Biases of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (and Museum)

Contrast3

As I've been reading academic books on pop culture, I come across some interesting things like this most interesting essay, “The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum: Myth, Memory, and History by Robert Santelli from the book Stars Don't Stand Still, Music and Myth.

Now, I didn't know Santelli when I started reading the essay and I appreciated the first paragraph:

“Depending upon your point of view, the Cleveland-based Rock and roll Hall of Fame and Museum is either the music’s official house of history—the place where one can find proof of its artistic and cultural merit—or as triangular-shaped glass temple that has more to do with myth and mass consumption that the real story of rock ‘n’ roll.”

Santelli acknowledges the “vigorous discourse” about the two points of view. Note here that he calls the institution a Hall of Fame AND museum, and here surmises it might be a "house of history." More on that point later.

He continues,

"The skeptics’ fear that institutionalizing rock ‘n’ roll would kill the music’s present and future and trivialize and compress its past into neat, carefully packaged modules was not to be taken lightly….After all, rock, by its nature, has always been chaotic, incorrigible and anti-institutional.”

So I'm somewhere with these skeptics. A canon of taste-makers creating an in-circle is very antithetical to the idea of rebellion in art, but Santelli has a point that doesn’t stop folk and fine art museums from canonizing rebel painters, sculptors, writers, etc.

But then Santelli dismisses all the skeptics with one sentence: “No one explained, mind you, how rock’s integrity would be violated…No critic came forth with any anarchic alternative worth recalling.”

This dismissal is so vague, essentially saying 'no challenges were worthy' and the use of the phrase “mind you” sent up a warning flag to me that maybe this guy was affiliated in some way with the hall of fame.

Ah yes, we get to page two where he admits he was “a member of the curatorial team.”

He would be biased then. But I still wanted to give him a hearing. He spoke about the museum needing to be “free to make mistakes” and that they wanted to not be that guy who creates “a myth-plated story of the music and its most famous artists that is often shallow, vague, fractured, exclusionary, and nonrevisionist.”

Unfortunately, "exclusionary" and "nonrevisionist" are two words that come to my mind when I consider this museum.

So I wondered what happened? Well, the essay goes on to provide answers.

Early curators worried that

“without any standard historiographical references, there was no way to know for sure if we had gone too far, forging, for example, our own ideas on rock’s role as a countercultural force in the sixties, or assigning values to certain artifacts, or giving one artist too much credit and another too little[me: or none] in shaping the music. Even more importantly, how could we be certain that we separated myth from truth, when so much of what passes as standard pop music history is suspect?”

This is a place to start from, for sure. So what happened?

It turns out maybe the bias was in the homogeneity of the early team. And maybe this is a homogeneity that persists. 

Santelli says, “Jim Henke, the museum’s newly appointed chief curator, assembled a team of music journalists to act as consultants, most of whom he had worked with or who had worked for him when he was music editor at Rolling Stone."

Wow. I was not prepared for that. So it might be fair to call this the Rolling Stone Magazine Hall of Fame. How shocking that one magazine would be so influential in the trajectory of a supposedly unbiased hall of fame institution. I mean, this magazine was never the only point of reference in the industry, right? Anyway, maybe unintentionally, but surely effectively, a Rolling Stone point of view prevailed to set standards and practices for inclusion and exclusion to the lists.

Santelli admits that “each of us owned entirely different interpretations of events, artists, and albums, despite the fact that we were all approximately the same age—late-thirties to early forties—…had been at many of the same major concerts, knew intimately the so-called classic-rock works…”

Ok. That’s not good either.

He goes on to say that “Rock ‘n’ roll, like America itself, is a multicultural, multidimensional maze. The museum, it was agreed, ought to reflect this.”

It’s fascinating to me that this group of people, all from essentially the same social group, is surprised by their own diversity but clueless as to the limits of that diversity. Rock criticism is male-dominated and it's no wonder the roster is as homogeneous as it is.

