Week 2 with Andy Griffith, 12/1/1972 (Third Season)
So we skip way ahead to Season 3 for this episode. Sonny & Cher sing The Lovin' Spoonful cover of "Do You Believe in Magic?" Cher did a much more mellow version on her 1968 album Backstage. Check out the study in eyeliner that is this video version. In their opening dialogue, Sonny covers his Detroit roots and Catholicism. All the while, I can't help but wonder what direction Sonny is hanging in those white pants.
Cher does the solo medley of "Sonny Boy," "My Mammy" and "Rocka-a-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody" that we've come to love from her 1973 Bittersweet White Light album. In this TV version, she looks androgynous in a suit and tie. Where is her hair under that short wig??
In the Vamp sketch they talk about Cher as a royal floozie and a common tart. The GetTV version skips the Cultural Spot sketch and Andy Griffith singing “Something Bigger Than You and I.” They did air "Headlines in the Paper" which is just a quick one-liner collage on current topics. I can't get into it.
The In Concert duet is an awesome one, Sonny & Cher singing Mac Davis' "Baby Don't Get Hooked on Me." I love this song. I love their version. Cher again wears the afro-extension wig, big earring hoops and they use those awesome, white 1970s mics and sing with such sincerity. I love it!
Mac Davis' version.
Week 3 with Danny Thomas and Telly Savalas, 9/19/73 (Fourth Season)
Late into this show they changed the animated intro and added Chastity who paints a subway scene. These subway intros showed mostly men riding into work, (with the exception of a female guest or Teri Garr). This skit makes a Lebanese joke on Danny Thomas' behalf and a Greek joke on Telly Savalas' name.
Sonny and Cher sing “I Couldn’t Live Without Your Love,” the Petula Clark song from 1966. Sonny is wearing a distracting amount of Italian jewelry bling, including the Sicilian horn and what looks like an Italian flag, along with some dramatic sideburns. Cher's eye makeup is great. She's wearing great earring hoops again and does some awesome hair flips. Sonny makes a Tiberius Bono Roman joke. They've started to cut up the opening song with short skits before the break point of the dialoging. I have to say I've always hated this (even as a little kid watching). It's too much song cut up. It feels chaotic and the skits are rarely worthy of any song interruption. Unfortunately, they ended up keeping that break-up formula for their divorce show.
There's a Civil War Confederate piece that's a play on sex roles: after a tearful farewell with Telly Savalas, Cher pounces off to battle in her Scarlett O’Hara dress. Cher, as Barbara Nauseous (is this a slam at Barbara Walters? And if so, why so harsh?), interviews Telly Savalas about posing nude in “women’s lib” magazines. Ahh, the 70s. They were so quaint with words like "lib" and male nude centerfolds. I do a spoof on this phenomenon in the centerfold of Cher Zine 3.
By now, the Vamp sketch has been replaced by the Lady Luck series. Here's an example of Lady Luck. The song is awkward in its low parts and so flat in comparison to the Vamp song. The series scope is also much more opaque. Plus this is just not a flattering dress. The S&C lore goes that in 1973 when S&C were fighting to the death Cher was depressed and getting thin. She is really thin in this episode. There's a Spanish skit with Cher in a very pretty traditional Spanish Senorita dress with a mantilla veil and Sonny playing a masked bandit. Cher also plays as old lady in a park and a jinked redheaded wife to Telly Savalas. Cher looks very thin in the housewife skit. In the green-screen finale where all these characters gather to sing the Lady Luck song there are three yellow-outfited characters, including Freeman King, who weren’t in any of the previous skits. WTF!
Sonny’s Pizza sketch is next. I'm hot and cold on this skit. Sometimes I love it. Sometimes I'm feeling eh. Sonny wears an almost-funny pizza clown outfit and Cher looks great in that curly wig and green eye makeup. The skits always feel so slow with lots of dead air between lines. I loved that pizzaria door, however, and wish I could find a picture of it.
The In Concert segment starts with their ceiling bank of lights being raised up. I love it when they do that! They sing the Temptations song "Get Ready. Here is The Temptations version. Sonny wears a tux and Cher wears a gold dress and an uber-short wig. Again, where is her hair?? Could it really all fit under that short wig? We even get a back shot while they sing. Her hair is not hiding. That drives me nuts!
They to a Love Story spoof where Cher gets kisses with boys from Harvard, Princeton and Yale and a preview of The Village People. More great eye makeup and she looks good but tiny in a preppy outfit.
There's a Laverne sketch, At The Laundromat. For all the banter, no washing ever gets done. Cher arrives, dumps a hamper, folds a thing, and leaves.
