Category Archives: 1970s
“One Toke Over the Line” was released in 1970. The title refers to exactly what you think it does. That didn’t stop Lawrence Welk from introducing the song as a “modern spiritual.” He was either hopelessly clueless or knew exactly what he was doing. As a bonus, Richard Nixon’s vice president, Spiro Agnew, hated the song because he felt it was subversive.
McGurk: A Dog’s Life is so bad, it’s easy to forget that it’s producer, Norman Lear, is responsible for All in the Family and The Jeffersons. The show manages to have no redeeming qualities. The pilot episode is 22 minutes dedicated to McGurk thinking he’s dying. Keep in mind that A Dog’s Life has all of the actors in bad dog costumes and is supposed to be a sitcom, which it manages to be because it sure as hell isn’t a drama.
This masterpiece starts with McGurk talking to the camera explaining his morning routine. Every joke ends with the punchline “I’m a dog.” He can’t tell time. Why? He’s a dog. Any show starring anthropomorphic animals standing on two feet and speaking English gives up the right to make jokes about their species. For all intents and purposes, they’re just people with dog ears and tails, which makes it disconcerting when McGurk refers wants to please his owner.
In 1977, David Letterman was still a struggling standup comedian trying to break into television, which is the only way to explain why Letterman would ever take part in the mess of a pilot that is The Riddlers. Unless you’re a fan of David Letterman, perpetual b-list game show guests from the 70s, or things that are so bad, they’re good, The Riddlers is not worth watching.
The Riddlers‘s pilot has many things wrong with it. The most obvious are several format flaws. First, there’s the fact that Letterman is almost useless. The contestants are reading the riddles to other members of their team. The Riddler‘s doesn’t need a host and it doesn’t deserve on as good as Letterman. He exists solely to read the rules and repeat questions that have already been read. While it is necessary to repeat questions every now and then, no game show needs a dedicated echoer.
As if a built in redundancy isn’t bad enough, the starting team is almost guaranteed to win. The problem isn’t that the object of the game is to answer 9 riddles correctly. It’s that the losing team from the previous game starts the new one and keeps control of the game until they get an incorrect answer. It’s entirely possible for a really good team to win the game without the other team ever answering a question. The only reason that doesn’t happen in the pilot is because Joyce Bulifant isn’t too bright, which she has also demonstrated multiple times on Match Game, so it’s not like she was having a bad day.