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OK, Edna is really Barry Humphries, but I will refer to him as her,
since Edna is his, I mean, her, magnum opus. After enjoying the Dame
from her British series and various talk show appearances in the
Colonies, I was ecstatic about the possibility that she might cross the
pond and grace American television with her wit, charm, wit, and, of
course, beauty. Alas, it was not to be.
The pilot show went over well, and featured fellow mega-stars Cher, Bea Arthur, Jack Palance, Larry Hagman, Doc Severison & of course Madge Allsop. The Dame asks The Ultimate Diva, Cher, if men had been a disappointment to her. "On the odd night," was her hilarious reply. The humor was of that nature, always risqué, fresh and delightful. Poor Mel Gibson was unable to penetrate the Dame's lower atrium, however, and is comically bereft, begging at the security camera for an audience with the Dame.
A second episode (though actually filmed third) aired soon thereafter, featured the divine Kim Basinger, with whom the Dame flirts spookily, Chevy Chase, whom the Dame catapults off her couch and a dizzyingly funny Robin Williams, among others. George Hamilton begs rescue from the tanning bed he has known all too well all his life. Ringo Starr twirls his baton in the Dame's vestibule as guest band leader.
The final episode to air had Sean Young, whose problems with actor James Woods are indelicately probed, Burt Reynolds who takes the Dame's flirting well, and Robin Leach, who is summarily ejected by the Dame. Muscial guest Barry Manilow sings "I'll Be Seeing You" and duos with Edna in "Can't Smile Without You".
These shows were the best thing on television in their time, and should have heralded an era of Ednamania that a true mega-star like Herself deserves. Even stars that were not present added to the aura of Edna. She recalls having seen "Little Julia Roberts" at the Mega-stars Anonymous meeting with a wry "What was she doing there? I mean that in a nice way." Sadly, the mania was in Hollywood, and the decision was made to end this glorious reign.
Episode one, the pilot of Dame Edna Everage's first American talk show from her Bel Air Mansion, with Cher, Bea Arthur, Jack Palance, Mel Gibson, Larry Hagman, Doc Severison & of course Madge Allsop, was a good, strong funny show, and an excellent inroduction of the brilliant Dame Edna to American viewers. Edna & Cher sing "I've Got You Babe" together in the show's highlight. Larry Hagman is dropped through a trapdoor into the swimming pool, Mel Gibson is left outside, begging for admittance, and Bea Arthur is relegated to dog grooming duties. The second episode, with Kim Basinger, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Chevy Chase, Burgess Merideth, Rue McClanahan, Robin Williams, Ringo Starr, George Hamilton & of course Madge Allsop, was even better. I was present at the taping and the comic interplay between Edna and all her guests, though especially with Williams, was top-notch. Edna flirts with Basinger, has a trick sofa fling Chase out the window, fails to rescue George Hamilton who is trapped in his sunbed and says that bandleader Starr is "Twirling his baton in my vestibule". Episode 3, with Sean Young, Barry Manilow, Robin Leach, Burt Reynolds and the ever present Madge Allsop is the least of the series, though still funnier than anything anyone else is doing on American TV. Lackluster guests Young, Manilow & Reynolds bring the fun quotient down, especially the smarmy Reynolds whose charms have hardened into boorishness, so the flirting from Edna is slightly creepy, rather than funny. Manilow sings "I'll Be Seeing You" and Edna sings Manilow's "Can't Smile Without You". Actually the second show shot, it was held back as the later shot episode with Robin Williams run first, as the Williams show was so clearly better than the one with Reynolds. Edna has Robin Leach tossed off a balcony though, so you've got to love her. All told, a great, far too short-lived comedy/variety series. Edna, come back! American TV NEEDS you!
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