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Scene from a bygone era
June 20, 2014 3:54 PM   Subscribe

For those of you born in the 80s or later, this is what counted for primetime entertainment back in our day.
posted by mudpuppie (150 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
Donny and Marie covering Steely Dan? Just another tragic example of white-on-white crime.
posted by Atom Eyes at 4:01 PM on June 20 [23 favorites]


AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
OH GOD I REMEMBER IT ALL
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 4:05 PM on June 20 [22 favorites]


i missed this in 1978 - i think i'm going to miss it in 2014, too

sorry
posted by pyramid termite at 4:07 PM on June 20 [8 favorites]


I will counter with proof that sometimes, the Osmonds (or the Osmond Brothers anyway) could kind be almost cool: Crazy Horses
posted by DirtyOldTown at 4:09 PM on June 20 [21 favorites]


I was fortunate enough to have been born to a rocker dad and an opera mom, so hatred of this sort of thing was cultivated from the very start.
posted by The World Famous at 4:09 PM on June 20 [4 favorites]


/slams lid back onto video

NOPE
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 4:15 PM on June 20 [12 favorites]


For those of you born in the 70's or earlier, this is what counted for primetime entertainment forward(?) in our day.
posted by The Confessor at 4:16 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


I remember the Busby Berkely choreography of the Ice Angels. I remember thinking it was quite WTF.

My coffee has more sugar in it than Donny Osmond had Rock & Roll in his entire person.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 4:16 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


I think that watchihg this Donnie and Marie video is valuable, as it helps one understand the (mainstream) cultural milieu of the late 70's, and makes things like PIL's 1980 appearance on American Bandstand make a lot more sense. This Donnie and Marie show is emblematic of what they were reacting to.
posted by crazy_yeti at 4:18 PM on June 20 [19 favorites]


I was fortunate enough to have been born to a rocker dad and an opera mom, so hatred of this sort of thing was cultivated from the very start.

I had the exact opposite upbringing. My parents liked Linda Ronstadt, Kenny Rogers, and other AM radio lite. Shaun Cassidy and the Doobie Brothers were about as hip as their records got.

Then when I was seven, we got basic cable and I turned on MTV. The video for Twilight Zone by Golden Earring was on and there were sexy lady cops in leather bathing suits torturing some dude tied to a chair. I turned the tv off and just sat there shaking for about five minutes. After I steeled myself enough to try again, I turned the set back on and Rock the Casbah by The Clash and I remember thinking: this is the coolest thing I have ever seen. I watched MTV for around seven more hours straight and by the end of the week my parents couldn't tell me shit about music. It was all Talking Heads, Duran Duran, and Van Halen for me and there was no looking back.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 4:20 PM on June 20 [59 favorites]


Seriously though, watch that Osmonds video for "Crazy Horses" I linked. It'll freak you out how hard that rocks.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 4:20 PM on June 20 [7 favorites]


People are always* going on about oh, why won't variety shows come back?

There are more than three channels and at least one of them has something else on. That's why.

*occasionally
posted by Sys Rq at 4:21 PM on June 20 [7 favorites]


TIL: Reeling in the Eaves has different lyrics.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 4:22 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


I was fortunate enough to have been born to a rocker dad and an opera mom...

So does that make you a little bit Puccini and a little bit rock & roll?
posted by Atom Eyes at 4:24 PM on June 20 [6 favorites]


I had forgotten how at one point in their lives Donny & Marie had pretty much the same haircut.
posted by JanetLand at 4:24 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


the incredible thing is, the Osmonds are now defense consultants
posted by thelonius at 4:25 PM on June 20 [7 favorites]


This reminds me of coming home from school and eating a bowl of cereal in the family room, with it's waist high pine paneling, where my mom would be chain smoking and watching General Hospital with Luke and Laura and then the spinoff Texas (I think? The final episode had some crap about God taking care of pregnant women to justify the return of a character that had been swept away by a flash flood).

I believe I was probably wearing a trucker style hat from my baseball house league, a mesh Dallas cowboys knock off shirt, Adidas shorts and a Nike waffle trainers. There was banana seat to bmx conversion in the garage waiting for me to finish those corn flakes so I could hit the undeveloped land on the edge of town and practice kick-outs and table-tops. But first I would have to finish my paper route so I could finish the bike conversion. Next purchase - anodized red valve caps baby!

I sometimes feel like I had the absolute worst best times. I'm just glad nobody had cameras.
posted by srboisvert at 4:29 PM on June 20 [21 favorites]


You know what's really sad? The song number isn't the worst part of this video -- it's the lame "comedy" patter after that.
posted by JanetLand at 4:30 PM on June 20 [6 favorites]


In 2014 it's really, really hard to convey just how much WTF?! was on network TV in the 1970's. The Osmonds abusing Steely Dan is pretty standard fare for the era. As this FPP from 2012 shows, 1970's variety shows were capable of much stranger musical interpretations.
posted by mosk at 4:32 PM on June 20 [4 favorites]


[Yes, I watched until the end, why do you ask?]
posted by JanetLand at 4:32 PM on June 20 [2 favorites]


The video for Twilight Zone by Golden Earring

An MG Midget? Seriously?? You couldn't outrun a bicycle cop in one of those.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:33 PM on June 20 [2 favorites]


And now you know why I spent all my money on records (vinyl) and concert tickets. MAKE IT STOP!!!!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:33 PM on June 20


Aw, there was really good TV in the 70s ... well, interesting TV. A couple of nights a week.

This wasn't one of those nights.
posted by allthinky at 4:34 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


The very first real concert I ever went to see was Donnie & Marie. I'm not proud about that, but I have made vast strides forward in the decades since.

To be honest, I was quite obsessed with Donnie & Marie when I was a kid. Looking back from now, they were talented but never allowed themselves to really stretch their talents beyond the safe zone.

