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Memory Kits: TV Shows of the 1950s

Memory kits are for people with dementia, memory loss, or cognitive impairment. They are intended to stimulate conversation or reminiscence with a person with cognitive issues

TV Shows of the 1950s

I Love Lucy (1951-1957)

'Though I Love Lucy has given the global audiences many popular episodes, everyone's favourite continues to be The I Love Lucy Chocolate Factory episode. In the episode, Ricky and Fred accuse Lucy and her best friend Ethel of doing nothing at all, all day. The women, in turn, argue that housework is far more difficult than any job in the world. An argument leads to the men switching places with the women -- Ricky and Fred agree to do housework whereas Lucy and Ethel go out in search of work. The episode has many hilarious scenes and is certainly an episode than I Love Lucy fans can watch over and over without getting bored ever. In this video, we tell you all about the I Love Lucy Chocolate Factory (Best Episode Ever).'; accessed October 2022.

Gunsmoke (1955-1975)

Gunsmoke is an American radio and television Western drama series created by director Norman Macdonnell and writer John Meston. It centers on Dodge City, Kansas, in the 1870s, during the settlement of the American West. The central character is lawman Marshal Matt Dillon, played by William Conrad on radio and James Arness on television. When aired in the United Kingdom, the television series was initially titled Gun Law,[1] later reverting to Gunsmoke.[citation needed]

The radio series ran from 1952 to 1961. John Dunning wrote that among radio drama enthusiasts, "Gunsmoke is routinely placed among the best shows of any kind and any time."[2] The television series ran for 20 seasons from 1955 to 1975, and lasted for 635 episodes. At the end of its run in 1975, Los Angeles Times columnist Cecil Smith wrote: "Gunsmoke was the dramatization of the American epic legend of the west. Our own Iliad and Odyssey, created from standard elements of the dime novel and the pulp Western as romanticized by [Ned] Buntline, [Bret] Harte, and [Mark] Twain. It was ever the stuff of legend."[

'Representative scene from one of the early seasons from 'Gunsmoke': A cowardly bully comes to Dodge and his antics provoke a unusually dark side of Matt Dillon. Matt's frustration comes to a boil when Miss Kitty becomes a target of the bully's harassment.'; accessed October 7, 2022.; accessed October 7, 2022.

Leave it to Beaver (1957-1962)

Leave It to Beaver is an American television sitcom broadcast between 1957 and 1963 about an inquisitive and often naïve boy, Theodore "The Beaver" Cleaver (Jerry Mathers), and his adventures at home, school, and around his suburban neighborhood. The show also starred Barbara Billingsley and Hugh Beaumont as Beaver's parents, June and Ward Cleaver, and Tony Dow as Beaver's brother Wally. The show has attained an iconic status in the United States, with the Cleavers exemplifying the idealized suburban family of the mid-20th century.[1]

The show was created by the writers Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher. These veterans of radio and early television found inspiration for the show's characters, plots, and dialogue in the lives, experiences, and conversations of their own children. Leave It to Beaver is one of the first primetime sitcom series written from a child's point of view. Like several television dramas and sitcoms of the late 1950s and early 1960s (Lassie and My Three Sons), Leave It to Beaver is a glimpse of middle-class American boyhood. In a typical episode, Beaver gets into some sort of boyish scrape, then faces his parents for reprimand and correction. Neither parent was omniscient or infallible; the series often showed the parents debating their approach to child rearing, and some episodes were built around parental gaffes.

'Leave It to Beaver ran for six full 39-week seasons (234 episodes). The series had its debut on CBS on October 4, 1957. The following season, it moved to ABC, where it stayed until completing its run on June 20, 1963. Throughout the show's run, it was shot with a single camera on black-and-white 35 mm film.[2] The show's production companies included the comedian George Gobel's Gomalco Productions (1957–1961) and Connelly and Mosher's own Kayro Productions (1961–1963) with filming at Revue Studios/Republic Studios and Universal Studios in Los Angeles. The show was distributed by MCA TV. The still-popular show ended its run in 1963 primarily because it had reached its natural conclusion: In the final show, Beaver is about to graduate from grade school into high school, but Wally was about to enter college and the fraternal dynamic at the heart of the show's premise would be broken with their separation.

Contemporary commentators praised Leave It to Beaver, with Variety comparing Beaver to Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer.[3] Much juvenile merchandise was released during the show's first run, including board games, novels, and comic books. The show has enjoyed a renaissance in popularity since the 1970s through off-network syndication, a reunion telemovie (Still the Beaver, 1983) and a sequel series, The New Leave It to Beaver (1985–1989). In 1997, a movie version based on the original series was released to negative reviews. In October 2007, TV Land celebrated the show's 50th anniversary with a marathon. Although the show never broke into the Nielsen ratings top 30 or won any awards, it placed on Time magazine's unranked 2007 list of "All-TIME 100 TV Shows".[4]'; accessed October 7, 2022.; accessed October 7, 2022.

Captain Kangaroo (1955-1984)

Captain Kangaroo is an American children's television series that aired weekday mornings on the American television network CBS for 29 years, from 1955 to 1984, making it the longest-running nationally broadcast children's television program of its day.[2][3] In 1986, the American Program Service (now American Public Television, Boston) integrated some newly produced segments into reruns of past episodes, distributing the newer version of the series to PBS and independent public stations until 1993.

