6/3/13

The Boob Tube #42 : Celebrity Specials



You remember specials, right? I'm not talking about TV Movies - I mean, singing, dancing, and cheesiness abounding.  I mean the type brimming with Love Boat regulars and Hollywood Squares veterans. They don't exist anymore, but in the seventies and early eighties there was lots of fanfare around even the dumbest variety special.... and we lapped them up and begged for more.

The shame of it is hardly any of them are available to watch.  They're not the sort of thing to get transferred to DVD or offered via streaming.  Some have been uploaded to YouTube, but they're typically grainy VHS transfers, hardly watchable.




Take for instance this Lindsay Wagner special.  Who wants to watch Lindsay sing show tunes and frolic with her new hubby, the debonair and thickly bearded Michael Brandon.  I know I do - I'd pay good money to see it again - but I know I'm an anomaly.... a glitch in the Matrix, if you will.

Some well meaning gentleman has indeed uploaded it to YouTube, but, like most vintage YouTube videos, it's in horrible shape.  I want to see Paul Anka's polyester leisure suit and deep unhealthy tan in HD dammit!


And speaking of special guests - oh, the humanity!  Let's just say the term "special guest" was used very liberally on these shows.  Take for instance the Siegfried and Roy special guest - Cydy Garvey.  She was the wife of Dodger superstud Steve Garvey and fake co-host of the fake sports show "Games People Play" which at least is responsible for unleashing Mr. T onto the world.  But I digress...


More often than not, these specials were geared toward the WWII generation or the Silent Generation.  These were shows your grandpa would watch from his La-Z-Boy; these shows were never "cool", they never had a chance to making it to DVD.

But here on Retrospace, we miss them.  We want to watch them again.  But we're not holding our breath - so, instead let's have a look at their ephemeral TV Guide listings. Enjoy.



 "Where Have All the Children Gone?" AKA "We Are Living in a World of Shit"


 More appropriate title: "Dolphins, Whales, and Elle Macpherson's Boobs"









42 comments:

  1. You bring up a good question. Sadly, these one-off specials went the way of the TV dinosaur like the celebrity-headed "Variety show". Those were also things our parents enjoyed.

    What do I miss? The elaborate music video each major network made showcasing their new season. They were singing on the set of Cheers one second, and dancing on the set of Hill Street Blues the next.

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  2. I did not realize how much I missed these "specials" until your post.
    Thanks one heck of a lot.
    I must be getting middle aged.

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  3. I recall these kinds of specials being broadcast during summer, when kids were outside playing until 10 Pm leaving TV to our elders. Also have to wonder where are some of these special guest stars now? Mimi Kennedy? The Mike Curb Congration?

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    1. Mike Curb Congregation. Reminiscent of Up With People?

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCjWQHpu3bY

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    2. Well, Mike Curb became Lt. Gov of California. Every time the Governor left the state, he started making appointments.

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  4. No one today would allow their ego to subside enough to be a "guest" star on someone else's special.

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  5. Those all star saturdays were the best, as they were high energy, and showed previews of all the new saturday cartoons and shows.

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  6. Holy cow! I've got to get a poster of Martin Mull laying his head on Johnny Cash's shoulder!

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    1. It's kind of scary how much Mull looks like Jeff Foxworthy in that photo.

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  8. Fantastic – true '70s cheese! They just don't make entertainers like Carl Ballentine, Avery Schreiber, Heintje, Little Evie Tornquist, Randy Gardner & Tai Babilonia anymore.

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  9. I lived for those David Copperfield specials in the early 80s -- "sponsored by Clorox". :)

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  10. "We're watching the Night Of A Thousand Stars special"
    "Oh Mum, not that! Hawaii 5-0's on the other side!"
    "You watch that every week and it's always the same. Linsay Wagner and Linda Evans are in this show and I want to watch it for the fashions"
    "Please no...can I go to my room?"
    "No...we're going to spend an evening as a family...oh look, there's that guy I like from that show"
    "Gary Collins"
    "Gabby Rollins?"
    "No, Gary Collins"
    "Harry Dobbins?"
    "NO! GA-RY COL-LINS!"
    "What was that show he was in...ooh, look! Fabulous dress Valerie Harper has on!"
    "I want to die"

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  11. You know I never thought I'd miss these shows until seeing these ads (And a Baltimore reference with WBAL!)
    Also, a early's 90s ad with Dolphins, Whales and Us?

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  12. Kaptain Kool and the Kongs juxtapositioned with Shaun Cassidy, Scooby Doo, and Darth Vader - brilliant. Folks, TV just didn't get any better than that!

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  13. "Where Have All the Children Gone?" Obviously they're not here, since the average age of the cast has to be at least, what? 50? 55?