But like all variety shows of the era, they were working in so many different genres, relentlessly, every week. It's hard to really focus and become sharp when you are spread so thin.

I hold nothing but fond memories for all the variety shows of that era I was watching while growing up: Captain & Tennille, Donny & Marie, Shields & Yarnell (so many ampersands, so little time!). Expanding only slightly you end up with Lawrence Welk and Hee Haw. It was a very different time in television programming, and it introduced me to a much wider variety of music and songs and artists than most get exposure to in this modern age of media fragmentation.
posted by hippybear at 4:35 PM on June 20 [9 favorites]


Then there's the debut episode of the Brady Bunch Variety Hour (a.k.a. the one with "fake Jan").
posted by jonp72 at 4:36 PM on June 20 [3 favorites]




This thread reminds me why I for one was not sorry to put the 80's behind me.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:39 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


I bought the Crazy Horses 45 when the song was in the Top 40, but in my defense, I was only 9 years old. Not gonna listen.
posted by Daddy-O at 4:40 PM on June 20


It's funny, when I was a kid, if you'd tried to tell me the Osmonds were the most horribly uncool thing on tv, I'd have said, "No WAY: Hee Haw is." Only now that I'm older, I think I could probably sit through some bad comedy sketches to see Buck Owens and guest stars like Johnny & June, Tom T Hall, Loretta Lynn, George Jones, and the like... Heck, I may got look up some of that now...

The Osmonds on the other hand, did not age so well.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 4:40 PM on June 20 [11 favorites]


Hmmm very interesting: ATTAKWP ("According to the All-Knowing Wikipedia"), "The song [Crazy Horses] is claimed to be a protest about the amount of pollution created by cars."
posted by crazy_yeti at 4:43 PM on June 20 [2 favorites]


The Donnie and Marie Show frequently committed crimes against the pop music of the period, most commonly during the 'cold open'...

Here they are opening their first show with K.C. and the Sunshine Band's "That's the Way (I Like It)" Okay, one of the most lightweight acts of the Disco era, but that doesn't mean it couldn't get even worse when 'Osmondized'.

Here's an awkward medley of Three Dog Night's "Celebrity Ball" and Rare Earth's "I Just Want to Celebrate" (with a performance by ice skater Peggy Flemng). Listen to the Standard Variety Show Chorus Singers do the line about "the people all let me down"...

And their rendition of Simon & Garfunkel's "Keep the Customer Satisfied"...

Maybe not as bad as the Steely Dan (the Simon & Garfunkel is close) but stilll... (and there's a YouTuber who has uploaded most of the series for posterity... yipes!)
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:44 PM on June 20 [3 favorites]


Hee Haw uncool?? But where else could you hear the likes of this here sort of Quality Humor:

"I crossed a doorbell with a hummingbird."
"What'd ya get?"
"I dunno, but it's a hum-dinger!"
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:44 PM on June 20 [11 favorites]


They got the shapely bodies - they got the Steely Dan t-shirts
posted by porn in the woods at 4:49 PM on June 20 [4 favorites]


Marie Osmond was the 2010 Grand Marshal of the Ogden Gay Pride Parade. I think she's swell.
posted by Ideefixe at 4:50 PM on June 20 [7 favorites]


Then when I was seven, we got basic cable and I turned on MTV. The video for Twilight Zone by Golden Earring was on and there were sexy lady cops in leather bathing suits torturing some dude tied to a chair. I turned the tv off and just sat there shaking for about five minutes. After I steeled myself enough to try again, I turned the set back on and Rock the Casbah by The Clash and I remember thinking: this is the coolest thing I have ever seen.

I remember seeing Gary Numan, Split Enz, Adam and the Ants, and Ultravox in rapid succession, c. 1981... all I know is that at one point I found myself half-screaming/half-crying, overcome with an on-the-cusp-of-adolescence mix of Beatlemania-style lust, confusion, and joy at finally being liberated from the likes of Journey and REO Speedwagon forever.
posted by scody at 4:50 PM on June 20 [16 favorites]


I had the dolls. Seriously.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 4:51 PM on June 20 [5 favorites]


I had the Donny & Marie FM Singalong Microphone.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 4:58 PM on June 20 [3 favorites]


I used to watch this show and if you watch it now, it's surprisingly self-aware, and the brothers were actually not half bad musicians. And I know plenty of grown women who still lust after Donny Osmond. They have their place in the pantheon.

liberated from the likes of Journey and REO Speedwagon forever.

*gives scody fisheye*
posted by jonmc at 5:01 PM on June 20 [5 favorites]


I think the biggest difference between then and now is the fact that, for all us people who were alive back then and already thought it was just awful back then — so many of us still watched it back then.

I can't really explain it, other than to say "Well, that's what was on TV that night." Yeah, that rock'n'roll meets feather boas look isn't around so much anymore, but I think the Internet youth can understand it. The feeling of "well, that's what's on so that's what we'll watch" — I don't know if they can understand that.

And the more I learn about Marie Osmond the more she sounds like a good person and the more I like her. Karawane jolifanto bambla o falli bambla, großiga m'pfa habla horem, you crazy diamond.
posted by benito.strauss at 5:07 PM on June 20 [6 favorites]


Donny and Marie's "I'm Leaving It All Up To You" was the first album I bought with my own money. In retrospect, any (most) (all?) of the songs are duets not intended for a brother and sister to sing together.

(Warning: this album contains a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad early-disco version of Cole Porter's "True Love," featuring a 40-second wakka-wakka instrumental intro from the Love Boat band.)
posted by Sweetie Darling at 5:28 PM on June 20


I had the Donny & Marie "Barbie" dolls, complete with the TV studio playset. Funny thing is, no-one in the house could stand Donny & Marie. though a few years earlier, my parents used to suffer through Lawrence Welk because my sister and I just loved it so much when they started waltzing
posted by crush-onastick at 5:35 PM on June 20 [2 favorites]


And I know plenty of grown women who still lust after Donny Osmond. They have their place in the pantheon.

