Boomerang on CN: "1975" (5/8/04) Comments
The first full year of the Ford administration is marked by the fall of Saigon (and more or less the end of the Vietnam War), the beginnings of the disco craze, Ford falling down some stairs while disembarking from an airplane (and being made fun of it by Chevy Chase on "Saturday Night Live") and anticipation for next year's bicentennial celebrations. At the movies, "Jaws" takes a big bite out of the box office, while on TV, "Sonny and Cher", "The Rockford Files", "M*A*S*H" and "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" are all popular primetime fare. Coca-Cola also promised to "teach the world to sing" in its famous people-on-a-mountaintop-holding-candles ads.
<Worthless comic trivia>
This year's Justice League-Justice Society school busing debate involved 70's DC comics scribes Cary Bates (the "Flash"'s main writer in the 70's and 80's) and Elliot S. Maggin (who, along with Bates, was the main writer of Superman through the 70's and 80's, up until Byrne's takeover in '86) making an appearance within the story, as they're accidentially thrown from Earth-Prime (which at the time was the comic book stand-in for the real world, where superheroes only existed in comic books [and TV shows, movies, merchandise, etc. etc.]) into Earth-1 and Earth-2; meanwhile, the JSA are accidentially killed. Oops. The Spectre (as is his wont) gets involved to bring the JSAers back.
This year also sees publication, IIRC, of the "Spider-Man" story where he's cloned and believes the clone is accidentially killed off... which Marvel uses decades later in that whole dreadful "Spider-Clone" nonsense. More importantly on the Marvel side of things is this year seeing publication of "Giant Size X-Men #1", the first modern appearance of the X-Men (and sparking, um, having more seperate comic titles published per month than the population of China...). (See? I said I'd throw in some more Marvel trivia...)
Re: Saturday Mornings in 1975:
1975 saw, thanks to the success of last year's "Shazam!" and "Land of the Lost" shows, a bunch of live-action adventure/"action" shows come down the pike.
According to TV Party's website, "American Bandstand" this season featured a guest appearance from Freddie Prinze Sr. (Freddie Prinze Jr.'s now-deceased father and star of 70's sitcom "Chico and the Man"). Kool and the Gang was also featured.
This week's entries:
"These Are the Days"
"Josie and the Pussycats"
Schedule info once again courtesy of "TV Party" (www.tvparty.com/sat75.html).
These Are the Days (ABC)
Animated by Hanna-Barbera, this "Waltons"-esque show featured stories about the Day family (a grandfather, a widowed mother, and her several children) living in a small town at the turn of the century (not *this* turn of the century, but the last one---100 years ago.. :-) ).
A magician stays with the Day family, impresses the family (except for Grandpa) with his worldliness, and promises to help the town put on a talent show to raise funds for a new bell for its clock tower---but bails out on the town just before the show.
Presumably H-B's attempt to cash in on the success of 70's dramatic series "The Waltons", a show about a working-class family living in in the rural U.S. during the Great Depression (and gave the world the classic phrase "good night, John-Boy!"). The first President Bush cited the "Waltons" once as an example of what Americans should be like, stating we should be "more like the Waltons and less like the Simpsons"---prompting a brief before-the-credits bumper from the Simpsons staff weeks after the president's quote, and a (IMO dumb) episode featuring Bush that aired several seasons after Bush left office.
Despite not involving teenagers (except for one or two of the Days kids, I guess), wacky animal sidekicks, or solving mysteries/fighting megalomaniacal villains, the show (or at least this sole episode, not having seen this show before) seems entertaining enough for its era, in an "animated Waltons" fashion...which probably explains its short lifespan. ;-)
Voices included June Lockheart (of "Lost In Space") and Henry Jones (of 70's sitcom "Phyllis", a "Mary Tyler Moore" spinoff).
Re: the opening credits:
Grandpa's apparently an inventor of Rube Goldberg-ish devices---aka devices that involve a multitude of elaborate (bordering on ludicrous) steps to perform a simple function.
At the turn of the century (pre-World War One), automobiles weren't common among anyone other than the wealthy; Henry Ford's invention of the assembly line in the 1910's (to make mass-manufacturing cars possible), along with his eventual introduction of the Model "T", changed this. Additionally, autos of this era needed a hand crank to start the engine; the electric starter was another early 1910's invention, but probably wasn't standard-issue for cars until the 20's or 30's.
