Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Basket Full of Easter TV Treats

Here's a timely pastiche of old posts dealing with Easter-themed television. It seems like Easter was once a much bigger deal on TV back in the 1970s. Not only did the three major networks air a slew of animated specials, but regular series also aired special Easter-themed episodes!
THE LIFE & TIMES OF GRIZZLY ADAMS was one such series. This NBC family adventure series about a hairy dude (play by future drug afficinando Dan Haggerty) who lived with bears was quite popular during it's two-year run. Grizzly was loosely based on a real person, a bear handler in P.T. Barnum's circus during the early 1980s. This 90-minute holiday episode guest-starred Western legend John Wayne's less than legendary son Patrick. This show should not be confused with BJ AND THE BEAR - which starred Greg Evigan and a monkey named "Bear."

From bears to killer whales...Perry Como, the famously bland singer, hosted a batch of holiday specials on the networks through the 1970s. Joining Perry for this splashy outting - taped at San Diego's Sea World (nothing says Easter like killer whales) are the equally bland duo Grammy-winning Grizzly Adams lookalike Kenny (The Gambler) Rogers and Debby (You Light Up My Life) Boone. The fact that this snoozefest aired at 10PM must have alienated the elderly and grammar school audience that it was meant to attract. I mean who else loves water parks and squeaky-clean easy-listening music but people who are in bed by 9PM?

Speaking of easy-listening, regular readers of Dougsploitation know that when I was a kid I was obsessed with The King Family. The King Family was this humongous group of clean-cut, mostly-blond, well-dressed white folk who sang cover versions of songs made famous by other people. These were mostly showtunes, spirituals and patriotic songs like Climb Every Mountain, He's Got the Whole in His Hands and America the Beautiful. Sometimes they all dressed alike and sometimes they even dressed like royalty!
The King Sisters (Donna, Yvonne, Louise and Alyce) and their extended musical family had their own ABC prime-time variety series from 1965-66. It was sort of like THE LAWRENCE WELK SHOW if Lawrence had fathered everyone.

In all, some thirty-seven members of the King family, ranging in age from seven months to 79 years, were featured on the show. I wanted to be one.

A short-lived 1969 revival, also on ABC, focused on the younger, hipper King Cousins. Don't they look cool?
This special, HAPPY EASTER WITH THE KING FAMILY may have just been a syndicated repeat of an Easter-themed episode of their weekly show, or it may have been an all-new hour-long King-fest. I'm not sure, There was a great King Family Christmas clip show that airs on PBS each holiday season. I heard a follow-up on their non-Christmas shows will be made as well.
Wow! What a star-studded eggstravanga this was! Poor Frankie, first THE HAUNTED HOUSE OF HORROR now an Easter Special from around the same time with an unimpressive line-up of guest stars. Very sad. Brings to mind one of my favorite lines from GREASE, "Would you pull that crap with Annette?"

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Coincedentally I just ordered "The King Family Easter Special" from one of the King Kids. You are spot on, there are covers of showtunes and pop songs and lots of hats. It's a fierce show filmed at a shopping Mall. I sent it to my friends in their Easter cards.