October 3, 2016

They're reviving "The Gong Show."

ABC is "We are thrilled to add The Gong Show to ABC’s schedule spearheaded by the incomparable Will Arnett."

I've got to say I loved "The Gong Show" — back in 1976-1977. And I was able to watch it, even though it was a daytime show and we didn't have a Betamax back then. Almost no one did. I saw one in a rich person's apartment once around that time. It was gestured at as some kind of marvel. The thing was the size of a sofa cushion. We didn't even have a color TV. Why should we, when we were home futzing with artwork in the middle of the day and taking time out to watch "The Gong Show"?

Here's a NYT book review from 1976 by Christopher Lehman-Haupt that begins:
It's too bad Nick Lyons's “The Sony Vision” ultimately reads like a piece of company‐sponsored prornotipn [sic], because it isn't, and, what's more, there is so much about his subject that is intrinsically appealing. To begin with, there's the Sony product itself, which I myself happen to love in all its forms, from pocket transistor radio to Trinitron color television, for its design, its workmanship, its intricacy, and the sense it gives me that I am at the controls of my little corner of technology. (Amazing, when you consider how short a time ago the label “Made in Japan” was synonymous with junk.) If Sony's future success depends in part on the company's persuading people that they need its new Betamax video tape recorder, the machine with which you can record television shows and play them back at your leisure,. then I'm optimistic for Sony. I know I badly need a Sony Betamax, though I can't imagine just why....
That was 1976 — the year Apple was founded. We had no idea what design, workmanship, intricacy, and sense of being in control awaited us. Sony was wonderful. A Trinitron with a Betamax was the best you could imagine. And it seemed hip to watch "The Gong Show" on a weekday morning. Now, we've got iPads and iPhones and the controls to look in on everything in the world, any time, and, somehow, "The Gong Show" comes back.



(You've got to picture that in black and white.)

39 comments:

traditionalguy said...

America's got talent. Not very much, but some.

The performers who put it all out there are Jewish vaudeville redux.

EMD said...

We had a Betamax bequeathed to us by my grandparents. Never got much use. We migrated to VCRs pretty quickly.

Kate said...

I loved this show, too, although it was very, very stupid. If anyone can bring back the odd mix of humor that made this work, it's GOB.

mezzrow said...

I note the presence of presidential candidate Pat Paulsen on the panel, along with Pat McCormick and Jaye P. Morgan.

If Pat McCormick had been running instead of Paulsen, we'd have seen something much closer to our current Trumpian model in tone, as well as in content. It was a gentler time, in retrospect.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

They had to change the rules after one contestant got in and out before they could gong him.

IIRC, it was a singing cowboy with a guitar: "It's been lonely on the prairie since my horse died."

And done.

The judges were gobsmacked. Chuck Barris thought it was hilarious.

coupe said...

I bought a Trinitron for my girl friend. She would make smacking noises when watching it with food in her mouth, so I know she liked it. Sort of like my cat when he's watching birds through the window, he makes these smacking noises.

Then we found out the limitation of the Trinitron. We moved into a nicer apartment, and the mover dropped the TV onto the table. I mean dropped. I said, that's not a piece of wood you know?!

Yep, the colors were all off after that. I took it to a TV repair place (remember those?) and the guy told me that he'd have to replace the picture tube. Which cost as much as the TV did. I have it to Goodwill on the way home.

You see, Trinitron had one electron beam, not three like most TV's. So with other TV's you just realigned the three beams. The Trinitron had no adjustment. It was aligned at the factory.

I think the loss of the Trinitron was the downfall of our relationship.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

The internet tells me I misremembered.

Lonely or lonesome in the saddle.

That's even better!

Wilbur said...

Gene, Gene TDM was the best reason to watch. Not that he could dance well, but just the absurdity of it all.

tcrosse said...

And don't forget panellist Jamie Farr. Or the way the audience would clap along with Chuck Barris while he announced.

Comanche Voter said...

The Gong Show has already been revived. Did you see the first presidential debate between Hillary and The Donald? I rest my case.

Bob R said...

It was on in the Student Union when I was an undergrad. Pretty popular. Had an abstract algebra class where we had to get up in front of the class and work homework problems. The other students would gong you when you made a mistake. If I let my students do that now, I'd probably be fired. Macroagression.

rehajm said...

Crap. It took the better part of 25 years to get that song and dance out of my head. Now I'll have to start over...right after I watch that video 500 more times...

rehajm said...

