I’ve been engaging in this pointless endeavor for more than three years. I’ve rewatched many hours of television from my childhood, with my feelings towards them ranging from warm, soothing nostalgia to abject horror that such a thing ever existed. Often I’m just puzzled. There were a lot of baffling decisions made, particularly with television of the 70s. Though the medium had existed for over two decades by that point, there still seemed to be a lot of confusion as to exactly what could be done with it, and how to do it. Perhaps it really was just radio but with pictures. Or, perhaps it could be a viable alternative to movies. Or, perhaps it could be a new way to showcase beautiful women in tight and/or skimpy clothing. Or it was the most effective advertising platform businesses had ever (or would ever, until the internet) had in their grasp. It was all of these things. It was none of these things. But, try it all anyway, just in case, to see what works best.
This was particularly true of variety shows, that great though now long dead genre that people like Rosie O’Donnell and Martin Short have tried numerous times to revive, with resoundingly unimpressive results. As I’ve written about time and time again, variety shows were a fascinating experiment in the “throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks” method of entertainment, with no clear indication as to who the audience was, and cast with a mix of performers who were known largely for appearing on other variety shows, and those who had no recognizable affinity (let alone talent for) singing, dancing, or doing comedy. Whether there was a palpable desperation to make it work, or an air of utter indifference, they were always entertaining to watch.