I rented the DVD collection in hopes of getting a bit of a fun '80s flashback with this near-legendary bomb of a TV series. However, I was not at all prepared for how truly embarrassing and awful it is. Like the films "Myra Breckinridge," "Xanadu" and "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band," "Pink Lady and Jeff" is one of those pop culture misfires that surpasses its reputation; it's even worse than you were told it was.
Everything you've heard about it is true. This cross-cultural nightmare occurred during that awkward period when disco was wearing out its welcome and variety shows had sunk into a tired routine of endlessly replicating the Donny & Marie / Sonny and Cher format. On "Pink Lady" it went like this: If Cher began every show crooning in mid close up only to peel off her wrap and reveal a ridiculous glitter-festooned outfit as the music tempo picked up, then indeed Mei and Kei started every episode in kimonos that they whipped off to reveal twin icky, Bob Mackie-esqe creations (a-la Donny and Marie or The Captain & Tennille remember that stinker of a variety show?). If Tony Orlando and Dawn followed the first song with a lame series of gags in which one member of Dawn was the sweet one and the other sarcastic, then "Pink Lady" did them one better by having the girls deliver their lines without a clue as to what they were saying and co-star Jeff Altman (who is unfunny in any language) creating a black hole of nothingness in the center of the screen. There were the flat comedy skits, the lame medleys and the clubfooted dance routines by, in this case, a chorus line of chubby legged girls with too much permed hair and apparently not enough rehearsal time.
Every variety show had a gimmick back then as well as their own troupe of dancers and comedians. Donny & Marie had an ice rink, The Brady Bunch Variety hour had a swimming pool, "Pink Lady" had a hot tub. Sonny and Cher had Steve Martin and Teri Garr, Mary Tyler Moore's variety show had David Letterman, Pink Lady had Jim (Ernest) Varney! Yikes!
Every poorly chosen song, all the cheesy choreography, the throw-a-name-in-a-hat lineup of "guests" who all look like they'd rather be anywhere else, and the groan inducing skits all make for a surreal experience unsurpassed by anything on "The Twilight Zone"
For a clue as to the level of delusion that must have played a huge part in the making of "Pink Lady & Jeff" listen to the special features interview with Jeff Altman. While fast to poke fun at the show and himself, he goes beyond diplomacy when he describes the writing staff as "talented" and his sanity is called into question when he waxes on about the comic versatility of the late Jim Varney while using as an example, a character that Varney created that was now get this a hillbilly! How's that for versatility? Altman also gives himself "credit" for bringing his own stand-up act material to the show and launches into an abysmal Nixon impersonation that makes it obvious that he STILL has no idea of how unfunny he is!
What's apparent is that nobody would have thought the show was crap if it was a hit. Honestly, everything Sid and Mart Krofft did was crap, some of it was just more successful crap than the others. "Pink Lady and Jeff" is just a sterling example of the former.
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