Long Live Napoleon Solo

The middle of September 1964 was one of the most historic periods in world history.  Rarely has humanity seen the kind of cultural shift that occurred fifty years ago this month.  Subsequent generations will never be the same. In one week, families, friends, fiends, fish and fun boat-rides changed forever, because fifty years ago this month, the following television programs premiered on U.S. television:

The Munsters

The Addams Family


Gilligans Island

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.


Gomer Pyle, USMC

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

Pause for a moment and reflect on how truly blessed the world was to have such amazing and important cultural gifts.

(Cue the musical theme from Jeopardy, which also premiered earlier in 1964.)

OK…that’s enough reflection.  After all, you don’t want to over-think the significance of this, and get a headache.

Today, let’s come up with ideas of what it takes to create something that lasts fifty years or more. Using the examples of the TV programs listed above, make some observations on the following question:

How do you create something today so that a random blogger will be writing about it fifty years from now?    

Today is your turn. Whether you saw some of these TV programs in their original black and white broadcast glory fifty years ago or last week in reruns or Roku, let’s see if you have any ideas what made them stick around for half a century!

By the way, I know why the Minnow crashed, stranding the passengers and crew…they had so much stuff packed into that little boat, there was no way it could remain stable in a storm!



16 Responses to Long Live Napoleon Solo

  1. Avatar
    Jackie Layton September 16, 2014 at 4:08 am #

    It must have been Ginger and the professor who over-packed. Gilligan never changed clothes. You know what, the Howells had a lot of stuff too. So I guess you’re right. They all packed too much.

    I would love to write a story that would still be around in fifty years. But even if readers remembered the spiritual theme, like if my story touched them in a way so their prayer life grew more intimate, and they might not remember the exact story that helped them, but they can remember when they began to grow closer to God. That would be more than enough for me.

    I pray to write stories that will entertain and at the same time plant spiritual truths.

    Thanks for the reminder. Hope you have a blessed day!

  2. Avatar
    Thomas Allbaugh September 16, 2014 at 6:14 am #

    I suspect these shows are still around today because of baby boomer nostalgia. When our generation passes, these shows will look to future viewers like most old movies look now–lacking a clear context. To be honest, I watched most of these shows when they first aired in 1964, but watching any of them today is mostly just because of curiosity–sort of, “What were we thinking?”

  3. Avatar
    Bobbi September 16, 2014 at 6:14 am #

    That was my era. What strikes me is that many of those shows were family based. I lived in a family, so I could relate to that. But each of them stretched that ordinary scenario in a different direction. They took me to a place I likely would never go, but could imagine I could go. Magic, the ocean, two (friendly) haunted homes. . . I think that readers and viewers want to be able to relate, but be taken a little ways out of the ordinary, just far enough to escape, but pretend it’s believable.

    Except for Man from Uncle. I wasn’t allowed to watch that. 🙂

  4. Avatar
    Jeanne Takenaka September 16, 2014 at 6:18 am #

    This is my question to ponder: Why did the guests on the USS Minnow need all that stuff for a three-hour tour?! 😉

    Why are these shows so memorable fifty years later? My guess would be that the characters were so engaging, or funny, or unique. The premises were fairly simple but what the writers did with them made people laugh.

    My hope is that my stories will challenge people to think about faith issues and about the characters long after they’ve read them. Maybe even see their own lives in a different way.

    • Avatar
      Joe Plemon September 16, 2014 at 6:25 am #


      As I was contemplating my comment, yours showed up, and I totally agree. Those shows (which I remember well) had engaging characters. Will they be around another fifty years? Hmmm. Probably not.

      I hope, like you, to challenge readers with real life faith issues which will make an impact now and still be relevant years from now.

  5. Avatar
    Sue Raatjes September 16, 2014 at 8:25 am #

    I tell young people to watch “Andy Griffith” reruns to grasp good parenting skills. Andy was loving yet firm & consistent & Opie felt secure. There always was a teachable moment w/ their interactions. Gomer Pyle, who came out of that series, teaches us wisdom comes from the seemingly unwise or simple people. Let’s hear it for the underdog who is basically a good guy!

  6. Avatar
    Sandy Faye Mauck September 16, 2014 at 8:26 am #

    Oh Gosh, Dan. Aging some of here. I sat in front of the tube like a dumb kid— yes when they were aired first. UGH!

