Ernie Kovacs (tv)

The Boston Phoenix

DIRECTED BY: Ernie Kovacs

REVIEWED: 12-01-97

If Lucille Ball is TV's most influential performer, Ernie Kovacs may be its most underappreciated. Kovacs's jokes were uniquely suited to television (out-of-control cameras and other "technical difficulties" might disrupt a skit), and many relied on repetitive elements. Kovacs's Nairobi Trio was a metaphor for the TV series itself. Three guys in the same ape costumes pretended to play the same instruments in synchronization to the same piece of recorded music, but the finale was slightly different each time. Kovacs also pioneered music videos, making familiar objects like file cabinets and roasted turkeys move to some twisted melody. Since his death, nothing on commercial TV has approached his anarchy, and it seems impossible to recapture that now. It would be like trying to bring back kids' toys with sharp metal edges.

Taken from The Boston Phoenix's "50 Years and Counting," a retrospective of the most influential programs from television's first half-century. Click here for the full article.

--Robert David Sullivan

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