Season 2 – Episode 6
It’s time for yet another holiday movie! This time it’s 1986’s fantastical action packed movie, Cobra!
Stallone in his hayday! Nielson at her hottest! Col 50’s car chases….Christmas movie? YUP!
Read More »
Bing Crosby. BIG Bing Crosby. The amiable, impish face and the posture of the Penguin from Batman. Actually, I wonder if Burgess Meredith thought of dear old Bing when he was waddling about, thrusting umbrellas and rocking his monocle and top hat. Maybe a little bit on the Bing, a little bit on Mr. Peanut? Who knows? I know of Bing Crosby from the classics – “White Christmas”, “Going My Way”, “The Bells of St. Mary’s”, The “Road” movies with Bob Hope.
Tacoma’s favorite son is still working to this day, despite being dead for over 35 years. He appears in television commercials, radio spots, dramatic and reality-based programming. I wonder how he cashes his checks. Talk about Bing Crosby to somebody from what Tom Brokaw coined, “The Greatest Generation” and it’s like you’re talking about God, and while the Big Guy could probably croon with the best of ‘em, I seriously doubt he could hold a candle to Bing.
Yes, Bing made the ladies swoon. Maybe some of the men too. I remember an old Warner Brothers cartoon with some hens falling over themselves listening to an animated version of Crosby all decked out as a rooster, but then there was another crooner competing for the attention, and this one looked like Frankie (as much as a rooster could resemble Frankie, that is). Next thing you know the crooning roosters are trading fours.
These guys were the Elvises of their day. They could make a girl crazy just by hitting a note. My guess was it didn’t take that much to impress girls back in those times. In the race to woo the ladies, Ol’ Blue Eyes eventually overtook Crosby, but the legacy remained intact. Crosby’s recording of White Christmas is the best-selling single of all time with 50 million copies sold since 1942; more than Elvis Presley, The Beatles, and Michael Jackson ever sold.
The David Bowie/Bing Crosby “Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth” duet still gets airplay on the radio stations as part of their nonstop Christmas song pukefests, as does the music video taken from the 1977 Bing Crosby Christmas Special, Merrie Olde Christmas. Nothing can prepare you for the delightfully baroque image of androgynous rocker Bowie kickin’ it with Bing.
We’re treated to Twiggy, internationally recognized singer/supermodel best known these days for her turn in 1980’s “The Blues Brothers”, but she doesn’t hold a candle to pretty Mary Crosby (before she shot J.R. on Dallas or wooed Robert Urich in “Ice Pirates”). Bing and Twiggy go all folie à deux and meet Charles Dickens. Twiggy imagines herself as Tiny Tim, very weird. Inexplicably, David Bowie pops up again to sing “Heroes”, making out with himself against a black background – ah, the seventies!
Stanley Baxter troubles me. If not for the fact that he plays a handful of ancillary characters, then it’s because he’s trying to do a Bob Hope impersonation and failing. Later in the show, he shows up, dressed as a court jester. I was reminded of Woody Allen’s character in “Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex…”. For the record, Woody does a much better impression of Bob Hope. Hope is conspicuously absent from the show, and his absence is sorely missed.
The final kicker to the whole mad affair is the fact that as of the show’s airtime and broadcast, Bing Crosby was dead and buried, in the ground and rotting. To close the show, he sings his signature song once again, and I am reminded of James Joyce.
“Snow is falling. Falling in that lonely churchyard where Bing Crosby lies buried. Falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living, and the dead.”
