The Captain and Tennille Show

For those of you with a love for the 1970's, it is imperative that you find some way to watch this show immediately after reading this post. There is no greater time capsule of all that is holy about the 70's. The show is literally brimming with cheesy guest stars, audacious musical interludes, and an all-encompassing omnipresent groovyness.

As far as variety shows went, there were some awful ones (Shields and Yarnell, The Starland Vocal Band, and even Donnie and Marie had lousy shows), but some were quite good: The Tony Orlando and Dawn Show was the penultimate. Orlando was a natural and charismatic entertainer who really knew how to work a crowd and deliver a memorable performance week after week. In contrast, the Captain and Tennille maybe weren't quite as gifted in these certain areas, but they made up for it with lots of flair.

Every episode basically followed the same outline; so, let's take a tour through the show's first episodes to give you an idea of the grandeur that was The Captain & Tennille Show.

It always began with an awful joke about the Captain's hat or the fact that he doesn't talk much. These two points of humor are beat to death every single week without fail.

Once the Captain's hat/innate quietness jokes have been deployed, they are followed by a Tennille musical interlude. The woman could break into song at the drop of a hat (no pun intended). Her dancers with big white bow ties certainly were snazzy! More about them later.

Well, look who just happened to show up... Miss Penny Marshall! Guest stars were always just popping by in the 70's. Behind every curtain there lurked a McLean Stevenson or some such celebrity, ready to stroll onstage to raucous applause. Here, Penny is offering her advice to the Captain so that he might become more demonstrative (I told you the joke was beat to death).

Always an opportunity was made for a cameo by their beloved English Bulldogs, Broderick and Elizabeth (R.I.P.).

Each episode included a reliably unfunny pre-recorded skit. In this episode, Toni hits a tennis ball clear around the globe whilst the poor Captain follows its course by land, sea and air... only to circumnavigate the earth and collapse on the same tennis court from which he started. Ha, ha, ha, ha! Well, okay- it wasn't funny in the slightest. But at least it was done to the tune of Billy Preston's "Will It Go Round in Circles".

The one and only Jackie Gleason pays a visit smoking a cigarette and sporting a pink bowling shirt opened practically to his navel. Of course, Gleason is quick to unleash the hat/quiet jokes upon the Captain to much fanfare.

If this is not a 1970's looking set, then I don't know what is. In this segment Cap and Tennille have strewn pillows around the stage to invite the audience to come and sit Indian style with them. A groovy way to get personal with the fans. I always marvelled at the extensive array of keyboards the Captain would simultaneously play - he was actually quite a talented musician.

Ron Palillo and Lawrence Hilton Jacobs from "Welcome Back, Kotter" and Penny Marshall (again) join Toni for what is easily the least funny skit since the very creation of the skit format. The show's chillingly poor jokes were part of its charm - and the opportunity to see Horshack and Boom Boom was enough to keep me happy back then.

This last segment deserves extensive analysis. I apologize for not doing it justice. It all begins with the most gay looking dancers in the world, who make Madonna's dancers look masculine. The dance number is supposed to take place in 2076; so, I guess that explains the clothing - it doesn't excuse it, it just explains it.

The routine is to the tune of "Shop Around" sung by Toni Tennille, and boy do these dancers get into it! Of course, this wasn't that unusual. Tennille often pranced among flamboyantly dressed men who were obviously light in their loafers. Here she is singing "Honky Cat" by Elton John.

Look, more guest stars! Bob Hope and Redd Foxx together on stage. Does it get any better than this?

But wait, as if that little slice of heaven weren't enough, we get Travolta lip-syncing his little heart out.

I think every Welcome Back, Kotter star besides Mr. Woodman made some kind of appearance on Captain & Tennille. In the next segment Travolta trades in his Medieval pageboy attire in favor of something more conventional. This time he's singin' "Don't Go Breakin' My Heart" with Toni. Suffice it to say, he and Elton John have very different vocal ranges.

Of course, it was better than this little duet...

Just so you can't say I didn't warn you - Gabe Kaplan, Leonard Nimoy, and Donny Most all sing in this first few episodes. Ron Howard's voice was like a rusty fork being scraped on glass.

Say what you want about the bad singing and bad jokes, the show had one thing in spades and that was energy. You'd have to be one dour son-of-a-bitch to not feel good after watching this show. They were cheesy and didn't care because they were simply having too much fun... and it was contagious.


  1. Did you know that Toni Tennille sang back up vocals on PInk Floyd's The Wall LP?

    I have been whining about Blogger templates and I found at site at :


    that offers some new templates to play with. Many are certainly a departure from the regular themes and some have that stylized Worpress look.

    I have some trouble opening a lot of the themes to preview or download but you may not have the same issues.


  2. I just wanted to say that that template site and another one I found, better at;


    Are for any plans you have for future blogs. I do not think it is good to change templates in Blogger after you have lots of gadgets and widgets. For fun I started yet another blog at


    And it is just for some weird writing I do or really used to do. But that is one of the templates I downloaded then uploaded into Blogger by an XML file. It is not one of the standard themes.

    Anyway, sorry to not rant about Tennille and Daryl Dragon... but I have been messing with all day and in cse you make changes one day it is an option.


  3. Hey Gilligan. Wow! What a cool write-up. I loved the pictures. That is one groovy set. Definitely takes me back to so much of what I loved about the 70's. I do remember seeing this show some as a kid. My parents were always big fans of theirs. I remember that their show was one of the ones that we watched a lot. I miss shows like this.

  4. Bill- Yeah, I have heard she worked with Floyd. She has an incredible voice in my opinion ("Song of Joy" really shows what she could do) and Darryl was a very accomplished keyboardist who'd done work with the Beach Boys.

    As far as blogger templates go, it's too late to change over, and I doubt I'll ever start up another blog considering I spend way too much time on this one already.

    Keith- Glad you enjoyed the stroll down memory lane. My family loved the show too. It was a very wholesome show and it featured some music I liked at the time. Sure, you'd never see Pink Floyd or Led Zep caught dead on the Captain and Tennille show; but back then I didn't mind considering I cared a lot more about guys like Tim Conway and Barry Gibb than Jimmy Page or Roger Waters, if you know what I mean.

  5. God, I miss variety shows.

  6. I loved the old variety shows... too bad Rosie O'Donnel pretty much killed it forever. I think someone like Bonnie Hunt could bring it back... (it wouldn't be all about her.

    I LOVED The Captain & Tennille (back then). I can remember asking for the Love Will Keep Us Together album for Christmas... I think I wore it out. I'm curious if it stands up today.

    Thanks for the great memories!

  7. OMG, I loved this show! I loved the Captain and Tennille! Remember the "Muskrat Love" routine, where there are these people in muskrat outfits, dancing and stuff? Awesome. Quality entertainment for a young dguzman. Of course, it also might explain my terribly white-girl dancing.

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  9. Anybody recall the "Batman" joke they did on the show? The Captain walks into a skit wearing a full Batman costume, except for the mask. He also is wearing his usual trademark hat.

    Toni asks him if he's Batman. His reply?

    "No. I'm HATman!"


    My Dad, a trucker back then, once pulled into a truck stop next to a bus carrying the Cap and Tenille, as well as Telly Salvalas and such, on a road tour appearance of some sort..

    He said C & T were fighting.

    Al Bigley

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