actually be a psychic). The way the show portrays women reminds me that we may actually have inched forward in a positive way as a society during the past 50 years.

[The whole series is available on a commercial YouTube site, but you can watch a few episodes here on this normal--i.e. free--YouTube site.]

Today Michael and I headed up to Champaign, Illinois (in our Toyota) to see a movie, and also shop for a mother-of-the-bride dress for me (and I found one). On the way we noticed a Corvette (the car that Tod, Buz, and Linc drive in every episode of the series) ahead of us. Then we noticed another, and found it amusing that there were two Corvettes on our Illinois back road (what are the odds?). Then we began to see more and more of them, and they were in all vintages and all colors (but none of the ones we saw had a luggage rack like the car from Route 66).

When we finally arrived at our parking garage it became clear that this wasn't a coincidence. There was a mass Corvette event taking place in our very midst. It might even be, if all goes well for the people organizing the event, the largest gathering of Corvettes ever.

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