Pink Lady... and Jeff “Episode #2” (part 1 of 2)
America seems to have a love-hate relationship with the late Jim Varney. One the one hand, just about everybody liked him as a person, but on the other, it was generally conceded that just about everything he was involved with was dogshit.
Sure, the Ernest movies made a pile of money, and many of them still hold up to this day, but no one’s allowed to admit that. In a way, he’s like a Bizarro-version of Mr. T: he’s a talented entertainer in movies that people actually saw, but would never make an animated film that much more awesome just by being in it. (Only the real Mr. T could do that. And Bruce Campbell.)
As I said before, Pink Lady was his big break. Sure, he did some earlier stuff, but I defy you to name any of it. (Admittedly, being on The Johnny Cash Show would seem pretty major, but I don’t know if anyone remembers it; besides, the Ernest commercials which made him a star didn’t debut until well after this piece of crap went on the air, making my insanely convoluted theory sound as a pound.)
The reason I mention all this is that this episode, in contrast to the previous Jeff-centric episode, seems to be all Jim Varney, all the time. Sort of. Which is a step in the right direction any way you slice it, but that just gets your hopes up that much higher, since even he couldn’t make any of this work.
So join me once again as I devote more thought to this show than anyone in history.
Ho-hum, swan flying through space, baseball field, ah! Here we are. This week’s guests are Donny Osmond, Sid Caesar, Teddy Pendergrass, and Larry Hagman. Also, the box lists Jim Varney as a guest, despite his being a member of the cast… Huh. We see more clips from the upcoming episode, and this week focuses more on the musical numbers than sketches, only instead of the Hollywood sign, the bird erases a scene depicting what looks like a hoedown on the Great Wall of China.
I’m not sure what part of that paragraph to disbelieve first.
So, let’s see, this week’s line-up includes:
- A guy who got famous for being the first in a long line of white Michael Jackson impersonators.
- A once legendary comic and television pioneer, now an old man slowly biding his time on the Celebrity Roast circuit until the first Comic Relief special briefly rekindles an interest in his work, six years after this episode airs.
- A recently deceased singer that everyone gushed over when they heard he passed, a significant number of which probably couldn’t even name any of his songs.
- And finally, a guy who, at the time, was mostly thought of as being the male lead from I Dream of Jeannie, with Dallas having not quite caught on just yet.
Before we get too far into the show, I thought I’d take a second to share a bit of history about Mie and Kei, since the last time I treated them with as little thought as this show did. Besides, their back story makes this whole mess even more sad.
In 1976, teenagers Mitsuyo Nemoto and Keiko Masuda appeared on the Japanese version of Star Search, and made such an impression that the recording industry snapped them up, and in less than five months they saw their first single, “Pepper Keibu”, hit #4. By March of 1980, they’d released sixteen Top 40 hits, starred in a movie, gotten their own anime on what is now TV Tokyo, and become the second Japanese group in American history to score a hit single with “Kiss in the Dark”, which debuted on the The Leif Garrett Show in 1979. (See, they did just give anybody their own show!)
However, by the time NBC sunk their filthy claws into them, the girls had tarnished their reputations following a scandal involving a New Year’s Eve special and a school for the blind. In fact, their participation on this show was basically a Hail Mary pass to save their careers.
In the end, they slunk back to Japan with their tails between their legs. They had a few more singles, sinking as low as #85, before finally disbanding a year later, becoming has-beens while still in their early twenties.
In the final twist in this long and strange trip, Mie ended up, get this, singing lead for a heavy metal supergroup that did covers of TV theme songs. No, really.