He takes pride in the non-chronology of the flow of the museum, where an exhibit of The Allman Brothers Band could be situated next to one for Alice Cooper…

“the Allman Brothers Band demonstrated its importance as a musical unit minus theatrical histrionics, like those that made Alice Cooper’s show so exciting in the early seventies; yet an Alice Cooper exhibit, complete with stage props and costumes, was positioned just a few feet away, as if the two were somehow thematically linked. Such a chaotic, “unruly” approach to rock history was spectacularly effective in breaking apart myth and convention and challenged the visitor to rethink his view of rock history—perhaps the museum’s most important accomplishment to this point.”

Contrst2Aside from all the self-congratulations right there, it’s maddening to imagine this, if you will, an exhibit of Gregg Allman (minus those "theatrical histrionics") [oh my blood pressure] situated right next to a CHER exibit (“complete with stage props and costumes”) positioned just mere feet way as if, not somehow but f*#king actually, those two acts were physically linked in some way, like say a concert they did together in 1978 or Allman’s appearance on Cher's TV show in 1975. I’m not talking about a relationship here. I’m talking about products and performances. If Alice Cooper and Gregg Allman were linked romantically, that’s beyond the scope of the Hall of Fame surely. But actual rock shows, record albums and TV segments…

Imagine that!

Oh…my…God. The same reasons they use to glorify Alice Cooper (creative theatrics and costumes) are used against more feminine acts like Cher or Madonna or ad nauseam. I’ve also read quite a lot of rock history in the past 6 months and everybody seems to agree that an Alice Cooper show was mostly image and artifice and show biz. I actually think he would agree with that assessment.

Related: this week I saw a great documentary about the cross-influences of Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and David Bowie called Bowie, Iggy & Lou 1971-1973: The Sacred Triangle. Bowie’s Contrast1Ziggy Stardust creation is described by one commentator as pure image. The commentator said the music could as well have been Elton John songs. [They love to dismiss Elton John too]. The music didn’t matter. The show was about the image-making.

Ignoring the contributions of women artists in image-making is selective history.

First of all, a Hall of Fame is by definition an establishment institution, asserting itself as THE authority figure. When you become the authority you set yourself as an opposing force to rebellion. This is why establishments respond to challenges to its authority. Practitioners of any rebellion will necessarily happen outside of the establishment. Which is an irony of any art canon. It abdicates its identity as rebellious and should be aware of its own new bias.

Of course I’m not the first person to kvetch about these hypocrisies in canon-making and the double standards for men and women inductees. The best example I’ve read to date is “Across the Great Divide: Rock Critics, Rock Women” by Barbara O’Dair (also in Stars Don't Stand Still, Music and Myth), who points out how most rock and blues histories have eliminated the stories of women artists. She also describes the push-back received in attempts to correct this from rock music institutions, like Rolling Stone. A quote from her essay:

“But while male fans and critics may say it’s okay for Mick Jagger to wear eyeliner or Kurt Cobain a dress, identifying with actual female rockers appears to be a much Tourpostergreater leap for most men to take. It’s interesting to note, for instance, that the male fans Joni Mitchell and Madonna boast seem to be disproportionately gay.”

My feeling is it takes balls to buck gender conventions. So those who do it, do it. Those who can’t, don’t.

On the way to my Aunt's funeral last weekend, Mr. Cher Scholar, a student of the NMU museum studies program, was asked by me to explain the differences between a Hall of Fame and a museum and it seems the curatorial aim of each would be entirely different.

A museum tells the history (by both big and small players) and a Hall of Fame simply celebrates the most successful, which is not a history. It would seem an insurmountable challenge to curate for both things at the same time. But I guess that's the least of it.


Cher Scholar Digs: Mad Magazine, 1967 Interview, Moonstruck

Cher-mad1

The picture to the left is Cher reading Mad Magazine in the mid-1960s,

So I've been organizing Cher loot during the Great Shut-In and I'm finding some good stuff....and some not-so-good stuff, like this Mad Magazine spread from March of 1973, which is ironically exactly where we're up to in cataloging the TV episodes

Mad Magazine loves to take the piss out of popular things. So the tone of this isn't surprising. I don't tend to enjoy their sense of humor, although I enjoyed Spy vs. Spy as a kid. There's another clipping I once ripped out of one of my older brother's 70s-era issues that had a predictive age-progression for Cher's face. It was wildly inaccurate (looking back as it assumed she would never change her hair style) but I remember feeling a sense of dread about it (and not just because I destroyed a possible eBay sale from my brothers' future). I'll post it here if I come across it.

