Sep 21, 2010
Pink Lady... and Jeff “Episode #3” (part 1 of 2)
I was doing prep work on this recap the other day, when I took a break to peruse the newly rereleased Moonwalk. There, I stumbled upon a passage about the mid-’70s variety show the Jacksons did shortly after they left Motown. Michael Jackson had this to say about it.
It’s a dead-end road. What happens is partly psychological. You are in people’s homes every week and they begin to feel like they know you too well. You’re doing all this silly comedy to canned laughter and your music begins to recede into the background. When you try to get serious again and pick up your career where you left off, you can’t because you’re overexposed.
And of course, if there’s one thing Michael Jackson hated, it was overexposure. And spider-themed drug dealers. But in all seriousness, why would anyone consider it to be a good career choice when it’s a proven fact that variety shows are where careers go to die?
But enough stalling, we have a recap to do!
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Well, it looks like the people of thirty years ago heard my request, and returned to comedy! Yeah?
This time around, the modern-day intro from Jeff is actually informative, letting us know that Hugh Hefner guest starred on this episode as a favor to the Krofft brothers, since one of them was married to a former Playmate.
Okay, space, bird, baseball, this week’s guests are B.J. and the Bear’s Greg Evigan, the Bear himself, Cheap Trick, the aforementioned Hef, and the Playmates. I know it seems sexist to list them as a single entity, but the show is apparently justified, since Modern Jeff has informed us they’re a “band”. Okay, then.
Still, I feel sorry for Cheap Trick; despite being exactly the kind of band Rhino could get behind, they’re not listed as guests on the box. Now, it could be that they sued to stay out of the copy, but I really doubt they even remembered this gig, since they’re not actually involved.
For those who don’t know, B.J. and the Bear was a show about a truck driver who owned a monkey. I’ve never seen it, but I can’t picture watching it, because it fails my litmus test for high-concept sitcoms: “What would they do every week?” If I can’t answer that, I don’t watch! Saves me a lot of headaches.
Cheap Trick was the band that did “I Want You to Want Me”, and was generally considered to be a rock band for nerds, but made it big in Japan before breaking in America. Their most famous album, At Budokan, which Rolling Stone ranked as one of the greatest albums of all time, came out a year before, and they were still sort of popular around this time.
These days, Cheap Trick is best known for doing the theme for That ‘70s Show. If that’s all you recognize them from, nothing I say will get you interested in them, but while we’re on the subject, why does everyone hate season 8? Most shows in their final season say, “Fuck it.” ‘That ‘70s Show said, “Fuck it, let’s just go for it!” As a result, they were funnier than they’d been in years. But I digress.
The swan erases Bear chewing on a cigar, and we get to Jeff’s monologue: he only changed his name to Jeff because someone was already using ”Sex Pistols”, Syracuse, NY is cold and full of tough people, pratfall, Mie and Kei come out and finally, they perform one of their own songs, “UFO”.
But it should be noted right off the bat that even though she’s about to perform a song she’s been doing for years, Kei still looks ready to kill someone. Why? They’re finally getting out of the group’s way and letting them do their thing, with their bestselling song, no less. Still, this wasn’t all that long before she and Mie parted ways.
So, now that they’ve been freed up, temporarily, from having to sing in English, how does this opener stack up?
None too shabbily, although Asia in the late ‘70s was apparently quite a kinky time. The girls’ choreography is bizarre beyond words, as if they took all the parts from the disco combos that people weren’t so fond of (the wheel for the disco truck, for example) and threw them together at random. Still, the way they’ve timed them perfectly to the music helps considerably. The song, by the way, sounds like a mix between the themes from a high tech spy movie and some of the better episodes of Lupin the 3rd. If you’re not a habitual anime watcher, it may not be your cup of tea, but I actually want to track down one of their albums now.
The blondes come out, dressed in some ridiculous astronaut costumes (upstage the stars at your own peril, after all), and do their best to keep up with those wacky foreigners. Let’s just say that those smiles look very forced.
But suddenly, the editors throw us a curveball, and break out the blue screen on us. The girls are instantly transported across space (and flowers) and back to reality a few times before the stunned audience bursts into applause, possibly because for the first time since the show started, there was something you couldn’t see coming. Plus, the black one-pieces suit them much better than their pink dresses.
