April 9, 2012

Why the '70s were lame

Sated with cherry crumb pie and cheesy potatoes, all we could do was lie in bed flipping the channels. We came up the Hub channel which was showing pilots of ‘70s sitcoms, including “Mork and Mindy,” “Happy Days,” and “Laverne and Shirley.”
The pilot of “Mork and Mindy” was almost unbelievable. Here is one of the funniest men on the planet—Robin Williams—with the debut of his own show (he had a cameo with Henry Winkler aka “Fonzie.”)
The corn-fed Pam Dauber “Mindy” runs into Mork after a date has gotten too fresh and steals her car. Mork landed in the Colorado wilderness in a low-tech egg against a background of that kind of music you hear before Godzilla rises up from the ocean in an old horror flick.
Mork does all kinds of strange things, like wearing a man’s suit backwards which makes him look like a priest. When Mindy tells him to sit down, he puts his head on the chair with rear end straight up. Mindy says, “It’s not nice to sit on your face.”
According to the bastardized encyclopedia Wikipedia (meaning I’m too lazy to find a real source), “The series was extremely popular in its first season. The Nielsen ratings were very high, ranking at #3 behind Laverne & Shirley (#1) and Three's Company (#2), both on ABC, which was the highest rated network in the US in 1978.”
Wow! That’s an accomplishment coming in right behind “Laverne & Shirley” and “Three’s Company.”
Watching thirty minutes of this sci-fi meller-dramer sitcom, husband and I looked at each other and said, “What we were thinking?”
Still stoned on strawberry pretzel jello salad, we talked about all the things of the ‘70s that defined us and the things that did not define us, those who managed to be born late in the Baby Boom era.
The ‘60s had counterculture marches, civil rights, Martin Luther King Jr., and we had streaking.
The ‘60s gave us the Stones, the Beatles, Janis Joplin, Dylan, and we had “Disco Duck” and The Captain and Tennille.
The’60s had presidents Kennedy and Johnson and a victory in the race to the moon. (Why “Not because it is easy, but because it is hard, said JFK.)
The lame decade gave us presidents Nixon and Carter, both of whom had memorable exit strategies. Nixon vanquished off to California, while Carter grits his large white teeth in a limo on Reagan’s inauguration day knowing the hostages in Iran won’t be freed on his watch.
The burning question of the sixties was “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” while we angst in the seventies over Rod Stewart’s “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?”
Those of us coming of age in the middle to the end of this decade remember its biggest gift, if one can call it that. Like today’s young people, we were faced with a recession, high gasoline prices, and lack of decent jobs. Our older brothers and sisters who graduated from high school in the sixties could count on going into a nice manufacturing job out of high school with union wages and lifelong benefits.
While Broadway also suffered in the lame decade (there was no “West Side Story” or “The Music Man” on the Great White Way in the ‘70s), Broadway legend Bob Fosse directed his own story “All That Jazz.” The musical contains a song that seemed appropriate to ponder as hubby and I reviewed the good, the bad, and the ugly of the ‘70s. Indeed, “everything old is new again.”