Here is the comic I was able to locate online. Click the thumbnails to enlarge. Prepare to be underwhelmed.

Funnyglare5 Funnyglare1 Funnyglare2-5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Funnyglare3 Funnyglare4-5 Funnyglare4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


I think part of the un-funnyness is knowing that the premise of the critique (Cher being a bitch who pushed Sonny around) was based on a tragically false assumption. I also think this is a macho response to an emerging feminist subtext occurring in this show. And I'm not just trying to be an academic wonk. (Liar!) This kind of response sort of proves that something unnerving was happening. It's like that disturbing quote from Chris Hodenfield in the 1973 Rolling Stone piece where the author's male friends were hoping Sonny "beat the shit out of her with a tire iron" which was also a macho-Rolling Stone-reading male response to seeing a woman (a wife, no less) like Cher on television daring to act assertive and critical when, at most, macho male audiences were used to seeing only the challenges of tentative but cautious characters like Marlo Thomas' Ann Marie or Mary Richards or Gloria on All in the Family. And then there's Maude. Look, Cher isn't even included in the list: https://www.thoughtco.com/sitcoms-of-1970s-3529025. But she got this kind of blowback. Why was that?

InsidepopThere's an interview with Sonny & Cher in the book “Inside Pop” book by David Dachs (1967). The most interesting parts describes a Cher modeling shoot for Vogue and calls out the uniquely packaged deal of Sonny being a writer, producer, provider of arrangement ideas (if not fully the arranger), music editor, and the one who chooses the master. The author says they were able to keep a lot of their royalties this way. The article also states that in his pre-music-biz life, Sonny was a masseur. I wonder if Cher got free massages during their time together. The interview also references Sonny's early compositions including “Koko Joe” Larrywilliams2 and “You Bug Me Baby," recorded by Larry Williams, which I first heard on my local oldies station a few months back.

There are also lots of mistakes in book: describing Georganne as Armenian, completely misrepresenting Sonny & Cher's age difference.

The author calls them an ingratiating couple and talks about their upcoming planned movie Ignaz (never came out)  and says the movie was concerned with “mind expansion.” The author finally concluded that they “aren’t all 'camp' and kooky clothes.”

What a hip word to use. Susan Songtag's essay "Notes on Camp" had just come out in 1964.

Moonstruck

I found an old local newspaper from when I was living in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in the year 2000. The American Film Institute had came out with this list of the funniest movies of all time.

Moonstruck is #47.
https://www.brainerddispatch.com/news/3372065-some-it-hot-tootsie-top-list-100-funniest-american-movies


Television Share Through Time

ApperDuring the Great Shut-in of 2020 I've been working on organizing my Cher stuff. Mind you I haven't done this since before I moved to LA, which was in 2002. So I've got a mess of stuff from the last 18 years! I'm finding some good lost things about which I will surely blog.

This is the first article I pulled out, "Heres to the Death of Broadcast" by James Poniewozik (Time Magazine). There's a breakout box in the article called "The Small Screen Get’s Smaller" and it depicts percentages of households watching CBS prime-time benchmark shows over the decades.

Although it stops in 2008, it's a fascinating comparison between what The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour was getting in comparison to American Idol.

Years Most Popular Show on CBS Percentage Watching All Networks
1952-53 I Love Lucy - 67% 75%
1962-63 The Beverly Hillbillies - 36% 55%
1972-73 All in the Family - 33%
(S&C were at most 20-23%)
56%
1982-83 60 Minutes - 26% 51%
1992-93 60 Minutes - 22%  37%
2002-03 CSI - 16% 22%
2007-08 American Idol - 16% 18%


See the decline? Which has undoubtedly increased now with our streaming TV options like Netflix. Even though The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour and other Cher-related shows of the 1970s weren't in the top 5, they were still drawing more people than today's most popular shows.

