The Variety Hour

This post is Jason Hare’s fault. You see, if it wasn’t for his Chart Attack! of last week (which featured Glen Campbell’s “Southern Nights”), I probably wouldn’t have posted this. What brought it all home that I’m really a dinosaur nowadays is when Jason said the following:

Man, remember when Glen Campbell was just huge? Because I don’t. I’m not even sure how many people my age will know much about him other than his unflattering mugshot a few years ago.

Well, you see Glen had a pretty good career (which any music lover who has an Internet connection can find out). But the one thing I remember was his variety hour that we (“We,” meaning my family) watched on TV back in the day. 🙂

The whole variety hour phenomenon came up when J and I were taking our dog for a walk the evening. I started talking about the song “Southern Nights, ” which sparked spontaneous singing by both of us, and then it quickly dovetailed into “Remember when Glen Campbell had a show?” Followed by, “Yeah, do you remember Mac Davis and his show?” Then the list started to grow:

1. Sonny and Cher

2. Jim Stafford

3. Hee Haw

4. The Brady Bunch

5. Donny and Marie

6. Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-in

7. The Smothers Brothers

I’m sure there are other shows I’m missing, but the point is the variety hour format of “songs, bad sketch comedy, and more songs” was quite the ratings grabber back in the 70s. If you want a rough comparison, just think of the multitude of reality shows on TV nowadays. That’s what the variety hour was like back then — except you only had 3 channels and one TV everyone had to share.

So, here we go with a short list of singers/celebs who, once upon a time, had a weekly TV gig:

First up: Glen Campbell singing his big hit “Galveston”

And then Donny and Marie Osmond wanted the clean fun to continue with their show. This is really corny stuff, but at least they look like they were having a good time.

And what do you do with the Brady Bunch after the show goes off the air? Well, duh! You give them a variety show that completely sucked (even suckier when you see that “fake Jan” is in the cast).

And you gotta go out on a high note! So why not go out with the song that closed the good times on the Sonny and Cher Show (Complete with “Goodnight everybody” from Chastity).

See? TV completely sucked back then, too!

–PK

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