Merry Christmas, Everybody!Read More »
Season 2 – Episode 5
Bing Crosby Merrie Olde Christmas (1977)
Christopher Hasler: After the exuberant, life-affirming, Christmas-is-here holiday cheer provided by the Osmond family on our last episode, the BING CROSBY MERRIE OLDE CHRISTMAS simply sucked every ounce of life and good cheer from your estimable VHS Rewind hosts. We thought the mix of the Christmas season with Bing (Mr. White Christmas himself) Crosby would yield at leats an hour of perfectly pleasant Christmas carols (if nothing else) but Bing and his producers throw us a curve by not only giving us a Christmas special that is devoid of any Christmas spirit but by having Bing and his talent-less family pack their bags and go to England for the duration of the program(!)…we are treated not to the kind of kitsch that was a hallmark of the Osmond special but some rather dry, droll (veddy veddy droll) british humor(!)…Bing not only has a conversation with (the ghost of) Charles Dickens but Twiggy (yes, Twiggy) has an extended musical number where she essays a few of Dickens’ better known characters…an excruciating 50 minute program is enlivened by a few small (very few, very small) bits including an appearance by David Bowie, some hilarious jibes at former Crosby partner Bob Hope, terrible line readings by the Crosby family members, a few pleasantly sung christmas carols…Bing filmed this program in Sept 1977 and was dead by the time this puppy aired in November 1977…it damned near killed us at VHS Rewind…
Read More »
“I think the Native Americans are AS American as John and Ethel Barrymore and Donny and Marie Osmond…”
Bill Murray, “Tootsie”
Now this is something you don’t really see anymore in television: the variety special, the Osmonds, Donny and Marie, Paul Lynde as Santa Claus with a bubbly, pony-tailed, candy cane-fellating Marie Osmond sitting on his knee. You feel safe with Paul Lynde. You don’t feel like he’s going to do something we’ll all regret later. Paul Lynde makes me laugh. His quirks, his appeal; his Seventies Version of Gay (S.V.G. for short), up there with Charles Nelson Reilly or Liberace.
The Osmond family gathers in the snow-covered mountains of Utah. At one point, Jimmy is separated from the rest of the family so he can sing a song about Jesus. Donny and Marie Osmond are a force for good. They come to save us. They shoot each other strange glances. When Marie Osmond makes eye contact, the result is devastating. Donnie quakes in his L.L. Bean survival boots.
This show is a lot of fun to watch. There’s an innocence about all this, and even though jokes can be made, they’re only made from a nostalgic, sarcastic, contemporary place. For that is the future we have wrought! A future where Donny and Marie Osmond can no longer exist. There is hope. You can go to Las Vegas and see the raven-haired siblings perform. She’s a “little bit country” and he’s a “little bit rock n’ roll” and nobody can stop their song. Nobody!
Imagine a world without Osmonds, a world without Soldiers of Love spewing sacred emotion all over the Wasatch Mountain Range, bringing tidings of great joy and the Mormom message, which I think involves holy underwear and wife-trading, but I can’t be sure. When the Osmonds vanished from the television landscape, all that was left was banality, and Seinfeld, and Friends, and Will & Grace. The televised variety show was deader than disco.
If it were not for the cherished few who upload a lot of this stuff on YouTube, we would be hard-pressed to find any of these shows. Very few are available on DVD or VHS. These specials are relics and products of their time.
A & E (The Arts & Entertainment Network) used to run shows like these before they got all reality-based. You would see Donny and Marie and the Osmonds, Laugh-In, Sonny & Cher, Hee-Haw, Battle of the Network Stars, The Muppet Show, The Jacksons, The Andy Williams Show, and Carol Burnett. You would see old “Mystery Wheel” shows like Columbo, Heck Ramsey, and Kojak. For a time, Bravo ran these shows and then they ran on the now-defunct Trio Network, a kind-of pop culture clearing house.
Somewhere in Las Vegas, there is a magical place where Donny and Marie continue to sing for us. They continue to engage in awkward banter. They continue to inspire us.
Season 2 – Episode 4
The Osmonds Christmas Special (1976)
Christopher Hasler: VHS Rewind continues bringing on the Xmas cheer as we visit with the Osmond family circa 1976 and The Osmond Family Christmas Special. The gang’s all here including Donny and Marie and the other, less talented Osmond brothers (after spending an hour watching this show we still cant remember all of their names), even Mom and Dad Osmond join in the festivities (Mom Osmond even plays saxophone!). As an extra special present, the Osmond brood is joined by Andy Williams (of course) and the always incredible Paul Lynde. Join VHS Rewind for christmas carols, lame comedy bits, wacky fashion sense, bad comb-overs, and even a cheesy mustache, all in the inimitable Osmond family style..
Read More »