Thursday, April 19, 2007

Sunday Morning, Looking Back: Huell Howser’s California is Television Gold

This first appeared on April 19, 2007

In the age of spin and sleaze — when hip hoppers go criminal to boost record sales and international hookers become cultural icons in their death – what a pleasure to watch Huell Howser’s California’s Gold — that is if you live in the golden state and hunger for a semblance of reflective sanity in the shadows of nature and history.

Howser is a big tall guy from Tennessee who gets awe-shucks excited over sunsets and old abandoned docks, over off-beat museums and restored windmills. He takes the time to savor the unrushed moment, and for this we thank the various PBS stations on which his excursions, as refreshing as a drink of pure spring water, are aired.. Howser deserves a slew of Emmys.

Here he is, talking to park guides and curators ...

... Now, the clouds are breaking a little bit, and we’re looking off at the distance at the blue sky and the reflection in the water, and it goes all the way around here. This is – boy, this really is spectacular!

... Oh, look at that fish jump. Oh, my gosh! One of the big trouts jumped right on cue for us!

... Oh, wow. She’s been sitting here since 1931. Look at this. You almost have to be here to feel what this feels like, but to actually be here this close to it, it’s kind of like giving her the respect that she’s due...

... Well, she’s not looking to good these days but atleast she’s here. That’s what’s important. We touched her, we came up close to her, and we’ve felt her good vibes, thousands of California stories connected with that old boat — people who rode on her in those train cars, being here with her has been an absolutely wonderful experience. Thank you all very much. We found her, the old Solano, a fine example, even though she’s grown up in weeds and trees, and she’s rusting away and falling down into the mud, she’s still a fine example of california’s gold.

Television has too many Jerry Springers. It has only one Huell Howser.


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