I was five years old in March of '75. Yes, I've been a fan since then, only I didn't come to that conclusion until recently. I'd always thought '77 was the year I became I fan. Do I need to spell out what franchise debuted in 1977? Didn't think so.
What made me think of writing this was an author interview I participated in over on the mylifemybooksmyescape blog. I brought up Kolchak: The Night Stalker as one of the influences for the novel Iron Angels, which I co-wrote with the wonderful Eric Flint.
The more obvious influence was The X-Files, but to anyone who reads Iron Angels that should be somewhat obvious. Kolchak, for the uninitiated, stars Darren McGavin (you know, the dad from A Christmas Story) as a reporter who finds himself embroiled in the fantastic and unbelievable. The show only aired for one season (there were also two TV movies that aired earlier that were highly rated) but this show was cited as an inspiration for The X-Files. I remember my great-grandmother babysitting me watching Kolchak while sipping a Pabst Blue Ribbon. The show scared me to death (there are plenty of horror elements), but it stuck with me.
Two more shows I remember from my childhood are Quincy and Columbo. Both of those are genre, too--you didn't think I only meant science fiction/fantasy/horror, did you?
The shows all have something in common, solving a mystery. Investigating. It doesn't matter if it's fantastic or based more on what we believe is reality, what obviously stuck with me was the mystery.
Let's take it even further! Another show I adored as a child was Scooby Doo. More mystery! More monsters! More investigation! Scooby Doo was my absolute favorite cartoon back then, and I still enjoy it--which is why I bought the full DVD collection housed in The Mystery Machine! And now I'm reading Meddling Kids, by Edgar Cantero.
What brought Scooby Doo back around to me was when I came across the most awesome cosplay at Dragon Con (annual multi-media convention held in Atlanta with around 80,000 attendees!). Not only did they have the Scooby Doo gang there, but the monsters was almost every episode! It was like I was in the cartoon!
When I got a little older, I used to watch all the classic mystery films and suspense films such as those from Hitchcock, which also influenced me and my choice of career. These are all genre, and I love to watch and read across the different genres.
Now that I'm looking back at my formative years, prodded by these recent rediscoveries I mentioned above, I think it's safe to say that genre, and in particular anything that involved mysteries and investigation led me to my career in law enforcement.
I could go on and on about television and film that influenced me, but for now, this is a good start! Thank you Granny for introducing me to genre (and horrible beer).