    And what people in 1977 "commanded" Charlie McCarthy? Probably me, the nerdy 10-year-old who had discovered old-time radio shows. Too bad W.C. Fields wasn't around any longer.

    I miss these specials!

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  14. A great post.

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  15. I saw many of those, and it's hard to pick a favorite, but the Lynda Carter special holds a special place as containing one the worst KISS covers in a music segment ever recorded :)

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  16. Neil ArmstrongJune 04, 2013

    Alan Shepard is reduced to being "The Man Who Played Golf on the Moon"?

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  17. Time for an All in the Family retrospective. Spent last night reviewing plots from past episodes; sure don't make them like they used to...

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  18. AnonymousJune 04, 2013

    This is the kind of stuff Antenna or Me Tv channel should be showing on Saturday nights.

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  19. Kaptain Kool and the Kongs

    I almost remember watching all those Cartoon preview specials.

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  20. I'm sorry. Those shows didn't interest me then and they don't interest me now. I remember watching a Sonny and Cher special in 1971, I think. This is before they had their regular show. In fact, I think their regular show was a result of the special. I remember watching it with my fellow early 20-something friends and we all thought it was wretched. I was amazed that it led to their weekly show, which I also thought was wretched.

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  21. I can't believe Shabba-Doo got a higher billing than Graham Chapman. And WOWSERS, Elle MacPherson.

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  22. Wow, thanks, Gabriel - I'm a big KISS fan, but I'd never seen THIS before - and now, I'll never be able to UN-see it.

    http://youtu.be/oqQM2X0V6hg

    Man!

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    1. AnonymousJune 04, 2013

      Bear in mind, the original was pretty damn heinous. The distraction of Lynda's chest makes this bearable.

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    2. Aw, c'mon Anon. IWMFLY wasn't the worst disco song, nor the worst KISS song, nor the worst Top Ten hit of '79.

      I'm with you on Lynda's contribution, though.

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    3. As I recall, Bernadette Peters chest was pretty impressive in these things as well.

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    4. When was Bernadette's chest *not* impressive?! And yeah, IWMFLY is a great song.

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  23. This brings back a lot of names I had completely forgotten--and a few I don't remember at all--Heintje???

    I think the 1977 Command Performance results were fixed however. Paul Williams was (is) a great songwriter and a superb talk show guest, but I can't believe anyone voted to watch him sing!

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  24. If they did stuff like this today, the "stars" would be truly lame. Christina Aguilaioiauiara would sing a duet with Larry the Cable Idiot. They'd put the jackasses from Twilight in some comedy skit about vampires with tooth decay. Some never-rightly-convicted murderous rapper thug would be in some other skit with some nobody from a reality show where he raps some unintelligible blatherings in his urban dialect and the reality nobody's only line is some catch phrase that he hollers at least 8 times in every episode of his ratings bonanza TV show for morons.

    Fuck current pop culture. It sucks harder than ever.

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    1. I laughed at this comment. But it was through tears of sadness. A roller coaster ride of emotions this comment.

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    2. Oh, I'm so touched by your rant, it's brought tears to my eyes!*

      */sarcasm

      If you couldn't see how crappy these shows were, you must be slipping mentally. I'd rather NOT have anybody do TV specials like this than have sour people like you put them down.

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    3. I don't know who this anonymous moron is that's been bringing down the IQ level around here, but it's funny how fucking pathetic [s]he is.

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  25. These things were still airing in the 90s, although rarely. They were usually magicians. I LIVED for Lance Burton's specials. I also remember one from the late 80s that was a whole bunch of magic acts performing at Disney. It was hosted by George Burns and Markie Post. Of course, it had Siegfried and Roy as well as my favorite has beens: The Pendragons.

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    1. They still air these now, but yeah, you're right, it's mostly magicians that do this kind of thing (Rosie O'Donnell tried a variety special in the early 2000's and it failed miserably.)

      These is still Stephan Colbert doing this, but it's mostly Christmas specials.

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  26. Cool feature! 1970's variety shows and specials were the apex of simple and fun coolness ...

    The one I have never seen but would love to is the summer replacement series the Starland Vocal Band ("Afternoon Delight") did ... how weird is that? Did they happen to be great diversified entertainers?

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    1. Most likely, they sucked, as did most of the variety shows, which is why most of them didn't last.

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  27. I'd like to see that Johnny Cash special just to see Martin Mull! :)

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  28. Now the Rodney Daingerfield special would have been worth watching, with just him on alone! And I remember those Sat. morning preview shows.

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  29. I used to wonder how the "guest star" line up was chosen. Maybe by finding out who's still in town, and looking for work? Some of these are real stretches.

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  30. SCTV made fun of these specials with a few skits:

    ''The Gene Shalit Critics Special" -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxDDgGHURxo

    YURI RASMONOVICH: GETTING TO KNOW YOU-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8fKERoSc64

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