This reviewer fondly remembers the late Steve Allen's color 1968-69 syndicated Filmways talk-variety show which was videotaped at the Hollywood Video Center in Los Angeles. In the Philadelphia market, for example, the show was broadcast at 4:30 p.m. on WFIL-TV, an ABC- TV affiliate. Allen's zany humor and witty banter entertained a lot of baby boomers. I treasure the memories of Allen and his many guests--ranging from Foster Brooks and Jack Carter to Joe Williams and Frank Zappa, with classic T.V. performers such as Nancy Kulp. Allen's 1968- 69 stage set was funky and cluttered by today's standards, with a heaping bowl of fruit, O.J. container on Allen's desk, and a fake vine "growing" on the backdrop. A louvered door behind Allen's desk, often the vehicle for funny sight gags, was also a way for the crew to slip the host messages during cut aways. Apparently, it was never clear to Allen why his shows ended. Certainly, the Filmways series ended abruptly in November 1969 without much notice to affiliate stations. But after a two-year hiatus, Allen returned to the airways with a chattier 1971-72 Golden West show, but this time with a different host desk and guest chair arrangement (on either side of the desk) and less visual clutter. Gone were the colorful, pop "Laugh In" paisley stage screens seen on the Filmways show; while it was a quasi continuation of the Filmways show, there were a few other changes. During that show's run, Allen sported his familiar sideburns but sported a dark, slightly droopy mustache. The Filmways program, and this later Golden West knockoff, marked the end of Allen's prolific talk-show output in the '60s and early '70s era. Both shows attempted to recapture past network glories, but the times (and audiences) were changing; it seemed the U.S. television networks weren't much interested in Allen anymore. It's unfortunate that these shows, especially the Filmways edition, which highlight the volatile '60s pop culture and music, aren't available on home video. (UCLA has them in the archives.) Note: Video clips of both shows--with musician Tim Buckley, 1968 and comedian Foster Brooks, 1971--can be viewed on YouTube. Perhaps the heirs of Steve Allen might see the wisdom of releasing the recordings some day? Let's hope so. Only a single 1968 Steve Allen Filmways show (the 60 min. version of the 90 min. daily show shown in some markets) is available on DVD.
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