Monday, December 08, 2008


If you do a Google search for the phrase "Bill Macy's climbing those ivy-covered walls", you'll get pretty much nowhere.

Which makes sense, as the phrase is absolutely meaningless, unless you happen to remember how it was used to sell the Bill Macy sitcom Hanging In, which ran for all of four episodes back in 1979. My brother and I talk on the phone once a week, and in pretty much every conversation, at some point one of us will make some reference to it. Not to the show, which we only watched once, but to the ad campaign.

Let me say that again, in case you didn't fully grasp how truly pathetic that is: On a regular basis, we fondly reference the ad campaign for a completely forgotten sitcom from nearly thirty years ago.

For the love of God, why? We talked for two and a half hours last night, and yes, various real-world topics came up, but the conversation was dominated by his obsession with Yvette Mimieux, my obsessions with Stella Stevens and Lauren Graham and our mutual hatred of any and all seventies TV movies featuring Granville Van Dusen.

Granville Van Dusen! Who the hell even knows who he was, much less took the time to scan TV Guide every week, hoping for another busted pilot built around Van Dusen's anti-charisma, another chance to sit in front of the TV and stare in gape-mouthed awe at how bad something could be? Nobody! Nobody else would have done such foolishness, because most people had, you know, lives.

But sadly, the Van Deusen Experience (which I'd like to point out, in what I desperately hope will be my only reference ever to a recurring Dave Barry bit, would be a great name for a band) was a formative one for me. I absorbed it as fully as I did ad campaigns for Bill Macy sitcoms or insurance commercials (Hey, remember that Prudential spot with the guy thinking he found a Picasso in his attic, but his wife looks more closely and realizes the painting is signed by someone named Pickleman? No, of course you don't.) or any damned thing that crossed my radar when I was in junior high and high school. I should have been out getting laid or going to concerts or, I dunno, shooting heroin or something. Anything!

Instead, I sat in front of the TV. Or listened to the radio: I can still recall through gritted teeth the time a local deejay cued up Stranglehold by saying he'd "round out the hour with some Ted." Another memory I wish would go away...