Hopefully they now keep them cinched up instead of throwing them on the stage.
posted by hal9k at 5:37 PM on June 20 [2 favorites]


Charo performing "Love Will Keep Us Together" from a TV special that I think was a pilot for a variety show, maybe?
posted by dismas at 5:38 PM on June 20 [4 favorites]


I only somewhat ironically like that Charo clip. The rest of my like is unironic. boop-boop-bee-doop
posted by dismas at 5:40 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


I remember the Jackson 5's variety show. I don't remember Shields and Yarnell or any of the other mid-70s shows like that. I may have been too young to stay up to watch them on weeknights. I love the Dan, ergo, I am not going to watch that clip. I've seen other videos of Donny and Marie at uni for some of my TV classes, and... no.

But... this urban child watched and enjoyed Hee-Haw in the 70s, every Saturday at 5, and for 3 reasons: the segment each week where Buck and Roy were showin' off their fancy pickin', the "Where, Where Are You Tonight?", and the "Gloom, Despair, and Agony" song sketches, because I liked the music. It certainly wasn't the corny jokes. Whoever wrote those knew a hook, I'll tell you what. I still like hearing a good banjo player, and will sing "Gloom, Despair..." to myself during a crap work day.

"Gloom, despair and agony on me! (oooh!) Deep, dark depression, excessive misery! (::sob!::) If it waren't fer bad luck, I'd have no luck at all (whhaaaaoo)! Gloom, despair and agony on meeeeee!"
posted by droplet at 5:50 PM on June 20 [8 favorites]


Holy $hi+ that Crazy Horses video blew my damned mind. What the hell just happened there?!

I gotta go sit down
posted by petebest at 5:56 PM on June 20 [5 favorites]


I was wondering the other day why I used to read so much more than I do now.

Now I remember.
posted by notyou at 5:57 PM on June 20 [9 favorites]


The seventies were that bad, babies.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:04 PM on June 20 [5 favorites]


Donny and Marie's "I'm Leaving It All Up To You" was the first album I bought with my own money.

For a moment I read this as Leaving It Up To You, which would have made for an interesting dance sequence.
posted by ovvl at 6:08 PM on June 20


Gotta throw in some of the cornball stuff from CHiPs, like the discotheques with no booze, drugs, or sexual improprieties. That said, most of the CHiPs music itself is pretty good.
posted by crapmatic at 6:10 PM on June 20


It would've been so much more entertaining if they'd performed Don't Take Me Alive.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:11 PM on June 20 [3 favorites]


Ah, CHiPs. There's a doll I did have. I got a Ponch for my fifth birthday. He used to hang out with my Fonz doll and my old school GI Joe.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:15 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


And the more I learn about Marie Osmond the more she sounds like a good person and the more I like her.

I know at least three people who have met or worked with Donny, and they all said that in person he really is pretty cool.
posted by ovvl at 6:19 PM on June 20 [2 favorites]


Donnie and Marie have been doing a show in Vegas. Marie sings a mashup of "Walk This Way" and "These Boots Were Made For Walking." It's not worth watching but you can't look away. Are these the same kids?
posted by stbalbach at 6:21 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
OH GOD I REMEMBER IT ALL


Can you remember how you begged to stay up to watch? And to think that mom and dad knew best when they set that early bedtime.


The very first real concert I ever went to see was Donnie & Marie. I'm not proud about that, but I have made vast strides forward in the decades since.
As have we all, hippybear. As have we all.
*sigh*


I had the dolls. Seriously.
posted by fluffy battle kitten

I had the Donny & Marie FM Singalong Microphone.
posted by DirtyOldTown

Not eponywhatsis, but the juxtaposition of the names/toys made me snort.

posted by BlueHorse at 6:21 PM on June 20


That was glorious.
posted by maggiemaggie at 6:45 PM on June 20


Special guests Ruth Buzzi, Buddy Hackett and Suzanne Somers.

That takes me back.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:54 PM on June 20 [3 favorites]


Ruth Buzzi, Buddy Hackett, and Suzanne Somers! And the weird blaxploitation-muted-wah-wah / Sprechstimme breakdown by the chorus line! That couldn't have been any better, really.
posted by mubba at 6:57 PM on June 20


Jesus! Good thing I had "Sister Ray" on in the background when I clicked on that, otherwise I might have risked a serious overshmaltz.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:59 PM on June 20


What is Ruth Buzzi doing now anyway?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:11 PM on June 20


What is Ruth Buzzi doing now anyway?

Tweeting.
posted by mudpuppie at 7:12 PM on June 20 [4 favorites]


Hitting Arte Johnson with a purse, five times a day in Vegas.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:13 PM on June 20 [8 favorites]


Tweeting jokes leftover from 70s variety shows, I should have said.
posted by mudpuppie at 7:13 PM on June 20 [2 favorites]


ZenMasterThis: or Haitian Divorce, complete with "Caribbean" costumes.
posted by mubba at 7:14 PM on June 20 [2 favorites]


And the more I learn about Marie Osmond the more she sounds like a good person and the more I like her. Karawane jolifanto bambla o falli bambla, großiga m'pfa habla horem, you crazy diamond.

That Ripley's clip is amazing, even earning a mention in Greil Marcus's Lipstick Traces. Supposedly, they offered Marie Osmond cue cards for reading off that dadaist sound poetry, but she went full-on diva and recited it from memory, just because they believed she couldn't.
posted by jonp72 at 7:17 PM on June 20 [3 favorites]


I only watched it because they cancelled The Smothers Brothers and Laugh-In and I was waiting for The Sonny & Cher show to come on.

As to Hee Haw. Roy Clark is a really skilled musician. Buck Owens is no slouch either.

