Pink Lady... and Jeff “Episode #4” (part 1 of 2)
You know, finding out just how successful Greg Evigan was last time around got me thinking. Maybe I’ve been too hard on Jeff. Just because I’ve never heard of him outside this show doesn’t mean he didn’t make something of himself, right? So I moseyed over to the IMDb and took a look at his CV. Damn.
Recurring characters on Letterman, Tiny Toons, the various Ghostbusters cartoons, Baywatch, Nurses, Bee Movie? The man’s rent is clearly getting paid. But on the other hand, I’m also seeing Highlander 2 and a guest spot on The Starland Vocal Band Show. Crap attracts other crap, as I always say.
Then, of course, there’s this. Seven minutes and I did not laugh once.
But I think you’ll find this episode to be a real treat; not only do they bring Sid Caesar back for more, but this episode is… well…
You know how sometimes two sitcoms will have a crossover? Like when Cheers did one with Wings, or when The Simpsons met The Critic? Or my favorite, when Gilligan’s Island met ALF?
Well, you’re probably not too familiar with this idea, since it rarely happens anymore. Because, let’s face it, it’s a bad idea. It already takes enough twisting and leaps of faith just to wrap your mind around Jack Tripper having to pretend to be gay to live with two chicks; how would it work if the three of them took a trip to the east coast and just happened to stop at Archie Bunker’s Place for a drink? And met Kolchak on the way out? Then got a flat tire, and had to catch a ride from B.J. and the Bear? Doesn’t work, right?
Well, this is an example of the rarest of all: a crossover between two shows that aired on the same night, quickly flopped, and sank without a trace. Of course, this being a variety show, they have a little more leeway, but you have to love the fact that they honestly thought these two shows could help each other. You see, normally when they do a crossover, it’s between a huge success and something that’s about to be cancelled. It’s what I like to call the Cynical Cycle of Cross-Promotion (CCCP), and brother, it does not pay off here.
On the other hand, these were part of the same lineup that gave us The Facts of Life, and only communists hate The Facts of Life.
Okay, opening credits. This week’s guests are Florence Henderson, Lorne Greene, Boomer the Dog, another music video by Blondie, and Sid Caesar!
Why yes, this was the episode where they just gave up. Why do you ask?
For those who already know, but are indulging me anyway:
- Florence Henderson was Carol Brady. That’s pretty much it. Oh, also, I think she was on The Surreal Life once. She’s here largely because the Kroffts were responsible for The Brady Bunch Variety Hour, and probably enjoyed torturing small animals as children.
- Lorne Greene first became famous during WWII as “The Voice of Canada”, a respected radio journalist who later branched out into acting, appearing in the film Peyton Place, making a number of documentaries, having a brief but memorable career as a country singer in the ‘60s (hitting #1 with “Ringo”), and having a long run on television, appearing in Roots, Highway to Heaven, and even Police Squad! But you don’t care about any of that, because this is the internet and the fact that he was on the original Battlestar Galactica is the only thing you’ll take away from this. In fact, I doubt you’ll even continue reading after that. Also, there was something about a show called Bonanza. I vaguely remember The Simpsons making a joke about it once.
- Boomer the Dog was the star of Here’s Boomer, a show that even Wikipedia doesn’t know anything about, although it does list “boomer” as a psilocybin mushroom. Either way, the pooch is… cuddly.
- Since there’s nothing I can really add about Blondie, I’ll just point out that something I came across in my notes, which says that these music videos were actually made for a home video release, and this was a roundabout way of promoting it. By never mentioning its existence. Huh.
- Sid Caesar is the biggest masochist in the world.
Jeff doesn’t even bother with a monologue, and brings the girls out in record time. Mie and Kei blast into the old standard “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”. Okay, remember how I said J-pop singers should stay the hell away from soul? That includes Motown.
I’m honestly not sure how to feel right now. On the one hand, the girls have had trouble just singing normally in English, and a song like this one, where hitting just the right inflection is key, you would think that the last way they should have done it is as an upbeat disco song. I’m having flashbacks to Debbie Reynolds singing “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, it’s that bad. On the other hand, the original version by the Supremes wasn’t that great to begin with. If you ask me, the song wouldn’t really hit its stride until Kim Wilde got hold of it. Of course, Kim Wilde can make anything better.
Jeff brings them out for the standard pep talk about their English, which is notable only because it features an inverse of their “Yes… no” gag, which, if you’ve been paying attention, I’ve not bothered to mention even once in any of these recaps. Yeah.
Turns out the girls are looking for an apartment, and need Jeff to translate the abbreviations in the classifieds, which leads to them reading a particularly vulgar personal ad. Mie thinks Jeff should go into “will estate”, which leads to a lame gag about E.F. Hutton involving the sumo wrestler belching [?].
Incidentally, the guy who took down E.F. Hutton would later settle the estate of Sammy Davis, Jr.
Back from commercial, Jeff and the girls bring out Lorne Greene to teach them about how to be successful in television (foreshadowing). It turns out the girls watch his show all the time back home, and are amazed he can speak English so well. Lorne tries to explain dubbing, leading Kei to look down his mouth (don’t ask).
Jeff makes an off-hand comment about how Galactica 1980 will last a long time (no it didn’t), while Lorne explains that if they want their show to last, they need to make it more like Bonanza. (That mental image is funnier than anything they’ve ever done on the show.)
Lorne hits on the girls, leaves the show to cash his check, and doesn’t return, and then we finally get to the Radio Dance. I don’t know if they ever do it again (they don’t in Episode #5, and it isn’t on the Lost Episode’s chapter list), but I do know that this was the last one America actually saw. So, just for a change of pace, I’ll go into a little more detail this time around, as my way of saying goodbye, ya know?
First up, Jeff and Jim Varney are convicts at a prison radio station (boy, that transition took a lot of thought). It’s Jim’s last show on account of he’s being executed, and on his way out Jeff hands him a stack of TV dinners. Jeff puts on ”Light My Fire” and does a little dance, which is only cut short briefly while the electric chair drains all the power out of the building. This prompts Jeff to shout, “Dinner’s ready.” Headdeskheaddeskheaddesk.
Next, Jeff plays a consumer activist (I should just stop right here, shouldn’t I?). He shuts down a little girl’s lemonade stand for not having enough inorganic chemicals, and splashes her in the face. He has some truncheon-bearing goons wreck her stand while announcing that next, he’ll throw grenades into an old lady’s bingo parlor. Jeff does another pratfall. Headdeskheaddeskheaddesk.
The Radio Dance ends after only two jobs, and we wave goodbye to one of the more tolerable recycled bits these lazy hacks coughed up. Sigh. Goodbye Radio Dance. Wherever you go, say hi to Shilo’s gas mask when you get there.