I once was asked to think of an idea for a monument for the city of Los Angeles. The last thing I thought LA needed was a big metal something that would fall down in an earthquake. I suggested a television station that would run every episode of Chips continuously. It would be the Chips Channel. The idea was oddly rejected.
I don't know why, but I record Chips on my Tivo and watch it daily. I also watch The Donna Reed Show but that's just a weird Pleasantville thing. Yes, Chips has remarkably thin plots and everything is solved in the last 3 minutes, but there are car chases that end with explosions and cars on their side in every episode. That doesn't happen every day in real life here. To get a car on its side and blow up requires a ramp and explosives. There is something kind of great about it.
I love how horrible Los Angeles looks on Chips. If you don't live here, you probably are saying, "Doesn't it still?" But in the 1970s on Chips the smog was far worse, there were endless streets of odd stores and car washes, and really crappy cars blowing up. It looks so bleak and desolate filled with empty freeways and the blazing white sun.
The other surprising elements are the pants and hair. Everyone has pants that are way too tight. I remember having pants like that myself in high school. I was also desperate for groovy hair that parted in the middle, but mine was wavy, thick, parted on the side, and grew out like Sideshow Bob.
There is groovy hair, such as Julie Christie in Shampoo, then there is groovier hair, Angie Dickinson in Police Woman. She is the hippest police detective ever. Since it was 1974, Police Woman was required to have "Woman" in the title. "Police" just sounded dull. There was no spin-off, "Police Man" as in the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman. If there had been, it would probably be Barnaby Jones. Buddy Ebsen at 95 was far less active, however, than Angie Dickinson.
The lesson here is this: add "Woman" to any show title, Six Feet Under a Woman, Star Trek Woman, Love Boat Woman, Lost Woman. It makes a more interesting concept. And, when you only have live action footage to work with when creating a title sequence, use freeze frames, fast zoom shots, and details of things like legs.
We’ve been down this path before. On a previous post, I discussed the reasons why Hawaii 5-0 kicked Magnum P.I.’s ass. You won’t see that on DesignObserver. Now, we face the issue of the classic Hawaii 5-0 and the new Hawaii 5-0. The old 5-0 had a better title sequence, but was basically Adam-12 in Hawaii. It was the show you watched when you stayed at your grandparents’ house, and they never changed the channel away from CBS. The new 5-0 has a title sequence that’s more ‘techno” and action packed, but lacks the finesse of the old one. The new 5-0, however, is more exciting. Or perhaps I’m now old, like my grandparents and don’t get out often.
The only thing I can’t understand is why the governor of Hawaii seems to operate like the chief of police. It seems that the governor is trampling on the police force’s territory. I’d be concerned that she was not paying attention to legislative issues, but sitting by the police radio listening for some action. It also seems to send the message that you will immediately be caught in cross-fire or kidnapped if you’re a tourist in Honolulu.
As an elderly shut-in, I never stay up late enough to watch Saturday Night Live. When I stay at my grandparents’ house, the only thing to watch is old VHS cassettes of The Lawrence Welk Show. Noreen showed me a wonderful combination of the two today that needed to be shared. If only my grandparents were still alive, we could switch their tapes with these.
One of the worst aspects of Tivo is that you don't have it when you travel. I hate sitting in a hotel room, missing what someone said, and I can't go back. And I'm forced to watch whatever is on the 15 stations they receive. It seems that CSI is on most of the channels all the time. Sitting in a hotel room on my last trip, I found myself mesmerized by The Lawrence Welk Show. Now you know I have some Lawrence Welk records which are very relaxing, but, even as wholesome as I am, I can't really watch it. But the colors are miraculous. Originally, this post was going to be about just that, the color palette on The Lawrence Welk Show.
In my research, however, I discovered three video clips that needed to be seen by all. The Love Boat theme dance number is something you will never get out of your head. Tokin', really? Did they know they were promoting marijuana usage? And the Velvet Underground does make for a nice change of pace.