And here is Glenn Campbell and Roy Clark.
posted by vapidave at 7:18 PM on June 20 [9 favorites]


And here is Glenn Campbell and Roy Clark.

Imagining and picturing the hours they must have spent practicing that makes me very happy in a WOO GAY MARRIAGE kind of way.
posted by mudpuppie at 7:21 PM on June 20 [3 favorites]


Nobody was on drums in that Crazy Horses video?
posted by mazola at 7:32 PM on June 20 [2 favorites]


Oddly, those weird stills of their faces with the random effects around them before the actual show starts feel very current to me.
posted by GameDesignerBen at 7:32 PM on June 20


I would totally watch that whole show, but maybe replacing the audio track with Rattus Norvegicus by The Stranglers.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:45 PM on June 20 [3 favorites]


Oh god, Donny and the purple socks. My grade-school self was locked to the TV every week when they came on. My jr-high school self, was less impressed when we got to tour the Osmond studio at a summer theater camp, because by then I had moved on to Devo, The Ramones, etc. Donny regained his cool in my esteem with his dancing appearance in White and Nerdy.
posted by calamari kid at 7:53 PM on June 20 [3 favorites]


I had a crush on Marie. I would insist we watch Donny & Marie every week even though my parents, who were hip 20-somethings at the time with Todd Rundgren and Fleetwood Mac in their record collection fercryingoutloud, rolled their eyes and benevolently let me watch. I remember a sketch where Donnie & Marie turned into werewolves--and they thoughtfully included a topper after where the two of them were seen taking their werewolf makeup off and comedically complaining about, so that 5-year-old me wouldn't be frightened that they'd turned werewolf completely.

And then I saw the episode with Shields & Yarnell doing their "Robot People Having Breakfast" routine and it scared the hell out of me so much I couldn't watch anymore. So I went and fell in love with Donna Pescow starring in Angie. I had a lot of TV crushes before the age of 7.

But this clip shows she was definitely a little bit country and he was a little bit, uh, California sensimillia hot tub mellow...?
posted by Spatch at 7:53 PM on June 20 [3 favorites]


So I went and fell in love with Donna Pescow starring in Angie.

If you were a 7 year-old boy in the late 1970s, you always secretly wished to get the babysitter who looked like Donna Pescow and didn't wear a bra. Either that or Debralee Scott.
posted by jonp72 at 8:08 PM on June 20 [4 favorites]


I was born the day after this aired.
posted by BeerFilter at 8:09 PM on June 20 [4 favorites]


The Donnie and Marie Show frequently committed crimes against the pop music of the period

It makes me sad how many genuinely good songs I heard for the first time this way.
posted by straight at 8:11 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


the incredible thing is, the Osmonds are now defense consultants

No, I think that makes perfect sense. Now if you had said that, say, Skunk Baxter is now a defence consultant -- that would be a bit more surprising.
 
posted by Herodios at 8:15 PM on June 20 [4 favorites]


OK, revoke my cool-kid card but I actually liked their performance of this song. They both have great voices and harmonize really well (though maybe the subtleties of the lyrics are lost). Even the dancing is OK. It goes bad with the skaters, and WTF is the fascination with kick lines that everybody's got to applaud them?

My sister had a huge crush on Donny, so I vaguely remember that song Crazy Horses. Holy hell, the Osmonds channeling Nazareth is some kind of awesome.
posted by stargell at 8:15 PM on June 20 [2 favorites]


OK, the number of comments by people who watched this as children and then got into punk puts me in mind of Wigwam Bam, which is amazing (although you may have to read a significant portion of the Locas storyline from Love & Rockets to figure out what's going on).


Wigwam Bam
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:21 PM on June 20


Oh man, I loved Shields & Yarnell!! They were a HUGE part of my upbringing!
Which probably explains a lot about my sense of humor
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:23 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


Oh man, I loved Shields & Yarnell!! They were a HUGE part of my upbringing!

I worked in Robert Shields' jewelry production studio in Sedona, AZ for a while. He's an interesting person.
posted by hippybear at 8:27 PM on June 20


Not to mention the Banana Splits
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:27 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


Was everybody in the 70s insane?
posted by mazola at 8:29 PM on June 20 [7 favorites]


Yes, some in the bad way, others in the good way.
posted by hippybear at 8:30 PM on June 20 [8 favorites]


Was everybody in the 70s insane?

...sez the 2000's.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:34 PM on June 20 [4 favorites]


You know what's really sad? The song number isn't the worst part of this video -- it's the lame "comedy" patter after that.

It's genuinely terrible, but Donny's amusement at his sister's shrieking antics is pretty endearing.
posted by straight at 8:35 PM on June 20


I actually liked their performance of this song

Steely Dan covers do tend to be pretty awful, no matter how talented the musician or what their intentions. But Donny and Marie did keep me watching till the end; I have to give them that.
posted by mubba at 8:37 PM on June 20


Actually, the Osmonds song I, I, I, is actually pretty damned good. Not as rockin' as Crazy Horses, but it's pulsating, hypnotizing disco beat is hard to ignore...totally badass!
posted by Quasimike at 8:37 PM on June 20


Well now, Lady Gaga would have fit in very well in the 70s... only in the 2000s was that considered outrageous.

Someone somewhere posted this clip to explain why us olds weren't getting the fuss over Lady Gaga.
posted by maggiemaggie at 8:48 PM on June 20 [5 favorites]




This was recommended by somebody in a metafilter thread years ago:

Osmond Brothers Everybody's Everything / I Just Wanna Be Free Ohio State Fair 1972.
posted by bukvich at 10:19 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


Who here remembers the Osmonds cartoon?
Following the success of the Jackson 5 cartoon series, Rankin-Bass (Yes, the famous holiday cartoon/animagic company) sequels with The Osmonds. Without Marie present, the Osmond Brothers (including Jimmy) are goodwill ambassadors who go out into the world to spread their musical happiness.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:28 PM on June 20


Donnie and Marie Osmond: Country and Rock & Roll in homeopathic doses.
posted by straight at 10:34 PM on June 20 [5 favorites]


You all realize the Muppet Show was also a variety show, right? *ducks*
posted by benzenedream at 10:39 PM on June 20 [3 favorites]


ISTR there were more chickens than ducks.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:44 PM on June 20 [3 favorites]


What kinda look was Todd Rundgren going for there? The child of David Bowie and an owl? One of the bird men from Flash Gordon?
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 10:50 PM on June 20 [2 favorites]


Osmond Brothers Everybody's Everything / I Just Wanna Be Free Ohio State Fair 1972.

