Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Hee Haw: 1969-1992, Part Fifteen...

As RFD-TV continues to air Hee Haw on Sunday night at 8pm (with a repeat airing the following Monday at 10am), the series has progressed into the 1973-1974 season. Sunday night's episode, originally broadcast in early 1974, was the last episode of the 1973-1974 season. It starred Lester Flatt with sporadic appearances by the other guest, Hugh Hefner. In addition to Lester Flatt, the rest of the music was provided by the show's regulars: co-hosts Roy Clark and Buck Owens plus Gunilla Hutton, Buddy Alan, and a song from the Hager twins. Marty Stuart fans should get a kick out of seeing that particular episode because Marty's featured in Lester's band. At that time Marty was 15 years old! These performances of Lester Flatt, for those who want to view it, are on You Tube at the moment. Marty's vocalizations are featured in the "Bluebirds are Singing For Me" and he plays mandolin, as I mentioned, on that performance as well as the earlier performance, "Salty Dog". I've embedded the performance where Marty is heard singing...

Sandwiched between all of this were the sing-a-longs with the cast and the recurring comedy sketches. Archie Campbell, in a few sketches, wore a bunny suit while trading one-liners with Hugh Hefner. There was a storytelling segment with Tennessee Ernie Ford which I assume had been taped well in advance due to the fact that he wasn't mentioned as a guest in the opening. He appeared in this form of sketch in several other episodes, too. Stringbean usually appeared as the headliner of this storyteller sketch, which always began with him announcing that he'd just received a letter from home, but for a series of episodes in late '73 through early '74 Tennessee Ernie Ford headlined this newer segment. The 'letter from home' phrase was only used during the sketches that starred Stringbean. The reason for this is explained in the 1996 book, Life in the Kornfield: My 25 Years at Hee Haw, from Sam Lovullo and Mark Eliot.

In the early '80s Grady Nutt would headline a similar sketch where he'd tell humorous stories with a religious overtone. In each of these various storyteller sketches a small collection of cast-members would be seated down in front...sitting either on crates or on bales of hay while the storyteller was often seated on a larger hay bale, elevated from those who were hearing the story. Whenever Jerry Clower guest starred, his appearances were taped in this fashion, too.  

Monday, January 7, 2013

Groovy DVD of Goolies...Groovie Goolies...

In this blog entry I'll be writing a little about a certain cartoon series that was airing on a local channel in my area when I was a kid. I'm a child of the '80s, pretty much, as I've written about in other blog entries. By the time I was old enough to really comprehend and remember the programs on television, in my younger days, it had to have been 1982/1983 at the earliest when I was around 6 and 7 years old. One of the cartoons I recall seeing is Groovie Goolies, which is a horror-based cartoon series closely associated with the children of the '70s who saw the reruns on Saturday morning TV. My oldest sister is who found the Groovie Goolies and so that's how, in the early 1980's, I was exposed to the cartoon series. I wasn't attentive enough to fully understand the cartoon other than it's look and the catchphrase uttered by the Frankie character. That phrase was often repeated by my father many, many times after he'd have an accident while working on something outside or inside the house. The phrase, "I needed that", said in a slow Karloff inspired voice, was the thing that stuck with me about this cartoon as the decades went by.

On the DVD cover you see the three main characters: Drac, Frankie, and Wolfie. Each of the characters is a late '60s interpretation of Count Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster, and Wolfman. The program was set inside a facility known as Horrible Hall. The series was patterned after Laugh-In, a hilarious program hosted by Dan Rowan and Dick Martin in the late '60s through the early '70s which featured a large ensemble cast with one-liners and recurring sketch characters. The comedy program was the #1 television program for a couple of seasons and at that point in time it was the most imitated comedy program...which is what typically happens in the aftermath of a hit series...the airwaves become dominated by copycat shows. The most famous program to draw inspiration from Laugh-In happened to be it's country counterpart, Hee Haw. Whereas Laugh-In was dominated by topical jokes and so-called 'hip' cultural references and an occasional guest from a current TV show or movie, Hee Haw went in the other direction with intentionally corny jokes and southern references. The biggest difference is Hee Haw employed an ensemble cast of musicians, comedians, and country singers and had at least 2 or 3 different guest artist's on the show each week. Laugh-In often went just for the laughs with the surreal style of humor that had come to dominate mainstream comedy at that point in time. The Groovie Goolies didn't follow any plot and there wasn't any story arc to speak of and so for those cartoon fans who champion story lines and character growth you'll more than likely be disappointed in a series like this. Each episode consisted of a couple of songs as well as various recurring sketches and one-liners delivered from an area in Horrible Hall drawn to be a spoof of Laugh-In's joke wall with all the characters popping out of the walls and up from the floor to deliver jokes laced with puns. The voice cast was rather small but when you factor in the voice talents that the show had you'll understand why there wasn't any need for a larger cast. Howard Morris could be considered the star voice of the show since he did nearly all the main characters (Frankie, Wolfie, Mummy, Hauntleroy). Jane Webb did all of the female voices (Hagatha, Sabrina, Bella La Ghostly). Larry Storch was the voice of Drac and several others and then you have Larry Mann (Boneapart), Dallas McKennon, and John Erwin supplying voices, too.

I purchased this DVD in late 2006 when it was brand new and have often re-watched the cartoons around Halloween season. The project features all 16 episodes from the Groovie Goolies series on 3 discs.