Seventies Party Video

Austin Chronicle


REVIEWED: 11-17-97

This gem of a compilation is chock-full of the kind of television that simultaneously made TV bizarre and insipid in the Seventies. It includes the opening credits sequences for shows like Baretta and S.W.A.T., commercials for toys like the Sno-Cone Snowman (that never worked like it did on the ads), and the Evel Kneivel play set and tons of clips from long-forgotten cartoons. The worst thing about commercial compilations, though, is when the awful realization sets in that you've been watching 30 minutes of ads!! The very thing that they invented the mute button on your remote for!!

Jan Brady (Eve Plumb) refused to participate in The Brady Variety Hour. Not Marcia!

Who remembers that bizarre Jetsons hybrid, The Partridge Family 2200 A.D.? Or the cartoon Osmonds? There's The Bugaloos, the Banana Splits (with a craaaazy musical number), H.R. Pufnstuf, and a weird, druggy installment of Multiplication Rock with a very Tom Petty-ish character. I had forgotten that the Hudson Brothers show had such a funky, rockin' theme song! Much more excruciating, though, are the clips from the Donny and Marie variety hour, with the crapulently clean-cut Mormon siblings doing some " I'm a little bit country -- I'm a little bit rock & roll" duets, complete with chorus girls going through the paces of a third-rate Busby Berkeley routine. Guess it's what you'd call an LSD flashback. Oh, and Peter Frampton does "Show Me the Way" live, with Elton John doing "The Bitch Is Back" (both of them object lessons in why punk rock was inevitable).

But the answer to the question, "How bad could TV really get back then?" has to lie in the mercifully short-lived Brady Variety Hour. This has to be one of the most vomit-inducing displays of wretchedness ever committed to videotape. The whole miserable clan (replete with faux Eve Plumb, after the genuine article said "No, thank you" to this little venture) stands on risers and halfheartedly mouths the words to a disco medley, with Florence Henderson in a glittery pink gown with pink boa, Robert Reed in a pumpkin-colored satin tux, and the rest of the brats in similarly eye-wrenching polyester. Chorus girls swim, lights flash, synthesizers warble, mirrored disco balls spin, and the Bradys cut up with each other in a most appalling fashion among the five-dollar Vegas glitz. Yeesh.

If you're under 25, you'll get a good laugh. If you're over 30, it'll dislodge a clot of fetid memories like a gas-filled corpse rising to the top of a hog-waste lagoon.

--Jerry Renshaw

Film Vault Suggested Links
The Brady Bunch (tv)
The Simpsons (tv)
The Singing Detective (tv)

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