 


Cher in Suberbowl 54 (with Bill Murray)

Jeep3This year's Superbowl was pretty exciting this year considering Mr. Cher's Scholar's team, the Kansas City Chiefs, won after 50 years of not winning.

So it was a rare occurrence of not only Groundhog Day falling on a Superbowl day but also a rare occurrence of my celebrity obsession coinciding with his sports obsession.

There were two commercials for Jeep that resurrected Bill Murray's famous role in the movie Groundhog Day, both which included location and full scene recreations, including the scene where Bill Murray wakes up hearing Sonny & Cher's "I Got You Babe" playing on his radio. Both commercials played the Sonny & Cher song throughout the ad.

Early in the game a shorter commercial appeared and then in the 4th quarter, the extended version played where Murray walks around the town, (his brother also reprises his role as the mayor), then breaks out of the story upon discovering a Jeep and joyriding around with the Jeepgroundhog in tow. As the days repeat, it never gets old. 

In the longer ad, the full song plays. Murray even sings along to the song as he drives along. He actually sings this: "There aint no mountain we can't climb...in four wheel drive!"

Watch the ad.

More about the ad:
https://tvline.com/2020/02/02/bill-murray-groundhog-day-super-bowl-commercial-2020-video-jeep/

And a video blogger talking about why it's great and how challenging it was to arrange and pay for: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7NqfEVMC74

Jeep2Turns out it was the USA Today Superbowl ad fan favorite:
https://adage.com/article/special-report-super-bowl/jeeps-groundhog-day-commercial-wins-usa-todays-super-bowl-ad-meter/2233626


The Baby Thing (The First Nine Months is the Hardest)

A new show cropped up on Amazon Prime recently that no fan I know had ever heard about, no biographer had ever written about or obscure list mentioned. I've come to call it "the baby thing."

Amazon Prime has been including some great old 1970s material lately, like all the Tattle Tales episodes and Paul Lynde’s Halloween Special and now this Sonny & Cher special from 1971. Most fans I’ve spoken to have never even heard of it, let alone seen it; which begs the question: what else is out there that we don't know about? Anyway, many thanks to Cher scholar Michael for alerting me to its existence.

The show is called The First Nine Months are the Hardest and Amazon lists the air date as 1971, but a few fans tell me it looks like it was filmed much earlier judging by how Sonny and Cher look.

And there is a lot of Sonny & Cher here doing skits and singing songs. I can't help but think this show might have helped sell TV execs on their ability to do a variety show.

The show is hosted by Dick Van Dyke (who I love!) and includes outfits by Bob Mackie (which seem oddly pedestrian for him) and an Emmy nominated score by Ray Charles. Whaa???

Cher scholar Robrt dug up an earlier non-musical version directed by Carl Reiner in 1964.

The show features three real celebrity couples. Michele Lee is lovely and amazing and her husband James Farentino is nice on the eyes but doesn't really pop out. Ken Berry and his wife Jackie Joseph are typical Broadway fare. The other couples have oodles of talent for sure, way beyond Sonny & Cher in song and dance ability, but somehow Sonny & Cher have such an interesting chemistry in comparison. They steal the show.

The tone of the show is a bit weird, nostalgic and retro even for 1971, as if its trying to convince bra-burning women to settle down. But really, it's all about the gas-company sponsor promoting fears in new mothers in order to get them to want to switch from electric or coal to “clean gas.” But aside from that, this is a gem of a new find for Sonny & Cher fans.  

Check it out on streaming from Amazon Prime. In the meantime, here's the play-by-play of the show (at the least the parts where Sonny & Cher appear).

Continue reading "The Baby Thing (The First Nine Months is the Hardest)" »


Cher in Show Biz 2020

ChertimeI went out looking for collages of Cher through time and turns out there are a ton of them! This was the best.