I can take cute, or sweet, or even saccharine, but this goes over that line. This seems to be the result of entertainers after a Frances Farmer lobotomy. It's all so nice and measured. Somebody backstage must have snapped at some point. I like to imagine a plastic fork from the craft services table being shaped into a prison shiv, and then the brutal attack like a scene from Oz. This is the only way to watch The Lawrence Welk Show without believing that it is the evidence that Satan has returned and is disguised.
Every once in awhile, I’ll mention the children’s show, Lidsville, which ran from 1971-1973. I’ve never met anyone who remembers it. When I describe it, they look at me like I’m high. Lidsville was a Sid and Mary Krofft show, joining the reality based H.R. Pufnstuf, and The Bugaloos. The plot involved a teenager who wanders into a giant hat (yes, it’s odd) and falls into a land filled with living hats. The hat people also lived in hats. Too add to the bizarre story, Charles Nelson Reilly was the villain — not Charles Nelson Reilly the person, but the character he played. I think Lidsville was slang for the marijuana term “lid.” Why this was aimed at pre-teens is beyond me.
I recall watching Lidsville, very concerned that the main character, Mark, wouldn't get home. I didn’t question the symbolism or meaning of the hat world. It seemed perfectly sane. In the end Mark didn’t escape Lidsville and return to the normal world. I thought about this quite a bit growing up. It was like Gilligan’s Island before they were rescued in the tragic sequels. These loose ends, these lost souls, damaged my generation and caused severe emotional trauma.
Today, Fess Parker passed away. He's better known to everyone as Davy Crockett. Everyone on the planet knows the song (or you're from Venus) Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier. I had a coonskin cap, my brother had one, my 10 year old nephew, Chance, has one. Even though I've never seen an episode of the television show, I have an idea that Davy Crockett was brave and noble, and a good role model. Fess Parker made him real, and not a cartoon. I'd suggest that everyone find their coonskin cap and wear it tomorrow in honor of Parker, but I doubt clients would understand. Many thanks Fess Parker.
You might find this hard to believe, but I love Gidget. Here’s the quick synopsis: Gidget wants to learn to surf, but girls don’t surf so nobody will teach her. She persists and finally becomes part of the gang. She’s not busty, blonde and tall like the other women on the beach, so the boys think of her as their kid sister. All types of high-jinx occur as Gidget navigates the wacky world of high-school, Southern California, and surfing. There was a movie with Sandra Dee, and then the TV show with Sally Field.
I’m not so keen on the Sandra Dee Gidget. There’s something wrong with her; she’s just too perky. I suspect amphetamines. If she were my child, I’d send her to rehab in Malibu. Sally Field, however, has the right amount of cute with less frenetic nervous energy. She has a snappy style, is nice, and tries really hard to be a good surfer. I love the fake surfing scenes and her best friend LaRue is a wonderful sidekick. Gidget already has learned that you should hang out with someone less attractive and dowdy and you’ll look better. The title sequence must have cost 49 cents, and stole the type from I Dream of Jeannie. But how can you not love Gidget’s cute facial expressions and costume choices? For those who aren’t Gidget aficionados, Gidget is a mix of Girl and Midget, hence Gidget.
I’m willing to suspend disbelief for most television. I’m fairly certain that everyone on Gray’s Anatomy would be sued for sexual harassment in real life, and it’s clear that anyone visiting Jessica Fletcher on Murder She Wrote would be killed. Everyone she came into contact with ended up dead. Seems to me that she should be the prime suspect. I couldn’t suspend that disbelief for Space 1999. Even at 11, I watched it and would say, “Yeah right. You’ve got to be kidding.” The basic plot is that a nuclear waste explosion on the lunar surface lodges the moon out of orbit and sends it hurtling through space. The hapless crew of Moonbase Alpha is forced to go along for the ride. The moon is racing along so fast that they pass through distant planetary systems and visit scantily clad aliens.
On the upside, the design of the show was super groovy and mod. Everyone had matching leisure suit uniforms in beige. The furniture was high gloss molded plastic. The typography, Countdown, was the future of all type. I can’t see myself watching an entire episode. The whole moon leaving orbit and flying faster than light speed is too much for me to accept. But I’m digging the leisure suits.