Oh my god! They're like a bunch of little Mormon Elvises!
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 10:52 PM on June 20 [2 favorites]


I honestly think they would have unblushingly covered Frankie Goes to Hollywood's Relax if it had been out by then. I mean if this is possible anything is.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:53 PM on June 20


God, the Osmonds and Hee-Haw. The waltons and MASH.

78 - I would have been in Mississippi, that was the year I got into a fight with my kidergarten teacher. He was stationed in Antarctica, and I could talk to him sometimes at the MARS station if atmospheric conditions were right. My teacher insisted that it was impossible, because there were no long distance lines there and anyway who could afford it ?

I don't remember this show in particular, but I do remember the Osmonds being a TV staple in our house.

You have to understand, it's wasn't just the Osmonds that were weird - you had HR Puffenstuff, and Captain Kangaroo and Sleestaks and Gilligans Island and...

It's very strange just how different things are today.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:04 PM on June 20 [3 favorites]


As I was watching Donny Osmond in that Crazy Horses video, it suddenly struck me - that's why Justin Bieber looked so familiar!!
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:14 PM on June 20


You all realize the Muppet Show was also a variety show, right? *ducks*

Variety shows in and of themselves are not bad. In fact, you could take the entire run of any of the 70s variety shows hosted by anyone and compile a pretty great selection of skits and interviews and musical numbers which would stand against the passage of time and be quite entertaining.

Like any form of television, there are highs and lows.

The Muppet Show was way more planned out and intricate than most variety shows, and at only 30 minutes an episode, it didn't have as much opportunity to suck as the hour-long shows that were the staple of that era.

But yes, The Muppet Show was a variety show.

So is The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

(I actually wish there were a modern revival of The Muppet Show. That would be freakin' AWESOME!)
posted by hippybear at 11:15 PM on June 20 [3 favorites]


It's maybe a shame Turn On was cancelled after one episode.
posted by PHINC at 11:16 PM on June 20


You have to understand, it's wasn't just the Osmonds that were weird - you had HR Puffenstuff, and Captain Kangaroo and Sleestaks and Gilligans Island and...

Or to get really obscure, how about "Hot Dog", with Jonathan Winters, Jo Ann Worley and, believe it or not, Woody Allen? Or "Curiosity Shop", a live action show created by Chuck Jones.

(I actually wish there were a modern revival of The Muppet Show. That would be freakin' AWESOME!)

Mmmm... The old Jay Ward cartoons were brilliant but that doesn't mean I want to see the new Peabody and Sherman movie.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:26 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]




The HR Puffenstuff jingle is my universal ear worm cure.

HR Puffenstuff jingle remover sold separately
posted by thelonius at 12:03 AM on June 21 [1 favorite]


Ok, I'm still trying to get past that Crazy Horses was an Osmond thing and that, shit, it fucking rocks. Close your eyes and listen. Bleached hair and a little makeup and a little less weird dancing and they might have been the Mormon New York Dolls.

I am disturb.

I will brook no mocking of H. R. Pufnstuf. There were only three commercial channels, three and a half if you lived near Canada and the weather was right. It's a miracle that was made.

A pic.
posted by vapidave at 12:09 AM on June 21 [1 favorite]


Oh my god that Crazy Horses video, especially the guitar solo. I don't have words.
posted by cj_ at 12:34 AM on June 21 [1 favorite]


I dunno, maybe it's because I was brought up on primetime variety shows and Lite FM, but I just find it hard to hate the Osmonds.

I mean, they're just so goddamn perky.

Unless they turn out to have been kidnapping people for some sort of Mormon Heaven's Gate in the desert, I'm just going to give them a pass.
posted by madajb at 1:26 AM on June 21 [1 favorite]


Also, variety shows and the like should definitely make a comeback.

Can't be any worse than America's Got a Voice, or whatever the hell it is.

Who is the modern day version of Charo, anyway?
posted by madajb at 1:30 AM on June 21


the incredible thing is, the Osmonds are now defense consultants

Someone has to pick the songs for the Guantanamo Bay speaker system.
posted by rough ashlar at 2:07 AM on June 21 [3 favorites]


OK I swear I'll shut up after this but Charo is a talented musician. I'm from Seattle so to the Guitar borrn and I tried loudly years and years to my neighbors dismay.

Charo is really good.
posted by vapidave at 2:15 AM on June 21 [4 favorites]


Some perspective: After a few successful experiments with intelligent, edgy programming in the 50s and early 60s ("The Phil Silvers Show"; "The Colgate Comedy Hour"), TV by the seventies had fallen into a rut. Network executives, attempting squeeze money out of mediocrity, had zeroed in on a formula best known by the moniker "the least common denominator." The theory went that TV--known in this era as "the boob tube"--was a mental pacifier. Instead of stimulating its audience, it should serve up bland, inoffensive fare that lulled its viewer into a haze, thereby preventing him or her from rising from the chair--remember, "clickers" (TV remotes) were owned by very few households back then--and turning the channel dial to a less offensive program. This theory was even codified into corporate strategy by a network or two back then, I believe.