Re: this episode:
Magicians pre-World War One probably would've still been using horse and carriages to travel around in, since cars and trucks would've been quite expensive... especially if he wasn't a successful magician (or down on his luck)...
Similar to cars, telephones weren't a common household item at this point in time---hence the magician asking if the Days' *town* (vs. house) had a phone.
Theodore Roosevelt was President of the United States between 1901 and 1909. "Teddy" Roosevelt is credited with establishing various reforms, including antitrust laws (i.e. laws that prevent companies from establishing monopolies/oligopolies or allowing one company to dominate multiple different areas, or "vertical integration"; Roosevelt was noted for his "trust busting" tactics, which didn't make him too popular with business tycoons of the day), modern food and drug safety laws (the Pure Food and Drug act of 1907(?), which helped to banish much of the "snake oil" salesmen products that were common at the time), and environmental protections (via establishing national parks). Roosevelt also was noted for his participation in the Spanish-American War of 1898, his tastes for engaging in safaris and hunting, and served as the inspiration for the invention of the "teddy bear." All of the above probably makes Teddy Roosevelt one of the most noteworthy presidents of the 20th century, and earned him a place on Mount Rushmore in South Dakota alongside Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln's heads.
Theodore Roosevelt was also a cousin of another noteworthy 20th century president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Democrat, served a record four terms in office, from 1933 until his death in 1945). Wonder if Teddy being a Republican and Franklin being a Democrat ever came up in any family gatherings/political debates...
Henry Corden sounds like he voiced the magician---he sounds like a dead ringer for a (stuck-up-sounding) version of his Fred Flintstone. Corden takes over Fred's voice a few years after this point, when Fred's original voice Alan Reed(sp?) dies.
"Days" actually debuted in the 74-75 season; in the 75-76 season, it was running in repeats on Sunday mornings. Its competition in the 74-75 season at noon EST:
NBC: "The Jetsons." Reruns of this early 60's H-B classic were a perennial staple of NBC's lineup in the 70's.
Wonder if they excised the scenes of George/Mr. Spacely smoking or something...
CBS: "The U.S. of Archie". Another Archie spinoff, this one running two seasons. Here, the Riverdale gang travel through time to meet various historical American figures such as George Washington.
An obvious attempt to cash in on the then-current bicentennial fever with said-themed show.
Guess "Days" must've not caught kids-of-the-day's attention... or "Archie" and "The Jetsons" were too much competition. Either that, or it got pre-empted for ABC sports coverage given its timeslot...
The daily life adventures of a traveling group of stunt cyclist siblings.
The youngest sibling wants a minibike, against her older stunt daredevil brother's wishes.
A show created by H-B to cash in on the then-current 70's "Evel Knievel" stunt cyclist craze. Would probably be more entertaining if not for the bargain-basement animation (that same recycled clip of him jumping some cars on his bike looked more impressive when I watched this show in reruns as an 8-year-old :-) ). Then again, I also remember seeing this episode as a kid---and I guess it was more entertaining then than it is now...
The lead Devlin himself showed up again several weeks ago on "Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law" as the defendant in a lawsuit (and is made to look like an out-of-shape, middle-aged, washed-up has-been)...
"Devlin" only lasted one season (the 1974-75 season), and aired in reruns on Sunday mornings in '75-'76; "Devlin"'s competition at 10 AM EST on Saturdays in '74:
CBS: "Valley of the Dinosaurs". H-B cartoon with virtually exact same premise as the big hit of '74...
ABC: ... "Land of the Lost". Krofft scored with this one, as it stuck around on the air off-and-on for years---well past this era of shows and into the more well-produced early 90's.
Josie and the Pussycats (NBC)
The gang vs. a countess who wants to make everyone on Earth elderly, with a spray mist.
While reruns, the original "Josie" was on the Saturday schedule this year, apparently chosen over the "outer space" version.
"Josie" ran in two timeslots this season, originally airing at noon, but was moved in October to 8:30 (replacing repeats of "Sigmund and the Sea Monsters") with the "Jetsons" taking over the noon timeslot.