Anyway, I have a bunch of random thoughts today and couldn't figure out what umbrella to put them under. This is all about Cher in show-biz.

The Pop Star Crisis

My friend Christopher sent me this older article from 2017 from the Wall Street Journal. It's about an identity crisis with today's female pop stars. The article contains interesting statistics about what’s selling on streaming these days (R&B and hip-hop) and what’s not selling as well (rock, pop and even country is declining).

The article gets under my skin a bit when it talks about “the pop playbook” being unpredictable (you think?) and when it mentions that women are criticized for hosting hip-hop artists on their albums but male artists are not. (And the difference would be?)

And it confounds me that in the post-Cher and Tina Turner era music execs are still saying things like Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus “may simply be past their hit making primes.” My friend Christopher tells me that female artists still disappear at the ticking time bomb of middle age! Oy. 

The 1% of Touring Acts

Here is another older Wall Street Journal article from Christopher about how large arena acts are eating up all the concert $$$. And due to the fact that streaming is making record-making less lucrative, smaller acts depend on concert revenue.

It feels so much like large corporations swallowing up their competition.

In any case, to consider Cher in this 1% list is downright bizarre. If you would have told me back in 1980 that Cher would be one of the 1% of popular touring acts in the late 2010s, I would have thought you were a crazy person. This is the artist who has been on a zillion record labels with a disproportionate amount of bomb albums and a bad reputation with just about everybody from hipsters to squares. Which is why it drives me nuts when people accuse Cher of being a mainstream artist. Where is this mysterious stream?

And yet, the people do come out to her shows in those ginormous, block-sized buildings. 

How. Did. We. Get. Here???

Although Cher is not listed as one of the highest grossing acts of the 2010s, she is named as #11 for highest grossing in 2019, ahead of Mumford & Sons, Michael Bublé, Paul McCartney, Garth Brooks and Ariana Grande. And I'm sure all of those acts are more popular than Cher is.

But why am I complaining. This is great. Finally, right? I’m actually very conflicted about it. Popularity: good. Monopoly: Bad.


Gary-jerryEvil Geniuses

I recently came across a clip of Gary Lewis (of Gary Lewis and the Playboys) and his father Jerry Lewis singling together on the show Hullabaloo. That prompted me to look up what kind of relationship they had. As it turns out, Gary and all his siblings from Jerry Lewis' first wife were all disinherited (as a group!) and Gary has called Jerry Lewis "a mean and evil man." I don't know how Cher really felt about Jerry Lewis but I've read he was always nice to Cher on her variety shows and she seemed to like him. She's never came out with any trash talk about him in any case. Mr. Cher Scholar, like a large population of the country France, considers Jerry Lewis a comedy genius.

Likewise, Cher had no rough encounters with the homicidal Phil Spector, holding her own against his in-studio verbal taunts. Many consider Spector a producing genius of the early 1960s.

And that reminded me that Sonny’s running mate for the Palms Springs Mayoral race once called him a “mean little Italian.” Others have mentioned difficulty working with Sonny too, but Cher enjoyed working with Sonny. She even seemed to forgive him for his egregious business scams involving Cher Enterprises. Her beef with him concerned mostly personal marital and control issues. And on a recent Good Times movie DVD, the director William Friedkin called Sonny an unqualified genius. And although this is maybe not a popular view of Sonny, I would argue he was probably a promotional genius of the scrappy kind. A lot of his ideas about career longevity and independent/guerrilla promotion were before their time by at least 30 years.

And all these things taken together, you might wonder if Cher has a high tolerance for dysfunctional male geniuses.

Cherjerry Cherjerry Cherjerry


Thinking About the Cher Biography

Cher_oscars_6_a_h

Before I forget, Cher performed at the finale of this season's Dancing with the Stars. I don't know who won. I don't watch that show unless Cher or her peripherals are on it. But USA Today reported on Cher's appearance on the show. I found it striking she appeared on a 2019 show singing a 1967 song or rather she sang her own 52 year old song.