Though a smattering of intelligent, highly lauded programs existed--mostly socially aware mini-series, such as "Roots," and imports from England like "Upstairs Downstairs"--TV was widely regarded as a wasteland of entertainment. People would complain about "the junk on TV," and parents would limit TV for their kids, on the theory that "it rots your brain." Much ink in the weekly news magazines was devoted to scathing critiques of TV as a medium.

In the late 1970s, the focus was on films, which still opened in grand movie palaces and drive-in theaters. Both art house films and blockbusters (a new term back then) provided the entertainment that TV lacked. In 1977, one year before the Donny and Marie video linked above, two movies garnered massive interest from critics and attention from the public before they opened. The first was "Cross of Iron," a violent (for its time) WWII movie from Sam Pekinpah.

The second was "Star Wars."
posted by Gordion Knott at 2:31 AM on June 21 [6 favorites]


I feel like I have found my people in this thread.
posted by JanetLand at 3:53 AM on June 21 [4 favorites]


Donny regained his cool in my esteem with his dancing appearance in White and Nerdy.

Dude, you got to let them see all of Donny's sweet moves.
posted by Meatbomb at 4:03 AM on June 21 [3 favorites]


You all realize the Muppet Show was also a variety show, right? *ducks*

It may have been a variety show with ducks, which makes all the difference. A lot of the grotesque excess and baffling celebrities of the seventies fit right in there. Put Paul Williams on The Mac Davis Show or The Sonny and Cher Hour or whatever, and he just looked weird. Have him serenading a felt pig wearing a half-dozen rings over opera gloves and then have the pig karate chop him at the end of the song, and he seemed more in place.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:07 AM on June 21 [3 favorites]


The HR Puffenstuff jingle is my universal ear worm cure.

I'll see you and raise you another Sid & Marty Krofft production.

Damn song doesn't have a natural "exit point".
posted by JaredSeth at 6:26 AM on June 21 [2 favorites]


What kinda look was Todd Rundgren going for there? The child of David Bowie and an owl? One of the bird men from Flash Gordon?

But that's just it, though: It wasn't just Todd Rundgren dressing like that. Glam, Funk, Prog, and Disco had all gone mainstream; that look is completely typical of any one of those genres. (And since Rundgren kind of straddled them all, there you go.) You'd be hard-pressed to find any clips from The Midnight Special that don't make you go, "What the fuck is that guy wearing???"
posted by Sys Rq at 8:18 AM on June 21 [1 favorite]


You'd be hard-pressed to find any clips from The Midnight Special that don't make you go, "What the fuck is that guy wearing???"

Starbuck performing Moonlight Feels Right circa 1976 on the Midnight Special. You gotta check out the dude performing the marimba solo starting at 1:50.

And I just have to add, no thread about 1970's variety shows is complete without a call out to Carol Burnett--the Queen of the 1970's variety hour.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 8:49 AM on June 21 [1 favorite]


Of course, the greatest variety show ever has to be "Europe's favorite variety show, now in America", Viva Variety
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:03 AM on June 21


I'll see you and raise yt you another Sid & Marty Krofft production.

Game ON
posted by thelonius at 9:11 AM on June 21


For those of you born in the late '60s or later, and were fortunate enough to be black, this is what counted for primetime entertainment back in our day.


I think I can speak for African-Americans everywhere when I say, we have no cotton-pickin' idea what the hell kinda crazy happened to white America during the '70s, but we're pretty sure that cocaine was involved.
posted by magstheaxe at 9:35 AM on June 21 [7 favorites]


Marie Osmond explains Dada and recites Hugo Ball’s Karawane.

I thought that was totally awesome until I started wondering when it was produced. Then I realized she was probably talking about it because of The Talking Heads performance of a Hugo Ball poem in their song I Zimbra.

Pop culture and music of the 1970s was so saccharine and horrible, I felt trapped in a nightmare and was desperate for any alternative. The Punk genre was created with that crap as a background. I often quote a comparison of the Top 10 Singles for the US vs UK published in the NME in 1979, I previously published an essay on MeFi with a download link but it died and I will repost it now (warning 35Mb PDF but it's worth the download).

From the New Musical Express, 13 October 1979

UK Top 10 Singles
1. Message In A Bottle, Police
2. Dreaming, Blondie
3. Don't Stop Til You Get Enough, Michael Jackson
4. Video Killed The Radio Star, Buggles
5. Live On Stage, Kate Bush
6. What Ever You Want, Status Quo
7. Cars, Gary Numan
8. If I Said You Had A Beautiful, Bellamy Brothers
9. Since You've Been Gone, Rainbow

US Top 10 Singles
1. Don't Stop Til You Get Enough, Michael Jackson
2. Sail On, Commodores
3. Sad Eyes, Robert John
4. Rise, Herb Alpert
5. My Sharona, The Knack
6. Pop Muzik, M
7. I'll Never Love This Way Again, Dionne Warwick
8. Lonesome Loser, Little River Band
9. Dim The Lights, Donna Summer
10. Heaven Must Have Sent You, Bonnie Pointer
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:39 AM on June 21


The thing about variety shows....Back In The Day, there were only three TV channels to choose from (four if you counted PBS). And not every household had three TV sets so that every family member could go off and watch their preferred programming. On some nights your choice was a medical drama, a police show, or a variety show. The networks tried to provide a "something for everyone" to attract viewers (three police shows on at the same time would split the audience too much). In democratic households it was majority rule; it a lot of homes it was a case of Dad Pays The Bills So He Gets to Choose What We Watch When He Gets Home At Night.

Osmonds-wise, I was about sixth grade age when "Yo-Yo" and "Down by the Lazy River" were hits, and I bought the 45s. All these years later, I still enjoy listening to those songs, whether it's because they're catchy pop songs or because it mentally takes me back to the halcyon days of my youth, I dunno.
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:20 AM on June 21 [1 favorite]


I am so glad I was born in 1970. Had I missed this era of TV insanity I would not be the person I am today.

