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Fowler’s Flix 01.09.19: Television Specials of Future Past

MPI Home Video
Perry Como and a few mediocre 70s stars come together in "Perry Como's Olde English Christmas."
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Back before VCRs and Tivo and Hulu and so on, television used to be total appointment viewing that, especially when it came to one-off award shows or holiday treats, you had better be there to catch them or they’d probably disappear forever, more than likely never to be seen again. Star Wars Holiday Special, anyone?

How could they have known about DVDs back then? Thankfully, technology picks up the previous generations slack and blesses us with long-forgotten musical specials and solid clip-shows that, let’s be honest, very few people in your house will enjoy. But you might as well, I guess.

Long ago and mostly far away, men like Perry Como ruled the charts and, of course, ruled seasonal television with specials like, thank God, Perry Como’s Olde English Christmas (MPI Home Video).

Traveling to Jolly Old England in 1977, I guess it was a great idea for a last-minute tax write-off to film this datedly fun holiday special there, fulfilling all of our stereotyped sugarplum dreams.

With a cast that includes Olympic figure skater John Curry and Irish actress Gemma Craven—whoever they are—the real showstopping, sadly, comes from appearances by frizzy-haired Leo Sayer and downtowner Petula Clark—who I admittedly confused with Lulu for a few minutes—they make merry with tunes such somewhat classic tunes as “The Holly and the Ivy” and “Greensleeves” while running around in a suitably stiff upper lipped castle.

The Dick Cavett Show was always more than a talk show, bringing on entertainers and newsmakers that people really wanted to see and, when they’re done with their promotional song and dance, then asking them actual hard-hitting questions, albeit with a sly smirk on his face. These two new Dick Cavett Show collections—And That’s the Way It Is and Inside the Minds of… (S’More Entertainment)—are prime examples of his famed and often duplicated interviewing technique.

In Way, Cavett takes us through over 30 years of journalists and reporters and detailing their job of bringing us the world, from Walter Cronkite to Dan Rather. It’s a rare intersection of entertainment and news, before a time when every on-camera person had to be a good-looking celebutante of sorts.

Additionally, Inside… is more of his thoughtful jabs at trying to find the serious side of comedians, the likes of Bobcat Goldthwait and Gilbert Gottfried, among others, opening themselves up in very unexpected ways.

Finally, the best—and exquisitely, the worst—in country music are thoroughly showcased in CMA Awards Live: Greatest Moments 1968-2015 (Time-Life). Cataloging 50 or so years of over 120 of the greatest performances to grace the stage—Johnny Cash, Charley Pride and George Strait, to name a few—to some of absolute nadir of the art form—Dierks Bentley, Florida Georgia Line and Blake Shelton—to name some of the rest.

Really, your purchase of CMA Awards Live basically depends on your tolerance between the classic stuff and the newer garbage, something I don’t feel ashamed to say publicly. But, then again, some people don’t care for Perry Como or Dick Cavett either, so I see your point.

Next week: The return of Artsploitation!

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About the Author

Louis Fowler

Güicho. Gadfly. Chicano. Choctaw. Cristero. Freelancer. Leftist. Activist. Vilified. PKD....

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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