The show was conceived by Bob Keeshan, who also played the title character "Captain Kangaroo", and who based the show on "the warm relationship between grandparents and children". Keeshan had portrayed the original Clarabell the Clown on NBC's The Howdy Doody Show during the network's early years.

Captain Kangaroo had a loose structure, built around life in the "Treasure House" where the Captain (the name "kangaroo" came from the big pockets in his coat) would tell stories, meet guests, and indulge in silly stunts with regular characters, both humans and puppets. Keeshan performed as the Captain more than 9,000 times over the nearly 30-year run of the show.[4]; accessed October 7, 2022.; accessed October 7, 2022.

Perry Mason (1957-1966)

'The most famous fictional lawyer in America, one of the longest running dramas on network television, Perry, Della, Paul, and Hamilton are (to quote my favorite overused word) iconic. Earl Stanley Gardner's sharp murder mysteries made the transition to tv better than the short series of movies decades earlier, and the casting could not have been more perfect. On top of that is the indelible theme by Fred Steiner, titled 'Park Avenue Beat' (unclear why, since Perry practiced law in L.A., not NYC). It didn't change much over nine seasons, though the arrangements varied, and the visuals would change over the years. Here's a rundown in order of our video presentation: • The original opening with that oddly large typeface. Perry shows his document to the judge, then passes it around to the rest of the cast. • The original closing has an awkward musical edit at the beginning. • A new recording of the music premiered with season two (the quality of the audio on the first was really not up to network standards). The visuals were similar but in later shows the image would freeze on Perry and his document without him showing it to the rest of the cast. (Possibly because William Tallman was on a bit of an unscheduled leave from the production and was not in that episode.) • New recording of the closing theme playing over a pile of law books. • New show open began with Perry and Judge action figures, then dissolved to real life Raymond Burr only to zoom out to a graphic of blind justice. • New credits split in two parts: A (short) and B (long), introduced in season five. • New open with Perry walking into a courtroom, spending a little too long scoping it out before sitting down. • Alternate open with Perry in the courtroom sitting for the whole time. • New credits roll, still in two parts but now: A (long) and B (short), introduced in season six. • Season nine opening has new arrangement; the saxes are more prominent. The visuals are the same. • Season nine credits likewise. Bonus #1: The Perry Mason theme was heard on tv in stereo for the first time with the Perry Mason Returns series of movies. They freshened up the arrangement again, 'they' probably being Dick DeBenedictis (I like the cymbal crash in the opening). Open and close included. Bonus #2: The short-lived 'New Perry Mason' with theme by Earle Hagen, in which a miscast Monte Markham played the great lawyer. He couldn't even walk across a room as well as Raymond Burr did. Credit to the original uploader, YouTuber 'The Rap Sheet'. The verdict is yours!'; accessed October 7, 2022.

Maverick (1957-1962)

'Opening credits sequence (5 seasons; 124 x c.60-min episodes) ---a western-genre television series with comedic overtones created by Roy Huggins. The show ran from September 22, 1957 to July 8, 1962 on ABC and stars James Garner as Bret Maverick, a cagey, articulate cardsharp. Eight episodes into the first season, he was joined by Jack Kelly as his brother Bart. The Mavericks were poker players from Texas who travelled all over the American Old West and on Mississippi riverboats, constantly getting into and out of life-threatening trouble of one sort or another, usually involving money, women, or both. They would typically find themselves weighing a financial windfall against a moral dilemma. More often than not, their consciences trumped their wallets. When Garner left the series after the third season due to a legal dispute, Roger Moore was added to the cast as their cousin Beau. Robert Colbert appeared later in the fourth season as a third Maverick brother, Brent. No more than two of the series leads ever appeared together in the same episode, and usually only one.'; accessed October 7, 2022.


The Twilight Zone (1959-1964)

'The Twilight Zone is an American media franchise based on the anthology television series created by Rod Serling. The episodes are in various genres, including fantasy, science fiction, absurdism, dystopian fiction, suspense, horror, supernatural drama, black comedy, and psychological thriller, often concluding with a macabre or unexpected twist, and usually with a moral. A popular and critical success, it introduced many Americans to common science fiction and fantasy tropes. The first series, shot entirely in black and white, ran on CBS for five seasons from 1959 to 1964.

The Twilight Zone followed in the tradition of earlier television shows such as Tales of Tomorrow (1951–53) and Science Fiction Theatre (1955–57); radio programs such as The Weird Circle (1943–45), Dimension X (1950–51) and X Minus One (1955–58); and the radio work of one of Serling's inspirations, Norman Corwin. The success of the series led to a feature film (1983), a TV film (1994), a radio series (2002–12), various literature, theme park attractions and various other spin-offs that spanned five decades, including three revival television series. The second series (1985–89) ran on CBS and in syndication in the 1980s, while the third series ran on UPN (2002–03). The fourth Twilight Zone series, helmed by Jordan Peele, was released on CBS All Access from 2019–20.

TV Guide ranked the original TV series #5 in their 2013 list of the 60 greatest shows of all time and #4 in their list of the 60 greatest dramas.['; accessed October 7, 2022.

Representative scene from the series: 'Anti-social bookworm Henry Bemis (Burgess Meredith) suffers a cruel twist of fate as he finds himself in a nuclear wasteland without his reading glasses. Check back each Thursday for more Twilight Zone Classic videos. Stream The Twilight Zone on CBS All Access.'; accessed October 7, 2022.