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|6 reviews in total|
I may be wrong, but as I recall this was another "summer replacement" series. I don't think it lasted more than a couple of episodes ...There were the straight-laced and exasperated Mr. Takahishi (Mr. T), the brainless white-girl housekeeper (Tina) and the crazy uncle (Uncle Matsu) who did things like throw cherry blossoms in the toilet while reciting Haiku, among other characters. In the tradition of "Ivan the Terrible," it was shot on what looked like a set about 12 feet in size, for about 50 bucks. LOts of racist stereotypes, bad and pretty boring. The 70s were full of such short-lived garbage -- now with Pat Morita gone (a pretty good actor when given appropriate roles), maybe it will be released in a "best of..." DVD!
Those of us who lived through the 1970s as kids and young teens still
sometimes wake up in the night, shrieking uncontrollably and shaking
violently. This show is one of the reasons for that.
Imagine, a whole television series built around a husband and wife team of mimes. I'm open-minded enough to admit that there are people who do not immediately reach for a sledgehammer the minute they see a mime, but back in those days when there were only a couple or a few channels to choose from (no cable, kiddies), the mere mention of the name Shields and Yarnell made me want to bludgeon myself to death.
How many times can one behold a scene of people doing "the robot" without wanting to scream...and the fact they took it as oh-so-serious "art" made it somehow more horrifying. My sister insisted on watching this" I fantasized about what I could do with a human-sized blender.
This show died not because the subject matter was too controversial,
but because the show sucked.
Plot lines included the happy couple buying a waterbed, then trying it out while the parents are hanging out in the room below -- it bursts of course, and oh what comedy ensues! You can imagine.
As for making David Birney a star -- well, that depends on your definition of star. I guess for Ozzie Nelson this was daring material, and maybe if you were in Kansas, but as a New Yorker, the idea of a kindly hip Reform Jewish family watching their son marrying the daughter of a somewhat uptight but ultimately kindly well-to-do Irish Catholic family didn't exactly set fire to the aerial.
This is another in the 1970s tradition of absolutely abysmal "summer replacement series." It ran I think in August of 1977, and featured two junior-high age brothers as a two-man rock band (like an abbreviated Partridge Family) in a Sonny and Cher musical variety show format (a monologue, a skit, a quick blackout piece, a song, a "film" segment -- usually of the brothers being chased or chasing a junior high girl in undercranked high-speed tape for the comedy value -- another song, some skits, a guest number (Andy Williams sang "When I was 17," while the boys countered stanza for stanza with "When I was only 1," a laff-riot) etc. It was shows like this that drove silver nails into the coffin of musical variety TV.
I remember this series as a "summer replacement" in what was probably
about August of 1976 -- I was 11 then and it was manifestly unfunny to
me even at that immature age. It belongs to a genre of mid-1970s
"comedies" that were shot on what seemed like small sets -- as I recall
the whole thing seemed to the viewer like it was taped in a room the
size of the average garage. AS with most of these, it consisted largely
of a bunch of one-joke characters standing in a row while they traded
one-liners with the main character. As I recall (and I haven't seen it
in that many years) just as the punch line of every joke in Hogan's
Heroes was "the Russian Front," so the punchline in Ivan was something
about the KGB.
As I recall, this show was off the air in about four weeks.
I do miss one thing though. Back then there were three major networks in the US, and even in NY and LA there were maybe three local stations with largely syndicated programming and locally produced shows in addition to the three network affiliates -- that's a total of six channels (seven, if you count PBS) in the largest of large markets, not the 300 channels we have now. Summer was a time when dirt-cheap "summer replacement series" and slightly larger-budget one-time pilots were on the air, and there was something more "real" about the amateurish, fly-by-night feel of them, as awful as they were (it was like watching ED Wood movies made for TV). Now, everything is so slick, so test-marketed, so computerized and hyped that they've lost all their charm.
If the fabulously awful yet admirably enthusiastic director Ed Wood had
ever made a kids' holiday flick, this would have been it.
This movie is not bad, if by bad you mean boring and a waste of time. It's spectacularly appalling, the way "Plan 9" is. They obviously had a budget of about fifty bucks to make this, and it shows.
But some of us love these evidences that once upon a time in America there was such a thing as real independent cinema, and all-afternoon multi-feature holiday shows at neighborhood theaters that only had one screen, and sing-along events built into kids' movies, and fun that didn't depend on multi-billion dollar special effects.
This is one of those movies that you will laugh at and make fun of, yet long for the days when local, independent television stations aired it on a Saturday afternoon before Christmas. You'll make jokes about it, but catch yourself absentmindedly humming "Hooray for Santy Claus!" for the rest of your life. And you'll amaze your friends with -- "I know what movie Pia Zadora made her debut in, and you don't!"