:: Monday, October 04, 2004 ::
October 4, 1957
History: What two widely differing events happened on the Fourth of October, 1957?
Well, the first was the launch of the Soviet (that's Russian to you kids) satellite Sputnik 1, and the latter was the premiere of the TV series, Leave it to Beaver. Two somewhat contrasting events in history.
The first signaled to the world (literally: the 84kg / 58cm aluminum sphere of a satellite could be heard beeping on Ham Radios as it went overhead in low Earth orbit for 21 days by those tracking it) the ability of the Soviets to launch ICBMs at the US. Looking at JPL's Mission and Spacecraft Library, the Sputnik series of satellites very quickly got much larger and more complex as they launched. Sputnik 2, for example, just one month later was 508kg, and carried a dog named Laika into space. She was the first inhabitant of Earth to ever leave by our own devices, and the only one ever launched without any intention of retrieval.
As for the Beaver, it was one of a series of family oriented sitcoms that came out in the 50s and 60s to be followed by the likes of Father Knows Best, My Three Sons and The Brady Bunch... I didn't know there were 234 episodes of Leave it to Beaver. And aparently it isn't available on DVD. Strange. Someone must hold the rights to it. I am sure there are people who would be nostalgic enough to want to buy it.
What did the Beaver signal? Perhaps an unrealistic, idealistic view of the perfect (well sort of) all American family in the late 1950s - something that didn't occur as much as we think in the Eisenhower era. It's genre was made fun of in the 1998 vehicle for the cute Reese Whitherspoon, Pleasantville. You can't really tell if Leave it to Beaver is satire or the real thing. At the time I am fairly certain it wasn't looked on as satire. It's ilk has been parodied so much on SNL or Mad TV, and can be just as funny to watch - probably with a couple of beverages in hand. I wonder if there is a Leave it to Beaver Drinking Game? And one last bit of trivia: The first toilet ever seen on television was on Leave It To Beaver. No one ever went to the can before then. Ever.
:: Mike Wood 00:11 [+] ::