    Okay so here goes my 2 cents (probably what they are really

    The Munsters/Addams Fam. : silly reversals of the status quo.

    Bewitched: What every woman wishes. That she can twitch her nose and the house is clean.

    Gilligan’s Island: Brain dead here- maybe we all need to see how stupid we are?

    Man From U.N.C.L.E. : We didn’t know much about things like spies and they were kinda cute characters. Can’t remember one single episode but I remember the theme!

    Flipper: Everybody loves the adorable critter hero!

    Gomer Pyle: Goooolly! Actually the movie, No Time for Sergeants was better but we all root for the underdog no matter how ridiculously hokey.

    Voyage to the Bottom: One of my favorites back then. Exciting for that time. I can still hear that sub sound. And a bit better acting…I said a bit, mind you.

  7. Avatar
    Brad Leach September 16, 2014 at 8:45 am #

    The key to all these series, in my opinion, are loveable characters you can root for and morality wherein good triumphs over evil. Where the characters represented the Government, they were competent and protective. The others were just of average abilities or influence, but things still worked out for the good.

    People like to vicariosly enjoy adventure, but they also want to sense that love will win over hate and freedom will win out over oppression. Today’s programs offer too little moral justice, changing the expectations of the populace and blunting moral outrage.

    I would hope all our writings, as Christians, would offer an encouraging morality.

  8. Avatar
    Jenelle. M September 16, 2014 at 8:45 am #

    Like most people are saying, I agree that engaging/curious/eccentric characters are key to have a lasting impression on people, but I’m wondering if shock value plays a big part also. Concepts far out from the normal of that decade that keeps people eyes glued to the t.v.

    If that is the case then we must look back a few years and see what had been done. Had magic, crime fighting, island adventure, and loving animals been scene before 1964? Probably not, (wasn’t Leave it to Beaver just ending?) which is why they were a hit. Perhaps those shows took entertainment to the next level. The next bit ‘thing’, trend or phenomenon 😉

    I do know that I Dream of Jeannie aired the following year in 1965 and gasp! Midriff alert! That had NOT been shown on t.v.

    In Ecclesiastes it says that “nothing new has been done under the sun” and in Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat screenplay writing book, he says, “Give me the same thing, only different.”

    Perhaps we are to take a lesson from history and see what shows or characters were stand outs and why, and then study them. Is where the term “classic” comes from? Being long remembered, right.

    • Avatar
      Jeanne Takenaka September 16, 2014 at 2:16 pm #

      Oh, Jennelle, you HAD to bring up, “I Dream of Jeannie.” I heard the theme song directed my way so many times as a girl, I actually beat up on a boy (don’t worry, i was in like first grade) for singing it to me one too many times. 🙂

      • Avatar
        Jenelle. M September 16, 2014 at 7:05 pm #

        Jeanne, I’m so sorry, haha! I don’t mean to laugh, I feel horrible that you were teased! I bet you wished you could’ve crossed yours arms, nodded your head and poofed those mean boys outta your face. I was 5’7 by sixth grade and was called jolly green giant for years. Ya know, like the vegetable dude? At least we have good material for our stories 😉

        • Avatar
          Jeanne Takenaka September 16, 2014 at 7:20 pm #

          No worries, Jennelle. I got over it a long time ago. And yes, I did wish I could pull a “Jeannie” act and make them disappear, or turn into frogs. You know. 🙂

          Jolly Green Giant isn’t much better. I was tall too, but not quite that tall. 🙂

          • Avatar
            Jenelle. M September 16, 2014 at 8:20 pm #

            Ha, yes, that’s awesome! Adolescent boys. Sheesh. I don’t need to see a shrink about it, but boy, do tall jokes get old real quick. Barbara Eden is super cute! Jolly Giant is well, green. Really green. And big. Sigh.

  9. Avatar
    Pat Lee September 16, 2014 at 9:09 am #

    The characters captured our imaginations. When I first saw “Ducky” (Dr. Mallard) on NCIS, I said, “Oh look, that’s the guy from Man from U.N.C.L.E” That’s who I remembered, though the plots have long faded in my memory.

  10. Avatar
    Peter DeHaan September 16, 2014 at 6:57 pm #

    May we all write something that people will still be talking about in 50 years!

  11. Avatar
    Kathy September 17, 2014 at 5:09 am #

    Relationships. I think all the great stories are about how we relate to one another. Probably because we are always trying to figure that out.

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