Dwts2019

I've been thinking recently about Cher's upcoming biographical projects: the Cher musical to travel in 2020, an upcoming biopic and her autobiography. 

I don't know if her book is in the can but I hope it includes music and artists she was influenced by aesthetically, interior design influences (and other "hobbies"), records she loved (and what Sonny thought of them), movies she loved, what the big mistakes were, who helped in little and small ways, and maybe even some dish on a few dramatic kindnesses and large slights. 

I think about the evolution of the Katharine Hepburn biographies (aside from Cher, I've read as much KH), and she got really reflective and reconsidered some of her earlier stances on issues (like boycotting the Oscars) toward the end of her life and it felt very human and enlightening. Actually, Hepburn's last opinion on attending the Oscars helped me show up at a book awards event this year. 

While I was making one of my unsuccessful attempts to find Cher's copy of Marie Claire, I picked up a British film magazine that caught my eye, Little White Lies, the Judy Garland issue. (I've read a few JG bios too).

Anyway, I liked how the articles in that magazine described the aims of her recent biopic:

“There is no two-bit mimicry here, no over-rehearsed tics or obviously detectable plummy accent. Both [Rene] Zellweger and [the director] understand that overzealous imitation in this type of film only serves to drive a wedge between audience and material. The ten-a-penny peacock turns by up-for-it chancers doing their best karaoke so often drains a movie of nuance and credibility, as all the focus is placed on, what is, a pageant for paid-for narcissism.”

In another article in the magazine Zellweger says

“We feared that the more you veer away from what is authentically you, the less likely you are to connect with the person you’re representing.”

Ironic but true.

And here's a quote that I feel sums up something unique about Cher. In a recent interview, Cher was telling the story again about the theatrical trailers for Silkwood and nobody knowing she was sitting in the theater. When her name came up in the trailer, everybody laughed and how painful that was to experience. 

The interviewer asks Cher if she felt a strong reaction at the time, like "they're all wrong about me!" and Cher said no, it was an organic response. "I never argue with reality."

What a quote, huh?  

My friend Christopher alerted me to an old Entertainment Weekly review of Cher's album Love Hurts. Christopher says the magazine had just started when this review appeared. It isn't great at a B+ and takes so many attacks at her Geffen era that I almost feel protective of Diane Warren, Jon Bon Jovi and the decade of schlock rock:

"[This album] finds the warbler surrounding herself with the most formulaic hit songwriters alive (Diane Warren, Desmond Child). To boot, Cher has cannily stuck with the production style most lusted after by cynical radio programmers, stressing power chords that plotz all over the place, battalions of backup singers who scream their guts out, and keyboard blasts so resonant they sound like they were recorded in the Grand Canyon. Every song approximates that most reliably commercial of half-breeds, the part-rock, part-pop power ballad. So why, given this gluttonous buffet of calculation, is the album so much fun?"

Then going on to say,

“For all the fakery that surrounds her, Cher remains weirdly genuine.”

A common refrain of later-day Cher scholarship right there. What are the ingredients that made that?

  


Murder in Music City

Murder2So I finally had a chance to watch Sonny's 1979 movie, Murder in Music City, sometimes known as The Country Western Murders (I don't know where or why two titles were used or needed). And I never realized before now that this was an NBC TV movie. It aired on January 16, 1979.

Is it me or does his head look Photoshopped (or whatever they called it back in 1979) oddly to his body in that ad below. 

It opens with Sonny running from some bad guys. He plays a songwriter named Sonny Hunt (you hear two lines of a song) with a very spunky, likable girlfriend, a supermodel allegedly. They get caught up in a murder mystery because Sonny is so successful as a songwriter that he needs to put his money somewhere and his manager suggests a failing detective agency.

It could happen.

These two kids actually have chemistry and this would have been a better series, like a Hart to Hart. It's not as bad as you might think. Sonny does a pretty good job. He just doesn't have that elusive 'it' as an actor but this performance is far from embarrassing. The script was pretty much what you'd expect a TV movie in the 1970s to be. And considering this is Sonny's only starring movie role, it's worth a watch.

