6/18/09

Bell Bottoms in Space



If there's one thing I learned from Buck Rogers, it's that disco will make a comeback in the 25th century. Big bushy sideburns, large wide open collars and bell bottoms will also be making a return in about five hundred years.

It's easy to laugh at the 70's influences on Buck Rogers, but the fact is there wasn't a single sci-fi movie or TV show that didn't allow that special 70's style to creep in somehow.

George Lucas was pretty good at making Star Wars fairly sheilded from the 1970's. But take a good long look at Luke's feathered hair and Leia's sparkling lip gloss and you'll see that even a galaxy far, far away couldn't escape the 70's.

Anyone who watched Space:1999 knows the show should've been called Space:1976. Evidently, earth toned velour track suits were in vogue on Moonbase Alpha.



Indeed, everything on Logan's Run (both the TV show and movie) and Battlestar Galactica had that distinctive 70's flair. But perhaps the most striking 70's infiltration was not on a show set in the future or in another world... but a show set in the 1950's. Happy Days started out pretty accurately depicting the 50's - sure, it was over simplified and stereotyped a la American Graffiti, but it bore a pretty honest resemblance to the decade they were trying to portray. Then something went wrong.... horribly wrong.

Somewhere along the way, the writers, directors, producers and cast of Happy Days all said "screw it". In the last six or seven seasons there was no way for a person of reasonable intelligence to figure out the show was supposed to be set in the past. There were bell bottoms, wide collars, 70's hair galore, Suzi Quatro, tight denim, lip gloss - all the hallmarks of 70's fashion were shamelessly on display. To make matters worse, when the 1980's hit, the show adopted 80's fashions with equal enthusiasm.... the 1950's pretense was not even an afterthought.

I ask you, does this look anything like the 1950's?

Granted, movies and television shows set in different times have always contained bits of the culture they were created in. However, the 1970's style was so tacky and obnoxious, that I find a special sort of pleasure in finding it where it does not belong.

14 comments:

  1. How come Hans Solo is dancing with the receptionist from Bob Newheart? It's been a long time since I seen those movies but I don't remember this. Then again, I don't remember much.

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  2. It's funny how many people you see with sideburns and butterfly collars, in Star Wars. What's even more funny is how Lucas had to incorporate this into Episode I to keep the continuity.

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  3. Bellbottoms will make a comeback one day.

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  4. Yeah, I think some of the Happy Days boys would have got their arse kicked in the Milwaukee of the 1950s for having a girly hair-do.

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  5. Space: 1999 was the goofiest and trippy show on television at the time.

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  6. I'm stabby over the fact that Fonzie's jacket got more and more brown in hue over the years. Apparently that's less threatening than a black leather jacket. I guess brown leather is for the kinder, gentler and more passive aggressive greaser.

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  7. Tim - LOL, I thought the exact same thing when Erin Grey donned that wig in that episode. Hilarious.

    Atom Kid- The whining cry baby Annakin (i.e. "Annie") could have really used a liberal dose of good ol' fashioned 70's macho.

    Don - Pretty boy Ted McGinley would deserve it.

    capewood - The same minds behind the AWESOME show UFO made the lousy Space:1999... no comprende.

    Kim - The original Fonz was a sort of mysterious character - slightly dangerous. By 1980 he had morphed into a character that would make Fred Rogers look threatening.

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  8. We've been watching the Buck Rogers series at our house, and I'm frequently amazed at how 70s it is. I did read something about how Lucas tried to edit out some of the fashions in the newly redone versions of Star Wars, like Luke's sideburns and such.

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  9. I actually prefered Happy Days in the very beginning when the Fonz was kind of selfish. It worked making the show seem a little more realistic. I liked him a lot as a kid, but now I think the show turn a turn for the worst when he became the star of the show.
    Space 1999 had some promise in the first season, but the second season was dreadful.

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  10. There will be bell bottoms in the future because kids won't have bicycles.

    No sprockets to get them caught in. No embarrassing grease stains in a gear shaped pattern to have friends laugh at.

    Sorry I just returned to the fifth grade for a minute.

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  11. I remember that Laverne and Shirley also said "screw it" and at many points, Carmine Ragusa was wearing Calvin Klein jeans.

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  12. Retrohound - The real question when watching Buck Rogers is "what ISN'T 70's about it?" Literally, everything has that 70's vibe.

    Metal Mark - They basically neutered the Fonz. I was prepared for him to trade in his leather jacket and motorcycle for a sweater vest and a KIA Sportage.

    Brian - You bring back vivid memories, sir.

    dguzman - The Big Ragu wore Calvin Kleins? Was this before or after he left for NYC to join the cast of Fame? :-)

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  13. I do remember that Happy Days tried to do at LEAST one show that dealt with 1960's era . Remember the one about the rising popularity of folk music ?? That was actually a good episode !! I agree that the earlier shows from the early seasons were better . I did not like the later shows with more of the focus on Fonzie as much !!

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