Thursday, October 23, 2008


Ha, I say. HA! I've tried explaining the occasional posted footage from one of Lynda Carter's early eighties TV specials is part of a fascination with the awfulness of TV variety shows, not an indication of some twisted obsession with that nominally-talented large-breasted nonentity. Her massively overproduced, hilariously misguided specials simply represent all that TV once was and will never be again, and as bad as they are, at least they're not painful. Well, not that painful.

Not as painful as Cheryl Ladd covering a treacly Billy Joel ballad, is what I'm trying to say.

Yes, the sound was out of synch and it cut off rather abruptly. Aren't you glad? Oh, but take heart: this next one is in pristine condition and fully intact. A little reminder that, back in the seventies, they'd give anyone a variety special. Yes, even Telly Savalas.

The thing you have to remember is, things like this were common place back then. They were simply part of the pop culture landscape, and a bad, unmotivated musical number could erupt at any time. For instance, you might be watching an episode of The Bionic Woman--hey, give me a break, I was eleven!--and suddenly its star would bust out with a haplessly nonironic rendition of this era-defining crapsterpiece.

Or you're watching any show, anytime, and all of a sudden this commercial appears, and you have to ask your troubled pre-adolescent self why someone as solidly mediocre as Ken Berry even exists in the world, and why he's given money to do this sort of thing, and why oh why did nobody ever change the channel when The Ken Berry Wow Show would appear like an unwanted mutt on Saturday nights in that summer of '72?

Or this...There's a context for this--sort of--but perhaps its best experienced without explanation, as a sort of hallucination, a form of madness that will have you wondering, years later, "Did I really see Richard Crenna singing and dancing with Bonnie Franklin? Was Bert Convy really there? But not Jim Nabors, surely? That would just be wrong."

Oh, how I wish I could find a clip of Linda Lavin's Linda In Wonderland or The Hal Linden Special or Mitzi Gaynor's Mitzi...Zings Into Spring, which has the distinction of the worst title of anything in recorded history. (My brother and I will still reference the passing of the seasons by saying, "Like Mitzi Gaynor, I think this winter is about to zing into spring," or "Unlike Mitzi, I'm afraid we're about to zing into a particularly miserable summer.")

At this point, surely those Lynda Carter clips are looking pretty good by comparison. No? Still don't agree? Fine. You've forced my hand. Watch this.