MurdersHe's shirtless multiple times. I should come up with a Sonny-shirtless-in-movies scale chart because he seems to be shirtless quite often in movies.

And remarkably (since this is a movie about Nashville after all), there are lots of country cameos including Mel Tillis (singing AND stuttering…I love me some Mel Tillis!), Barbara Mandrell (adorable per yush), Ray Stevens singing with Ronnie Milsap, Larry Gatlin, and an unrecognizable Charlie Daniels. Plus you get Morgan Fairchild, Claude Akins, Lee Purcell and that adorable character-actress Lucille Benson as the kooky secretary.

Even more remarkably, this flick was directed by Leo Penn, father of Sean, Chris and Michael.

The interactions between the country singers and Sonny are interesting and unusual. You had to wonder what everyone was thinking. Sonny was a fading hot commodity post breakup with Cher and their TV shows. You got the idea that Cher was more of a country music fan than Sonny (who was all R &B and Soul) and Barbara Mandrell was flying high on her hits "Sleeping Single on a Double Bed" and "If Loving You is Wrong (I Don't Want to Be Right)" and on the cusp of her own variety show. There's a hilarious interchange between Sonny and Barbara where his character doesn't know who Mandrell is. Okay, Sonny Hunt. 

The Thrilling Detective website had this to say about the movie:

Murder1“Full of logical inconsistencies (Sonny has to break into his own business), wisecracks that don’t so much crack as slither, and a slew of country music celebrity cameos that pretty much define “gratuitous.”

This is the 1970s. Gratuitous has no meaning here. And it was very funny when Sonny broke into his own business. Therefore a fan of Rifftrax, I submitted this movie for their astute consideration.


New TV Shows Available and More Reviews

Timelife2Time/Life has come out with a DVD set of The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, Cher and The Sonny & Cher Show. The site will lure you with an upgrade which is just a set of Laugh In shows they've probably been unable to sell. 

That said, Cher’s performances in the one episode of her guest spots included is wonderful, unseen Cherness, so much better than her Indian skit with Tim Conway found online from that episode. That might be worth the upcharge for you. It was for me but...

See the trailer for the DVDs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5Mcper-JcE&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR1Ap63YwwpRGDOXo98cTednBtRa3r6nEbH5QMENLShrcrMs6A17pDZZJzE

The 18 Episode set:  https://timelife.com/products/i-got-you-babe-the-best-of-sonny-cher

The 58 Episode set (not more Sonny & Cher shows though): https://timelife.com/products/the-best-of-sonny-&-cher-and-laugh-in

It is good we’re seeing Cher episodes available now. But these are mostly episodes we've either seen on TV Land or GetTV, with the exception of one episode with Jim Neighbors.

I would think we should get DVDs of at least what was Emmy Nominated from the show, including the lost-lost Cloris Leachman episode that won an Emmy. 

The booklet and packaging are great, great photos although not always in order  (especially for series 2) and claim Steve Martin would stop by with one-liners instead of come to work as part of the first show's staff. You get to see an early version of the Sonny & Cher bubble drawing. The interviews are also good.

I've also been making my way through reviews of the show and am down with Season 2: https://www.cherscholar.com/the-tv-variety-shows-and-specials.html


Catalog of The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour

CartoonSo a few years ago I started blogging about the Cher variety shows as they aired on Get TV. But Get TV was a major disappointment on many levels, which I've addressed ad nauseam in previous posts. Also then the world got very political and I was stretched too thin. And then last year and all its wondrous surprises happened. And so this year I've decided to try to cover each series in order (with episodes I've seen at least). 

I've started an archive about the show. I'll keep posting the episodes here and do a blog post when I get through each season. I've just finished the short season 1, which was interesting to see how they handled a small budget and the beginnings of all the recurring segments like VAMP, the fortune teller, Cliff House and what they called "the cultural spot." I've seen many of these episodes about 4 times now and have gone from thinking they were the best thing God ever created on earth to finding them excruciatingly dated to coming around to seeing cultural relevance in them.

It's been a journey.