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Probably the last real gasp for the American variety show. What was the
staple of TV viewing in the 60's and 70's had begun a slow descent, long
before the multi-talented Ms. Parton took to the airwaves. it seemed like
anybody WHO was anybody had a variety show. Sonny and Cher, Carol Burnett,
any just about any warm body that could introduce an act, or make an
audience laugh, had their own variety show. But with the onset of the 70's
Fred Silverman sit-com's, the genre was going out of style. The lowest point
would have to be the infamous "Pink Lady and Jeff" show, and commentary on
THAT is probably better suited on their page, here at IMDB.com.
It wasn't for a lack of trying that "DOLLY" faded, as a good deal of work seemed to go into this show. Quality acts, just look at the run of guests she had, and Ms. Parton's happy nature drove the program for it's short but memorable run.
Had it started in 1977, instead of 1987, it might have had longer legs.
And of course, those red blooded American males of us who watched the show, probably were NOT tuning in just to hear her sing, she was(IS) a very beautiful lady to look at.
I don't agree with the other user's comments and thought
the show was very entertaining and fast-paced. Brett Butler did most of the writing and did an acceptable job for the skits. At least we had a chance to see a real variety show once more. The variety show format was already dead but was revived for a short time with Dolly. I have the entire series on video and still enjoy watching it from time to time. It
sure beats anything else on TV these days, at least in my opinion. Maybe that's why it didn't last longer - it
didn't have any sex or violence.
Dolly Parton was and still is one of the most vivacious singers/actresses
have graced the stage and screen, so to have the show bearing her name
had no life is hard to accept. Sadly, it was a real sleeper.
The show had big-name guests and a host that was not only beautiful but also normally full of laughs and bubbles. The show's format and scripts somehow constrained all that and the production settled for too long and dreamy song sequences, darkly lit sets, uninspired camera work, Oprah trying to sing, gospel choirs, flat skits, and just bad "down-home country" clips of everyday people trying to be silly. The show was destined for disaster.
Happily, Ms. Parton's career survived!
The variety show had been a staple since the earliest days of
television, but throughout the 80s the genre was on the verge of
extinction. Enter Dolly Parton, a tiny country singer with a big voice,
a big heart and even bigger physical attributes who'd made a meteoric
rise from twangy country singer to pop star to movie star, becoming an
international household name in the process. Dolly had gotten her big
break appearing as a regular for 6 years on the "Porter Wagoner Show"
and she hosted a short-lived syndicated show of her own in 1976, so
when she approached them with the idea, ABC decided to take a chance
and attempt to revive the variety format with this experienced lady who
was now one of the biggest superstars in the world (and whom had
recently undergone a flabbergasting surgical weight loss). Dolly was
contracted for two seasons and paid a million dollars an episode... and
as a savvy businesswoman with the new theme park Dollywood to look
after, it was stipulated that she'd receive the $44 million whether or
not the show was prematurely canceled. On top of her exorbitant salary,
they spent an additional million per episode on production costs, often
taping more material than they needed (scenes with Dolph Lundgren,
Minnie Mouse and others never aired).
Making its big debut, "Dolly" was a real product of its time, filled with Dayglo colors, corny comedy, and a who's-who of '80s celebrities. As they were heading into production, the singer was focused on her over-synthesized new pop album "Rainbow," which was D.O.A. at record stores and her last major foray into pop music. As such, she let the producers develop much of the show's format, including a weekly skit that caused minor controversy called "Dolly's Date" in which a male celebrity (ranging from Bruce Willis to Pee Wee Herman to Jon Lovitz) would have a cheesy "date" with the long-time-wedded hostess. Other recurring skits included "Vanity Fair," in which Dolly portrayed a hairdresser named Velma, and "Dixie's Place," where (utilizing her real-life husband's last name) she was truck stop waitress Dixie Lee Dean. The latter was particularly interesting because the tone veered toward dramedy and there was a recurring cast with truckers Bubba (Walter Olkewicz) and Charlie (Ritch Brinkley), as well as chef Carlos (Sal Lopez).
Dolly was along for the ride at first but following a strong premiere, ratings began to plummet so she took a more hands-on approach. The glossy opening-theme re-recording of "Baby I'm Burning" was replaced by a live rendition of "Hoedown Showdown," she dropped all of the skits except "Dixie's Place," the TV celebrities got the boot in favor of popular country acts, her singing segments were expanded, and there were several themed episodes. For Thanksgiving, she shot an episode in her hometown, the Christmas show was a garish tinsel-fest filled with singing children, there were quasi-educational episodes in Hawaii and New Orleans, and she headed to Nashville, where she reunited with Porter Wagoner after a more than decade-long feud.
The show became something kind of special but despite her valiant efforts, ratings didn't improve, with most viewers opting to watch the movie-of-the-week that played opposite (or, for those who could pick up the station, watching Tracey Ullman's and Gary Shadling's shows on the new Fox network). When Dolly won a People's Choice Award for hosting the show, she quipped, "I don't think the same people who work the Neilsen boxes voted for this." At the end of the first season, the series was canceled, marking the final network attempt at a full-blown weekly variety show until Neil Patrick Harris's shorter-lived "Best Time Ever" in 2015.
Despite the lack-of-success, Parton was proud of the series and kept clips running on a loop at her Dollywood museum. Similarly, fans still seem to be gaga over it, with a variety of fan-uploaded You Tube videos racking up millions of hits. It's a shame that the show wasn't given a second year to blossom, and that it's never been issued on legal home media. Although there were some rocks, there were more of nuggets of gold, and the show's definitely essential for her fans to seek out.
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