In other news: Russell Brand looks exactly like Donnie Osmond, right? I can't be the only person who sees this?
posted by tristeza at 11:26 AM on June 21 [2 favorites]


Fuck you, Charlie Don't Surf! Fucking 30+ years go by unsullied, and NOW you fucking earworm me with Robert John? I FUCKING LISTENED TO THAT SHIT THE FIRST TIME! I HAD THE SINGLE ON THE GODDAMN K-TEL COMPILATION ALBUM!

Palate cleanser.

posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 11:41 AM on June 21 [3 favorites]


I hadn't heard Richie Blackmore's Rainbow in years. Thanks, PBZM.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:08 PM on June 21 [1 favorite]


Game ON

I'm sorry, but playing the Banana Splits theme without wacky "boing!" noises, bicycle horn honks, and Paul Winchell chuckling, "The Banana Splits presents ... The Banana Splits!" is so wrong, you might as well have Donnie and Marie Osmond cover it.
posted by straight at 12:09 PM on June 21


And I just have to add, no thread about 1970's variety shows is complete without a call out to Carol Burnett--the Queen of the 1970's variety hour.

Seriously, they need to mint a one-off Congressional Medal of Honor in the Entertainment category and confer it on Carol Burnett. She's a damn national treasure and it's bizarre that we've practically forgotten her. I suspect one of the reasons she was popular is that her humor uniquely appealed to both the old-fashioned, almost vaudevillian skool, and was (I'm guessing -- way too young) even funnier if you were stoned out of your gourd.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:11 PM on June 21 [4 favorites]


Seriously, they need to mint a one-off Congressional Medal of Honor in the Entertainment category and confer it on Carol Burnett.

Well, Carol Burnett did get the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2013, which is just about as close to what you're talking about as possible.
posted by hippybear at 12:21 PM on June 21 [1 favorite]


The disjunct between the Osmonds' all-showbiz performance (with ice dancers) and the deeply sardonic Becker/Fagan lyrics is enormous. They went to all the trouble of learning them, and didn't wonder what they meant.

On the other hand, the footage of Marie reciting the Hugo Ball poem is strangely erotic for some reason.
posted by Grangousier at 12:23 PM on June 21


I hadn't heard Richie Blackmore's Rainbow in years. Thanks, PBZM.

Now I am traumatized. I haven't heard that shit in 30+ years. I had annoying friends who played their albums incessantly. So I got even with them by playing them Deaf School constantly.
posted by charlie don't surf at 12:53 PM on June 21 [1 favorite]


The HR Puffenstuff jingle is my universal ear worm cure.

I really find the music from H.R Pufnstuf to be pretty outstanding in general. It's definitely more sophisticated than you would think if you're just watching the show.

I still own the Kellogg's mail-in premium 7" vinyl soundtrack album that I got in 1969. I was happy to find a very clean copy of it available online, so now I also have it on my iPod.

1) H.R. Pufnstuf (theme song) [this is different from what they used in the TV show]
2) When We Woke Up This Morning
3) Mechanical Boy
4) How Lucky I Am
5) I'm So Happy To Be Here
6) Oranges Smoranges
7) Pronouns
8) Ice Cold Lemonade
9) A Bucket Of Sunshine
10) End Of The Road
11) H.R. Pufnstuf reprise
posted by hippybear at 1:16 PM on June 21 [2 favorites]


the incredible thing is, the Osmonds are now defense consultants

Fits right in; back then they a bulwark defending the US from those scary hippies and 'experimental' music. Just like Frankie Avalon and Fabian defended the US from R'n'R back in the early 60s.

For the older set the defense was Lawrence Welk.
posted by Twang at 1:31 PM on June 21 [1 favorite]


The Credibility Gap, which included the future Lenny & Squiggy as well as two-thirds of the core membership of Spinal Tap, did a spot-on Osmonds parody with Foreign Novelty Smash.
posted by jonp72 at 1:39 PM on June 21 [2 favorites]


Now I am traumatized. I haven't heard that shit in 30+ years...

&ltSergio_Leone>

[FINGERS THE SEARCH BUTTONS...]

Your move...

;-)
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 1:55 PM on June 21


Marie Osmond explains Dada and recites Hugo Ball’s Karawane…

That has been my alarm clock sound for years, since whenever it was first brought up here.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:57 PM on June 21 [2 favorites]


Just to be clear, that was a totally non-sarcastic thank-you. I've been humming Since You've Been Gone all afternoon. Keep lobbing stuff at each other — I can thrive on all sorts of music.

/Prays they don't resort to Seasons In The Sun, which is against the Geneva Convention anyways.
posted by benito.strauss at 3:57 PM on June 21 [1 favorite]


FYI: you can stop earworms by mentally singing a short, familiar song to its completion. The theory is that finishing one looping song will shut down all the other loops. I suggest you use the Happy Birthday song and hammer on the final note.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:09 PM on June 21 [3 favorites]


Pop culture and music of the 1970s was so saccharine and horrible, I felt trapped in a nightmare and was desperate for any alternative.

I felt the same seething discontent at that time, when we were all waiting for something like punk to happen and shake things up. But now that I look back in retrospect, some aspects of the pop culture of the 1970's seem more interesting then I thought at the time.

One thing for sure, mentioned in Mefi comments from time to time, is that 1970's AM top 40 radio was stylistically more diverse than the mega pop media today. Lots of saccharine marmalade burbling over the top layer for sure, but also plenty of flukes and random weirdness poking through from time to time.

This trickled into the Variety Shows, like 'The Carol Burnett Show', for example. 90% of it was fairly predictable mainstream entertainment, but with a dash of strange and intense stuff happening sporadically, like a random skit about the signing of the treaty after the 1903 Russo-Japanese War (note: am not making this up.) And of course, often derided sitcoms like 'The Beverly Hillbillies' and 'Green Acres' were thickly interwoven with interesting elements of zen absurdity.
posted by ovvl at 5:18 PM on June 21 [1 favorite]


And of course, often derided sitcoms like 'The Beverly Hillbillies' and 'Green Acres' were thickly interwoven with interesting elements of zen absurdity.

