Feeling crabby from too much work and a sore back, I’ve been taking refuge in a short YouTube video with extraordinary restorative powers. Although barely 16 seconds long—some versions are less than 10—the snippet carries me back to a time when something wonderful and exciting happened every hour on the hour, if not the half-hour.
It opens with a kaleidoscope of warm colors, suddenly twirling in a blur around the whitened silhouette of a bird with a tiny triangular crown atop its head. A lush, circular, woodwind score plays in the background and resolves just as the various blues and greens and reds and orange burst into focus as the plume of a … peacock! Meanwhile, a male voice—the unmistakable, silky voice of a New York network announcer—declares, “The following program is brought to you in living color, on NBC.”
The “Living Color” theme: still beckoning me nearly 50 years later. For a devout TV worshiper in the 1960s, it was my daily call to prayer. I must have watched it thousands, of times and it never failed to hold my attention for whatever followed.
Not only was it a thing of beauty on its own—that exotic melody of flutes, the hypnotic color wheel and dazzling finish—but it raised the curtain on a constant source of entertainment. I sat transfixed as the peacock faded to black and up popped the start of a new show: Get Smart, I Spy, Flipper, Star Trek, Dragnet, I Dream of Jeannie, Bonanza, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. I was just as thrilled when it unveiled a game show like Let’s Make a Deal or You Don’t Say. I was even willing to let the peacock lure me into icky territory like an Andy Williams Christmas Special or Hallmark Hall of Fame drama—well, for a few minutes anyway.