GetTV doesn't air Danny Thomas singing “If I Didn’t Care” or Cher’s solo spot (WTF) of the band Bread's sappy hit “If.” Interestingly, Telly recorded this song in the mid-70s. His spoken word version was produced by Snuff Garrett and reached #1 in both the UK and the Republic of Ireland in March 1975.
The closing segment is one of the best. Chastity thinks Cher is old and says she thinks Cher is 4 years old. Sonny, she thinks, is 6 years old. They all discuss who holds the baby and when: Sonny on the show, Cher at Kiddie Land. Sonnny puts Chastity down and says, “Ret goes to s much trouble to match your outfit to mommy’s” [meaning costume designer Ret Turner] and we all get to see she's wearing an adorable version of Cher’s pink dress. Cher picks her up and tries to tell a story about the time Chastity didn’t want to be a girl anymore. Chastity covers her mouth and they all laugh. They end with a very affectionate version of "I Got You Babe."
The world is a very mysterious and surprising place, no?
The Cher and Muhammad Ali Poem
Recently, in the service of art and literature, I decided to transpose the Cher and Muhammad Ali poem from the later Sonny & Cher show. Here it is with my commentary.
Announcer: Welcome, sports fans, to the Wide World of Poetry. Tonight we have a dandy [a shockingly dated slur against the masculinity of poets, a fob, a glamour boy…turn-of-the-century prejudice against men in the arts], the heavyweight poetry championship of the world.
Ali prepared by reading a rhyming dictionary and listening to a Rod McKuen album. McKuen died just last year. Cher Bono Allman prepared by sparing with Nipsy Russel.
Don Diphthong (Sonny) is the referee. [A Diphthong is a sound formed by the combination of two vowels in a single syllable like the word "coin."] Sonny says he will announce 15 rounds of poetry. Keep voices up and no iambic pentameter [five metrical feet, each foot with a stressed and unstressed syllable] allowed. In case of a pun [a joke exploiting the meaning of a word], go to a neutral corner. Shake hands and come out rhyming!
Sonny introduces Ali at 216 pounds of poetic power. The only man who actually did write a sonnet [fourteen lines, typically with a formal rhyme scheme] about an Easter bonnet. The Louisville Laureate, Muhammad Ali.
Ali: When a man sees you it on your nose he dwells.
It’s larger than Howard Cosell’s.
Cher: You know they’re filming your life story and there’s really no cause.
Cause it’s been on the screen once and they called the film Jaws.
Ali: I love your show and I admire your style.
But Cher, your pay is so cheap I won’t see you for a while.
Cher: You know I’m glad you turned to acting and writing.
Because my daughter could punch out those bums you’ve been fighting.
Sonny: Keep it moving. Watch the meter [the rhythmical pattern in a line of poetry].
Ali: I view your face each day although I’m not an admirer.
I always see your face on the National Enquirer.
Cher: You know when you’re through fighting what will you do then?
You can’t be a ref cause you can’t count to ten.
Ali: That remark you just made was lower than low.
Just like the ratings you got when you had your own show.
Sonny: Good one Muhammad.
Timeout: Ali reads a book; Cher files her nails.
Cher: You know they say you’re a giant from Maine to Montego,
but you’re really a shrimp with a six foot three ego.
Ali: You think you’re so smart but I’m gonna tell you something that’s funny.
It don’t take much smarts to be smarter than Sonny.
Sonny: Hey, that’s a low blow Muhammad. Not complaining.
Cher: You just got a divorce and one fact that’ll amaze you,
alimony can hit harder even than Frasier.
Ali: I changed my name once and they said I was a scamp
but in changing one’s last name, I believe you are the champ.
Cher: You know that last fight with Norton was rampant with friction,
did you win that fight or was that science fiction?
Cher: You know you’re not like you were in the old days, mister.
You float like a hippo and you sting like my sister.
Cher: Your next fight with Forman they’ll call you the broom
cause old George will use you to sweep up the room.
Ali is knocked out. Sonny counts One, two, buckle my shoe. Three, four, close de door, five six pick up sticks. [English nursery rhyme from 1805]
Cher has won and agrees to a rematch but says Ali will have to beat Marie Osmond first.
Ali says she was in great condition. I never knew she had such great couplets [this match was in couplets, two lines of verse of meter and each line joined by a rhyme]. I was dancing, I was on my toes for the first four rhymes but the she hit me with a left quatrain [a poem stanza of four lines]. I was expecting a classical dactyl [meter consisting of one stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables; ex: tenderly]. But then she came in with an anapestic [meter consisting of two short unstressed syllables followed by one stressed; example, the word "understand"] roundelay [a short song with a refrain; famous examples]. I want a rematch. I know I can beat that Marie Osmond.
[This was some effective acting by Ali who pretend to be out-of-breath during the fight.] Watch the video.