(Air Date: Week Of 6/26/96)
There was a ten year gap between the death of the Ed Sullivan show on CBS and the birth of Music Television, a decade in which the variety show format, complete with every new batch of top forty artists, floundered. Between 1964 and 1971, though, Ed Sullivan enjoyed something of a renaissance, spotlighting virtually every top musical act of that era. Network executives took note & ABC's "Shindig" and NBC's "Hullabaloo!" were launched in the mid-sixties to capitalise on the revived interest in rock personalities. They didn't trust the short-lived worship of fans, however, so they added long-time show business entertainers to the mix, hoping to attract viewers of all ages and extend the life spans of such series.
Since both shows fizzled within two seasons, the formula clearly didn't work, but undaunted, ABC programmers tried again with 1969's "Music Scene". It endured for all of sixteen weeks. MPI Home Video secured the rights to release eight hours of material from the show and began distributing the first four volumes on VHS and laserdiscs last week. Here's your chance to see what a genuinely warm and funny television host the late Mama Cass Elliot might have made as she trades quips with a young David Steinberg. Or to hear Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme serving up romance between sets by Sly and The Family Stone and Little Richard. Or to ponder the time-locked phenomena like Gary Puckett and Bobby Sherman and one-hit wonders like Smith and Ten Years After.
On one surreal show, Janis Joplin turns up singing "Maybe", "The Mod Squad's" Michael Cole reads poetry by Rod McKuen and the animated Archies perform "Sugar Sugar": No wonder "Music Scene" confused the audiences for which it was originally intended! You may not have been waiting your whole life to experience TWO versions of "Sugar Sugar", but it's fun to check out the Creedence Clearwater Revival, Three Dog Night and the Rascals at their youthful best. And Tommy Smothers and Lily Tomlin, both fresh from long-running series, are the obvious standouts in a resident comedy troupe mostly filled with beginners.
Among the stars who appeared on "Music Scene" were the Beatles, James Brown, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Buck Owens, Oliver, Tom Jones, Stevie Wonder, & Groucho Marx: hopefully some of these legends will be included in "Music Scene's" next four volume collection. In the meantime, you can enjoy ABC's pleasantly dated idea of what the late sixties meant to those who actually lived through them. For more information on "Music Scene", call MPI HOME VIDEO at 1-708-460-0555.
Copyright 1996 Monica Sullivan
"Movie Magazine International" Movie Review Index
"Movie Magazine International" Home Page