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The second season version of "Fernwood 2Nite". The small time talk show from Fernwood, Ohio has moved to Alta Coma, California, where it has taken on a more national flavor. This satire of Merv Griffin, Johnny Carson, and all the other big names in 70's Talk TV promised each week that it would offend some, if not many, with its unusual brand of humor. In this newer version of the show, many well-known TV and movie stars came on as guests, where they often joined the cast in making fun of themselves and their media images. Written by
Jean-Marc Rocher <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Admittedly, I haven't seen the series in many years. I do, however, have a distinct recollection of its droll brand of satiric humor. The series started as a spin-off from Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, at a time when Fernwood's main producer Norman Lear was TV's cutting edge.
I liked the series' first incarnation best, ie. Fernwood 2-night, when the show gently chided small town pretensions at hosting a late night talk show modeled on a big network counterpart. Mull played the host whose smarmy ambitions were constantly punctured by his rather dim-witted sidekick Fred Willard, with humorous bandleader Happy Kine (great name! actually a sly Frank De Vol) in the background. Together, they formed the series nightly draw.
However, the show's delight, for me at least, was never knowing what small town character might show up from night to night. My favorites were blowhard, William W D Bud Prize ("just call me Milton", or some such), played to asinine perfection by Kenneth Mars; or no-talent lounge singer Tony Roletti, done to preening perfection by Bill Kirchenbauer; or Fannie Flagg's prissy, slightly addled librarian (I believe). These might be followed by a tacky specialty act, such as a goofy contortionist or a misfiring animal act. The result was a deftly done parody maybe produced in somebody's garage with used furniture and a collection of slightly off-kilter neighbors.
I don't recall much of the second year. My guess is that the first year was a particular success among industry insiders, such that the second year format altered to accommodate celebrity guests. Whatever the reasoning, I expect there's still enough fans out there to warrant a revival of some sort, probably DVD. Besides I'm still wondering whether Bud Prize's "chin-odontics" contraption finally worked.
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