It won't be the same without Chuck Barris. I recall a news show where he was spending his days tooling around St. Tropez on his Riva.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

With Apple, the sense of being in control was always a lie.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

EMD said...

We had a Betamax bequeathed to us by my grandparents. Never got much use. We migrated to VCRs pretty quickly.

Betamax was a VCR. You probably migrated to VHS.

TerriW said...

I really enjoyed Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. That and Moon made me a great fan of Sam Rockwell. (I guess I shouldn't forget Galaxy Quest.)

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

You mean at the next Presidential Debate?

richlb said...

It was always an internal battle for me between Gene Gene and Rerun from What's Happening as to who the better dancer was. I think we can agree that no matter who wins, we all do.

Side note: Chuck Barris is still alive! Who'da thunk it.

gspencer said...

The Gong Show is coming back?

With the Democrat Party it had never gone away.

FullMoon said...

Unknown comic "Chuckie, taste this!

Barris (spitting it out "THtat's gasoline!!"

U.C." I know that ! Regular or ethyl?"

dda6ga dda6ga said...

I thought the gong show was traveling with our current Sec of State...

Captain Billy said...

Ponder this:

Chuck Barris is the most famous graduate of Drexel University, then Drexel Institute of Technology

uffda said...

I loved the show where the camera stayed live a bit too long when going to commercial. Chick Barris kicked an obnoxious contestant's rear end saying,"Get off the stage a**hole."

madAsHell said...

They tried to revive the show in the late 80's as well. So, this is the third time around.

buwaya said...

Like all TV it will be purely political propaganda.
Shun all TV.

Even the BBC "Victoria" show has its PC moments, but to be fair this was more or less in character for the proto-SJW Prince Albert. But my wife likes it and the actress Jenna Coleman is very pretty.

I also suggest you shun the NFL.

damikesc said...

It'll be too snarky to be any good. I like Arnett a lot...but Chuck Barris was one of a kind.

MayBee said...

The movie "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" is fantastic. Althouse, have you seen it?

Howard said...

"That was 1976 — the year Apple was founded. We had no idea what design, workmanship, intricacy, and sense of being in control awaited us."

Bullshit. YOU were clueless. I guess you never spent time in tomarrowland in the 1960's. No wonder everything new and useful gets either invented, transformed or popularized in California.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

One of the few shows TV had worth watching. Almost enough to sign up for cable/satellite again.

Almost.

Popville said...

+1 re: not being the same without Chuck Barris.

Virgil Hilts said...

I second the references to Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Moon as great movies. I would be surprised if Ann has not seen and, if she has not, confident that she would really like them.


tim maguire said...

I'd forgotten how incredibly drunk the judges were. Every night.

Janette Kok said...

I read a rather poignant novel in the 70s by Chuck Barris, called You and Me, Babe.

The thing I remember from the Gong Show was the stand-up comedian with a paper bag over his head. I think he was called The Unknown Comic?

Carol Burnett did a Eunice and Ed sketch where Eunice went on the Gong Show, seriously thinking she might hit it big. Eunice and Ed were funny but so very sad.

Wilbur said...

Here's an interview with Murray Langston, The Unknown Comic: http://classicshowbiz.blogspot.com/2015/06/an-interview-with-murray-langston.html

An interesting website if you're interested in entertainers from way back in the day.

Scott said...

If it was 1975 and as big as a sofa cushion, it probably wasn't a Betamax -- it was a U-Matic, a 3/4" format introduced by Sony in the early 1970s. Betamax wasn't introduced in the USA until November 1975, according to the interwebs.

Danno said...

I remember my family getting a several year old RCA color tv (our first color tv) from my aunt and uncle when they upgraded to a Sony Trinitron.

Maddad said...

Cocaine was a helluva drug.

Also, as a kid, I remember watching this in the early evening. My mother and her four sisters knew Chuck Barris from High School and we never missed it. After I read his book, I could never look at my mother the same way again.

JAORE said...

And the entertainment industry,once again, shows how they are unable to develop original ideas.

southcentralpa said...

"Prornotipn" is obviously promotion. Weird, you normally only see odd typos (presumably artifacts of the scanning process)like that which they leave on public PDFs that they don't want people to be able to easily print it in book form (you'll also see a lot of weird spacing).

The Gong Show Movie is worth seeing, if nothing else as a time capsule of sorts from the 70s

I remember one of the books about Sony v. Universal mentioned that sales of the Betamax were goosed when one of the networks moved Kojak head-to-head against Columbo, and so people had to pony up if they wanted to see both.