The Rich Little Show was a mid-season replacement in 1975, and somehow managed to last until 1976. It was a time when everyone had their own variety show, so why not Rich Little? Well, I'll tell you why not.
Before I launch into things, let me preface it by saying I have immense respect for Rich Little. The guy definitely payed his dues on the talk show circuit, night clubs, and celebrity specials. The dude was everywhere. But he never quite connected with the younger generation the way, say a Steve Martin could. His impersonations were of John Wayne, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Stewart and Groucho Marx. Not exactly a kid friendly repertoire. Thus, I've never been much of a fan, but I can still appreciate his work.
Like all shows of this ilk, it starts with a monologue. Precious few imitations (his strength), heavy on one liners (his weakness) - not a great plan of attack to start out the show. But I can appreciate the wardrobe - Little's suits are badass.
Charlotte Rea was Little's sidekick/regular performer. While I liked in Rae Diff'rent Strokes and Facts of Life, I'm not so much a fan at her sketch comedy skills. Where Carol Burnett had Tim Conway and Harvey Korman to support her, Rich Little had Charlotte Rae. Not a recipe for success.
Rich Little shines when he gets a chance to do his imitations midway through each show. There was even audience suggestions (probably pre-planned); but still, a good performance.... but, again, completely lost on the younger generation.
Of course, the best thing about any variety show are the celebrity guests. Here, The Rich Little Show was pretty damn respectable with guests such as Glenn Ford (above), Andy Griffith, Bill Cosby, Ron Howard, Michael Landon, Bob Hope, William Conrad, Bing Crosby, The Hudson Brothers, Bernadette Peters, Chad Everett, Sandy Duncan, Mel Torme, and Starsky & Hutch (David Soul and Paul Michael-Glaser).
Susan St. James
Susan St. James again with Little as Groucho.
John Davidson. My father met him back in the sixties - he said he was kind of a dick. I can see that.
The Jackson 5 were awesome entertainers.. but their comedy skit skills weren't the sharpest. It didn't help that the writing was horrible.
The Jackson 5 as Sweathogs.
This skit was beyond awkward.
Words cannot describe.
Freddy Prinze wants to shag the "Family Hour Fairy" in the back of his van....and I'm not basing this on his thousand yard stare. This was a part of the skit. I've said before that Prinze is in the top ten funniest people of all time, and I still stand by it.
Big Ben, this here's Rubber Duck. And I'm about to put the hammer down. Hell yes.
Betty White - as omnipresent then as she is now.
My idol - Martin Milner (AKA Officer Pete Malloy)
All in all, I'd recommend it for retrophiles only. It's not as well put together as Sonny & Cher, Captain & Tennille or Tony Orland & Dawn. It's also not as interesting in terms of being a pop culture oddity like The Brady Bunch Variety Hour or Pink Lady & Jeff. It falls somewhere in the mediocre middle. Only 70s-aholics need apply.