And just like that, we’re back to the banter, although I like this switch back to the stale gags, because listening to Kei trade barbs with Jeff is the only thing I really like about this show. Jeff compliments them on being so talented, which leads to, you guessed it, Mie sucking up and Kei being a bitch. Still, her English has improved tremendously since last week. She may actually know what she’s saying now. Jury’s still out on the other one, though.
Jeff leads them into discussing politics, since it was an election year, and trying to explain how a government works to someone from a foreign country is always good for a few yuks.
(Now, right about here is where you would expect me to include a little historical tidbit about how Reagan trounced Carter and ushered in a decade of excess and poorly thought-out metaphors for future politicians of both parties, but I won’t, since I actually like Jimmy Carter. Still, by March of 1980, he basically would’ve had to legalize public orgies to have any chance of winning.)
Kei asks why America doesn’t have an emperor, which leads Jeff to break out his Richard Nixon impression again. And I think Kei actually got that joke! I’ll make her a mimetic badass yet.
Ho-hum, what would it be like if Jeff ran for president? And what would it be like if the sumo wrestler from the first episode was his running mate? We’ll sadly never know. Jeff gets chased off, and the girls introduce……
Sorry. Fell asleep there for a second.
Back from commercial and it’s time for… the art sketch. Huh? No Radio Dance? Great, now I’m all mixed up. Jeff’s moved the art gallery out into the parking lot, in honor of Vincent Price’s birthday [?].
This week’s sketch within a sketch is a speech from Jeff as Jimmy Carter. Again. Jim Varney is some guy from the network they hired to spice up Carter’s image, and I recognize the haughty voice as the one Ernest always used when he dressed up as an old lady.
Oh god, they’ve made Carter a talk show host. Reusing sketches is one thing, but combining them is just weird.
Carter gives a standard presidential speech as the Playmates walk by carrying signs with his policies on them (and none of them are hitting their cues, I might add).
He brings out his first guest, Charo (or a reasonable facsimile thereof), to explain inflation.
Remember, kids, cocaine is bad.
His next guest is here to explain the “Energy Crunch”, and it’s another cast member as Bette Midler. Since this cast member turns up in so many of these sketches, I probably should learn her name, but since I’ve never had to single her out before, I really don’t care.
She brings out some backup dancers, they do a god-awful spoof of “Yes, We Have No Bananas”, and forgetting to close the original sketch again (did no one explain to them how a show within a show works?), we cut to Greg Evigan, and his… band… I guess. Did you guys know he had a band?
Actually, once upon a time Greg Evigan sang on Broadway, and even played the second Danny Zuko in the original run of Grease. He then went on to star in My Two Dads, Tekwar, Desperate Housewives, and basically everything else. The year before Pink Lady, he did a pilot with Paul Shaffer for a show about the Devil, and even did an album with him. I love pop culture.
Greg sings and plays the saxophone with what looks like the remaining members of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Once again, I’m completely dumbfounded as to what song this might be. Greg probably wrote it himself, but it sounds like something off of Chicago’s first album. Greg’s an okay singer, I guess. I can see why he’s better known as an actor, but his voice has more character than a certain half of a brother-sister duo I could mention.
The meet and greet begins with Mie pretending that she has any idea what B.J. and the Bear is. Which, once again, is a setup for more lame jokes at Jeff’s expense. Bear comes running onstage when Jeff mentions the Playboy Bunnies (the setup isn’t any funnier than the punch line, so I won’t bore you with it), and it’s time for a commercial break.
When we come back, we’re treated to what can only be described as an unholy mutation of the Radio Dance. It’s the Magazine Dance!
The girls sing from the cover of a gossip magazine, while the blackout gags involve bits of celebrity gossip about Richard Dawson getting surgery for his lips, the nature host Jeff played in episode one marrying a fish, and Orson Welles doing a nude spread (shudder).
And then comes our first appearance by Hugh Hefner! Jeff, as Nixon (again), interviews to be Playboy’s new executive, which is just, you guessed it, a setup for a lame joke about Henry Kissinger. I swear, if the recycling gets any worse, this week’s letter home will be about Mie and Kei going to Hollywood to star in a film based on a Broadway play.
Never mind, that sketch is over now. They’ll do the Radio Dance next week. We can move on with our lives.
Fire will cleanse our sins! Fire will cleanse our sins!!
What the hell was that supposed to be? They decided their cheap showbiz gags weren’t getting enough air time? And they do this sketch again in episode five? Dammit! Dammit all to fuck!
Relax. That’s it, Michael, relax. They’ve moved on to the next bit already.