This is the kind of show that makes you want to build a time machine and go back to the 70s. It was a decade full of witty zingers, good clean fun and some great singing as we see in "Lola" ('76), "The Dean Martin Show" ('65-'74), "Sonny & Cher" ('71-'74) and bunches of others.
Speaking of Sonny & Cher, they make a hilarious cameo on the 4th episode. And that's what makes "Lola" a real treat; you never know what famous celebrity might do a surprise walk-on. Bill Cosby, Dinah Shore and--not to be missed--the 7ft tall Richard Kiel (Jaws on a few James Bond movies) pop in for some fun. The regular guests themselves aren't too shabby, with the likes of Muhammed Ali, Hal Linden, Billy Dee Williams, Gabe Kaplan, Dick Van Dyke and Redd Foxx.
It's a shame that there was only a 4-episode run, but we'll take what we can get. Each episode seemed to follow the same basic structure: (1) opening skit with the guests, (2) an upbeat song with the excellent vocals of Lola Falana, (3) Lola's monologue, (4) a funny skit, (5) a more "human" skit, set in Lola's city neighborhood with her playing her younger tomboy self, (6) another funny skit or two, (7) a song/dance extravaganza, (8) a final funny skit, (9) a final closing vocal piece and wrap up from Lola.
I really enjoyed the predictable structure because it built a familiarity from episode to episode. My favorite parts were the (5) "human" skit which showed a certain depth & poetry you might not expect from your standard variety show. These skits were often nostalgic or even bittersweet, always with a nice duet with the weekly guest and the (young kid) Lola.
Don't be put off by the weird cover image of a nearly naked Lola in a silver bikini. This show actually had some depth and intelligence. And the singing is absolutely stunning. No Ashlee Simpson lip-sync here (except on 1 or 2 dance numbers, probably because they didn't have wireless headset microphones back then), this show is the real deal.
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