Saturday, June 24, 2006

Aaron Spelling R.I.P.

Aaron Spelling died Friday at the age of 83 after suffering a severe stroke June 18. According to The Guiness Book of World Records, he had produced more TV shows than anyone else in the history of television.

Spelling was born the son of Jewish immigrants in Dallas, Texas on April 22, 1923. After graduating college he went into acting. He appeared in such TV shows as Dragnet and Gunsmoke and such movies as Kismet and Mad at the World. He broke into writing with a script for Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theatre in 1954. Eventually, he would write for Wagon Train, Playhouse 90 and other shows. His career as a writer would lead to him getting the position of producer on Zane Grey Theatre.

Zane Grey Theatre would be the first of many shows Spelling would produce. Among the many series he produced were Burke's Law, Daniel Boone, The Mod Squad, S.W.A.T., Charlie's Angels, Melrose Place, and Charmed. Although many of his serious received phenomenal ratings, they were often held in low regard by critics. Besides his TV shows, Spelling also produced over 140 TV movies.

Given the sheer number of TV shows that Aaron Spelling produced, I cannot deny that he had an impact on my life. That having been said, to some degree I do have to agree with the critics. It seemed to me that many of Spelling's shows (Dynasty, Charlie's Angles, and Beverly Hills 90120 were simply empty, flashy, and souless spectacles. While I did not like many of his shows, I must say that there were those that I did enjoy. When I was a very young child, Daniel Boone was my favourite show besides Batman. And I must admit to having been a loyal viewer of Melrose Place (it had sort of an over the top, campy charm to it). And although I was never a regular viewer, I do think Seventh Heaven was one of the better family dramas to come along. As to Charmed, well, I always enjoyed that show as a campier take on horror and supernatural TV shows--it definitely had its niche. Of course, even if Spelling's shows often were not of a very high quality, the very fact that he produced a large number of them is an achievement in and of itself. Off the top of my head, I can think of no other televison producer who produced nearly the number of hours of programming that Spelling did. And I doubt anyone ever will again.

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