I'm pleased to announce the resurrection of an old friend.
Okay, that's not my old friend, that's Sam Donaldson as a hippie. I'm getting ahead of myself. HERE'S the old friend I resurrected:
My OLD YELLER
TAPE! Recorded off a local station before it was bought by Fox,
this was one of my "kid plays it every single day and drives
you insane" tapes. There was a video of "That Darn
Cat" taped off the Disney Channel that I played even more
than this, and they both were of the extremely cheap brand
"MASTER", which was probably bought out by a paper clip
company in 1991. The sad thing about it is, "That Darn
Cat" eventually turned feral and destroyed every VCR I tried
to put it in, and it was much the same with "Old
Yeller"...and while I threw out That Darn Cat, I held on to
Yeller based on some outside hope that one day it would NOT cost
me another $80 for a VCR if I tried to play it. Recently, I dared
to try it again on an older VCR...and sonofagun, it played
properly. I hastily ran for the dubbing cables and started making
myself a fresh copy, then sat down to watch.
Memories of both the movie and the commercials started flooding back, most mentionably the ad for Morton Downey Jr's talk show which I was actually afraid of and would run to hide every time it came on. I had seen the dog die, lots of times, and I never shed a tear...yeah, I was tough like that. I rarely played the entire movie, however. Usually I'd just play it until my Handi-Snacks went empty and then I'd go run somewhere else.
I had never played this tape in its entirety, and now I was beginning to ponder if this was originally a tape of a different film...meaning once the recording stopped, the blue screen might blip over to something else within 30 seconds.
Indeed, it did just that...and apparently Mom had used it before to tape something else, then left it on all night. Uh-oh.
As the tape went back to a picture, the 11'o clock news was ending. I was about to see what I never could; what was on when I was asleep...I was about to venture into 1980'S LATE-NIGHT TELEVISION. And now, so are YOU. Scared? You will be.......
"DO A LITTLE DANCE....AT THE COM-MED-DY CLUB, GONNA HAVE A PARTY!!!" It was by no means what I expected in my head, but it was just as weird. George Schlatter is the man at the controls at the bottom of the screen. He also frequently puts on plastic "nose-mustache glasses" and waves around a rubber chicken. His last name is pronounced like "slaughter," which is appropriate.
About eight strange comedians shared the show, and their acts were nothing close to funny--they basically all went like, "HEY, YA EVER NOTICE HOW SOME PEOPLE GO LIKE THIS? BLAAEHAAH!! BLEHAGAGHAIAHAGHAAA!!! BLLAIEEIHAAIEIEIEYAAAA!!!!" Mitch Shaurer, the guy with the mullet, contributed this one: "Now, men go on dates, but they're afraid of the "C" word, by that I mean committment. They know if they actually get married, they might see someone better down the road, and then they'd be like, 'AW!! I COULDA GONE WITH HER! INSTEAD I'M STUCK WITH YOU!' Women take a different approach...they can be fine with their first choice, but they shop for men like one would shop for a used car. They think, "...Hmm. I can fix that...." Okay...point taken. I know all that. So what's the joke now?
Bruce Mahler showed up in the second act, the amazing prop comic whose props are live birds. Or dead birds, like the cooked chicken he put on puppet strings and made dance to various opera tunes. I'm not even going to tell you what he did with the parrot, except to say he followed it up with "Don't try that at home, folks, you might get chirpies. It's a canarial disease but it's tweetable." The lynch mob that appeared afterwards must have been edited out.
|Well, it's been ten minutes and this thing lasts a half-hour, and I can't stand being subjected to this torture any longer, so I'm going to fast-forward through it. To compensate for the space, I'll instead show you the commercials that ran during this thing. Hold your mouse over each picture for comments.|
|"This is KATU, serving the Portland Metropolitan Area." Well, that's over with, here comes the next late-night program. And based on what I just saw, it could be anything....|
|The GRAMMY AWARDS, however, was a surprise completely out of left field. What kind of logic is this? How can the Grammys come on at 12:30 at night following something like what I just saw?|
|Madonna and Sean Penn arrived on the red carpet, yet they looked...different somehow. Then Michael Jackson showed up fresh from a gig in the Middle East, on camelback. And...WHAT is wrong with THAT CAMEL???|
Barbara Walters asked him what he planned to do after the Grammys were over. He, and about eleven other people beside him, shouted "WE'RE GOING TO D.C. FOLLIES!!!" Then saxophone music kicked in, an introduction blatantly ripping off Saturday Night Live began, and it became all too clear what this was....