Green Acres is a brilliant work, a deep immersion in zen absurdity. It's also incredibly stupid and easy to watch. It's easy to dismiss until you really start analyzing what is taking place within that universe. But once you start to unpack it, it turns into something else entirely.

I'm sure it wasn't intended as such by the writers, but wow.
posted by hippybear at 5:22 PM on June 21 [2 favorites]


I suspect this thread's analysis and selective fondness are only possible in hindsight, after our perspectives have been broadened by distance and the awareness of what has come since. Maybe it's just me, but at the time it felt like we were drowning in dreck, inundated to the point of detesting all of it and unable to appreciate what few bits we in retrospect find extraordinary. As usual nostalgia lends an enhancing glow to what was, on the whole, swill when it was being lived through firsthand.
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:59 PM on June 21


These links are bringing back many happy memories, sitting in front of the black and white tv. I was 12 at the time and I must have watched that episode of Donny and Marie, but somehow the dark subversion in this number went right over my wee head.

I picked up on the Billy Joe joke in this skit just now.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:13 PM on June 21


In 1978 I was 12 and I don't think I ever missed an episode of Donny and Marie.

Marie made me feel all tingly.
posted by Bonzai at 8:41 PM on June 21 [1 favorite]


Two of my favourite things at the same time - Reeling in the Years and DONNY!

Donny was my teen idol in 1973-4 (and, I believed, my Future Husband. As he's a Mormon, all of us Osmond fans at school were convinced we could all marry him). But we didn't get the Donny & Marie Show in the UK. I think it was a bit too American for UK audiences, and by 1978 I'd moved on anyway and was working for a punk music paper in London where I didn't dare mention my love for Donny.

But I still carried a torch for Donny over the next 40 years and when we were in Vegas last year I bartered with jason's_planet that if he came with me to see Donny & Marie at The Flamingo, I'd do the zipline ride down Fremont Street. I think it's fair to say that my part of the bargain was the better, as the zipline lasted for 30 seconds, rather than the 2 hours jason's_planet had to sit through the show. I think he secretly enjoyed it though.

The years have been kind to Donny. He's grown into those teeth, he looks great and he has a sense of irony about the Donny & Marie Show and how cheesy it was. Marie's voice was incredible. She sang everything from pop to rock to blues to Broadway standards to opera and every note was perfect.

But I hadn't come to see her, oh no. I was there to fulfil the dream I had when I was 14 to be in the presence of My Future Husband. I wanted to ask him if he'd received my letter in 1973, and if so, why had he married that other bitch? I even screamed at the part in 'Puppy Love' when he sings "Someone help me, help me, help me, help me, pleeeeaaaase..."

It was, I admit without shame, one of the best nights of my life.
posted by essexjan at 11:12 PM on June 21 [10 favorites]


Not sure whether or not to post this here or to the Star Wars thread.
posted by mazola at 12:36 AM on June 22


Back In The Day, there were only three TV channels to choose from

Well, we also had Channel 17, WTBS, Ted Turner's station, which later became The Superstation, The Home of The Braves. I can't imagine childhood without it: Addams Family and Gilligan's Island and Get Smart reruns, horror movies on Friday nights. Also Green Acres reruns of course. That show was just deeply mystifying to me as a child. On weekends they'd show serious movies, too: I think it's where I first saw "Spartacus".
posted by thelonius at 4:11 AM on June 22


I love having an occasional thread like this one that reminds me that not everyone on MeFi is a bright-eyed twentysomething with only a vague recollection of pre-internet life and no recollection at all of big dumb console TVs with a whopping six channels you could flip through, and then only if you got up and walked across the room.

(This isn't a my generation is awesome and theirs is awful rant. Just a thought about how reassuring it is to be reminded that my section of the MeFi demo isn't as sparsely populated as it sometimes feels.)
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:40 AM on June 22 [5 favorites]


You've never known true teen pain unless you were a teenager in the early 70s and you had to sit with parents AND grandparents for a back to back viewing of Hee Haw/Lawrence Welk. Me, my brother, and cousins were forced to walk down that road far too many times. My mother should have never wondered why we listened to so much Zeppelin, the Who, Sabbath, etc...

"Crazy Horses" was seen by most my age as a minstrel show attempt at hard rock. It never got much airplay and c'mon, they're still wearing "outfits". The only groups allowed to wear matching outfits and retained a modicum of cool were the R&B vocal acts like the Stylistics. Your average early 70s teen upon seeing this video on TV would go to their room and see a poster of Mick n' Keef looking absolutely nothing like that. Osmonds were for preteens only. The typical white teenage girls back then were lighting candles and playing James Taylor, Cat Stevens, etc. Nope, admitting a like for the Osmonds was right up there with having short hair, being part of the audio/video club, or being on the trampoline team.

I can see watching Donny/Marie when you're a preteen in the day and finding it perfectly acceptable. You'd have little context for the songs and the musical delights of the world were still one step beyond you. As far as anyone in their teens and twenties, the only variety show you'd watch sober/straight was Carol Burnett because the skits sometimes were and still can be funnier than hell. Even if you'd have to suffer through the music and dance numbers, watching Conway destroy Korman was always golden.
posted by Ber at 12:33 PM on June 22 [1 favorite]


I think I had the Donny & Marie Barbie too. I Know I had the paper dolls.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:43 PM on June 22


Luckily, I was living in a yoga ashram but the time the '70s came along and missed them entirely.
posted by chance at 7:40 AM on June 23


I think that's the best version of "Is this something I'd need to have a kāma to understand?" I've heard yet.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:08 AM on June 23 [1 favorite]


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