Since I've discussed "Josie" to death, I'll throw in some worthless trivia about Archie Comics in general, from whence the show originated:
In the 1940's, Archie's company, "MLJ Comics", was publishing various superhero comics (such as "the Shield", a Capt. America-like hero) like most other publishers cashing in on Superman's success were. Eventually, they started publishing a comic called "Pep Comics", featuring various heroes, etc. as the lead feature; like most comics of the day, this book was anthology-sized, with various "backup" features. Around issue #22, one of the backups was a story about Archie Andrews... which proved so popular that eventually, Archie became MLJ's lead comic character, with the superheroes eventually being dropped altogether and the company renamed "Archie Comics". Over the years, their old superheroes have mostly made sporadic comeback attempts, but none of them were ever really successful. Thus, Archie, a Golden Age comic book character, has stuck around for the past sixty years, and probably has (over the decades) had the most seperate titles of any character (save maybe for Richie Rich).
The Archie gang's full names: Archie Andrews, Veronica Lodge, Betty Cooper, Forsythe "Jughead" Jones, Moose Mason, Dilton Doiley, and Reggie Mantle.
Possibly the weirdest Archie comic ever has to be "Archie Meets the Punisher", a Marvel/Archie joint production, where Frank Castle stalks a crook of some sort to Riverdale, with the crook IIRC resembling Archie. *Why* this ever saw print (since it doesn't seem to do the Riverdale gang justice) I have no idea...
Archie's probably the one comic book left that one'll still see sold at most newsstands and supermarkets, thanks to its publishing of "digest" comics, or small, square-shaped reprints of old comic stories, and said digests' placement at checkouts across the country...which of course, is where kids are more likely to see them (vs. having to go to a comic book shop). From what I understand, the Archie digests actually sell quite decently, even (especially) by superhero comic standards. DC used to put out digest comics as well (IIRC, one line was called "Best of DC Digest"), but stopped in the early 80's; these days, the artwork in most superhero comics is probably too complex to shrink down to digest-size to reproduce well (though the Animated line of comics of DC's might pass such shrinkage)...
"Josie"'s competitors at noon:
CBS: "Valley of the Dinosaurs." Season two of reruns for this "Land of the Lost"-style H-B animated offering.
ABC: "Speed Buggy". Third season.
"Josie"'s competitors at 8:30 AM:
CBS: "The Bugs Bunny/Roadrunner Hour". Bugs and the gang expand their timeslot by decade's end.
ABC: "The Tom and Jerry/Grape Ape Show." Debut season, runs for three years (with trenchcoat-wearing Muttley-ripoff "Mumbley" joining the lineup next year).
As TV Party states, the Grape Ape was a 40-foot-tall purple gorilla who could only say his own name (a la "Pokemon"), and hung out with a talking van-driving beagle. The Tom and Jerry cartoons, however, bear further discussion: Hanna and Barbera, the creators of Tom and Jerry (Oscar winners in their 1940's theatrical heyday), brought them back in this 70's series, their first animated appearances since they ceased making theatrical appearances in around the mid-60's, but since their brand of slapstick violence was frowned on by this point, they were changed: Jerry sported a red bow tie, and the two were (with at least one or two episodes as exceptions) treated as friends instead of enemies. Despite running for several seasons, this change proved unpopular enough to merit reinstating the two's traditional adversarial nature in the next TV "Tom and Jerry" series, the early 80's Filmation-produced series. The cartoons in this series were usually included along with the Filmation and theatrical Tom and Jerry cartoons in syndicated packages of "Tom and Jerry" cartoons in the 80's (of course, they syndicated "Tom and Jerry" cartoons in the 70's, too, on weekday afternoon programming...).
This "Tom and Jerry as friends" stuff was probably the inspiration for the "Simpsons" episode where Itchy and Scratchy were subject to the same unpopular, short-lived treatment after Marge's anti-violence protests (LISA: "Itchy and Scratchy seem to have lost their edge.").
Get in the spirit... the spirit of '76---not the gas station, that is, but rather 1976, as we salute our nation's bicentennial year with the shows "Clue Club" and "Dynomutt".
> Roosevelt also... served as the inspiration for the invention of the "teddy bear." <
There's an interesting story behind that- actually, there's several versions. But they all have to do with Roosevelt refusing to shoot a bear in unsportsmanlike circumstances.
Here's one of the more detailed accounts:
Well, I don't have much positive to say here. The second evil empire of 70s children's programming rears its head again with Land of the Lost. Yuck. Hard to believe this stayed on the air for so long. I admit I sometimes watched Sigmund the Sea Monster, but really I just tolerated it until something better came on. Those monsters and crazy 70s hair cuts freaked me out.