As I sit here facing the screen I am not thinking of myself as I would appear in a mirror: 54 and a half years old, overweight, with dark circles under my eyes. I am seeing myself as I would've seen myself inside my addled little babyhead: bright- (albeit cross-) eyed and small enough to hide almost anywhere, the better to observe the adult world; curious, and ready for any adventure (as long as I didn't cross the street, which I wasn't yet permitted to do).
Yes, to me Spin and Marty were practically adults. I've recently seen a still from the show; without the caption I wouldn't have known Marty from Spin and they look impossibly young (Considine was 14!)... but I was three when they first appeared on the Mickey Mouse Club and they were, for me, a bridge to the universe of adulthood. Within the limits of, well, my block, and further circumscribed by the world carefully presented to me by my parents (I wouldn't have a real piano for another two years but I was in the first stages already of a lifetime friendship with Mozart and his dad, Haydn and Brahms) I was sentient enough not only to let television expand my tiny horizons, but to be more or less aware they were being expanded. I also knew a hunk when I saw one. Ah, Spin!
I used to dream about them. Those dreams are on what I unconsciously based the dreams of the rest of my life.
Well, okay, I should give some credit to Gene Autry. He could ride a horse and play the guitar at the same time; anyone who could do that deserved to be one of my dream fathers. My own father worked nights and slept days so I guess I was looking for a dream father or two. I found two, in fact: Gene, and Jimmy Dodd of the Mouseketeers (he, too, was pretty handy withn a guitar). I guess Spin and Marty were my dream brothers.
Apart from a lifelong love of horses (I don't ride often enough to get good so every time I mount up I'm a beginner, but to me it's just heaven, even timid walking) these shows formed the secret, guilty-pleasure side of my sense of drama. The rivalry that blossoms into friendship (being misunderstood, having to prove onself), the getting lost and getting found... the freedom of being orphaned and thus hopeful of choosing ideal parental bonds.... The hint (or more) of danger, the daring rescue, the vindication.... Friendship. Loyalty. FAMILY.
No, it doesn't matter one bit that I couldn't tell you the plot of a single episode. All it means is I can't give you a traditional review of the series. I can't tell you whether any of the participants could act, write, direct or even ride well (oh, they SEEMED to be riding well!) My review is of the impression the show made on me -- one strong enough to transcend such trivial details as, well, details. I probably write as I do at least partly because of Spin and Marty (thank or blame Disney as you will; Mickey Mouse never influenced me that way!) I wouldn't be exaggerating if I claimed that these adventures at least partly shaped my world view. I may not hold to its simplistic vantage point, but it's where I come from. I start there. I think my generation starts there.