>Track on Old Sitcoms

>Tomorrow is the Bislett Games from Oslo, the third stop on the IAAF’s Diamond League tour.  Tape-delay coverage begins at 8:00 PM on Universal Sports, should you be fortunate enough to have that channel available to you.

Right before the show begins, though, you’ll have an opportunity to see more track. At 7:30, TV Land will show the episode of Sanford and Son in which Fred signs up for the decathlon in the Senior Olympics.

I’ve always liked Sanford and Son. While All in the Family was probably the greatest American sitcom ever made, it loses something in the translation. It’s still funny, but it was very related to the time in which it was made. Sanford and Son, on the other hand, is a double anachronism: not only is it more than thirty-five years old, it was out of step with its time even back then. Fred, Grady, Bubba and especially Aunt Esther all didn’t belong in the 70s, so it’s a great show to watch in reruns.

This particular episode isn’t the height of Redd Foxx’s comedic abilities, but the scene where Grady bosses Fred around as his coach is some great physical humor. It’s worth your thirty minutes.


Of course, the best treatment of track and field on old sitcoms comes to us in two parts from The Cosby Show.  In “Back to the Track, Jack” (1985), Cliff agrees to run in a masters’ track meet to settle a decades-old dispute from a college mile relay race.  Trying to get back into shape leads to top-notch Bill Cosby old-man physical humor.  Another rematch is set in “Off to the Races” (1986), this time in the Penn Relays, in which both character Cliff Huxtable and actor Bill Cosby are caught by surprise when the opposing team is anchored by a ringer.  Both episodes feature Olympic medalist Josh Culbreath as Cliff’s college rival, and and Larry “The Mighty Burner” James as a relay runner.

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