It was the American ripoff of Britain's "Spitting Image," D.C. FOLLIES!! Put together by Sid and Marty Krofft of H.R. Pufnstuf fame, who normally would steer clear of political commentary. I can't believe all this stuff was on my Old Yeller tape. You've never heard of D.C. Follies because it tanked fairly quickly...the name alone made everyone avoid it. "Spitting Image" was a clever name for a puppet show that slammed celebrities and British politics, but they called the American version "D.C. Follies"? By the way, the remark the puppets made about wanting to go to D.C. Follies refers to the fact that the entire show is set inside a Washington DC bar, which happens to be named "D.C. Follies." They named a bar this? Who would name a bar that??
|Fred Willard plays the
bartender, and Steve Allen plays the only other non-latex
human in the room. So who's the first guy they talk to?
Why, it's Ed Meese! I don't really remember him, but from what I've read, wow. People complain about Lieberman and Ashcroft, but trust me, those guys are nothing compared to the conservative radioactive blob that was Ed Meese. Here he is at the jukebox trying to make sure all the songs are clean. I believe the real Meese is actually doing this somewhere as we speak.
|As would be expected, Nixon provides 50% of the comedy in the program. Once the camera went on him, he spent the next five minutes elaborately explaining how the real culprit behind Watergate was John Lennon. "And then when Rocky Raccoon, burst into his room, only to find Gideon's bible, what do you think John was planning when he wrote that??" Maybe Nixon should have used his puppet when he appeared publicly... puppets can't profusely sweat. Of course, the biggest question on my mind was, WHERE'S REAGAN?|
|There he is. He's almost an afterthought since by this time the election to replace him was on everyone's mind, but he managed to appear onscreen for a few seconds anyway. He and his SS agents are discussing what secret code name they should call him next. This brings Willard and Allen into a discussion on what each of the candidates might call themselves if they became President. The bit's not very funny or effective and many of the shots are too cheap. Not very much of this episode is funny(at least in places they intended), and it's got a laugh track to make things worse.|
|But you ain't seen nothing yet. Fred sits at a table with "ABC anchorman Sam Donaldson" and "Bette Midler" and they reminisce about the 1960's. The screen then dissolves to a Woodstock-like stage area with many zonked-out puppets laying about on the grass. Fred is playing a spacey tune on his electric guitar....|
...and in steps Sam Donaldson as a hippie, who then starts playing a song on his own. Now, this might be funny if it were 10 seconds long, but they drag it out about 7 minutes or longer. There's a commercial break and then the show comes back and they're STILL doing this bit. The song that Donaldson warbles out is even longer than "American Pie" and makes even little sense; in fact, I don't think I understand what anyone is talking about at any point in this entire scene. What a mess.
|When they finally, finally get back to the bar, Bette is so freaked out over the story that she's hyperventilating. Fred throws a comforting arm around and says, "I know, Bette, but the sixties made us all a little nuts." I wonder what I would have thought of this if I had snuck out of bed one night and turned it on. "What did they do to Sesame Street?" would have probably been my reaction.|
|One more closing
statement from Barbra Streisand and the show's over. And
then....that's all, ran out of tape.
What a shame; it seems too soon for it all to end. I know how wrong this stuff was, but if something's bad enough, it usually MST3K's its way around to being good again. This was certainly one of those things. The next time I want to watch Old Yeller, there's no way I can consider it complete unless I watch this junk again as well. It's just too amusing that it's there.
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