Saturday, March 17, 2007

Gotta Travel On

Here's a clip of something you rarely see on television anymore: people enjoying themselves. It's either a pilot for a variety series or a musical special called THE JERRY REED SHOW. I'd say it was from the JERRY REED WHEN YOU'RE HOT YOU'RE HOT HOUR (a great title for a TV series), but that aired in 1972, and you can tell by the wardrobe that we're in 1975 or '76 territory. Plus, Reed and Burt Reynolds didn't act together until 1975's W.W. AND THE DIXIE DANCEKINGS (um, yeah, a great title for a movie, what of it?), and they obviously knew each other well by the time this show was taped.

The clip is of Reed, Reynolds, Tammy Wynette, Ray Stevens and Jerry's daughter performing "Gotta Travel On' on this television show. I guess it's sorta kitschy and easy to laugh at, but I think it's worth evaluating the way I alluded above. These entertainers are having a really good time. They're laughing and singing and goofing around. Maybe it's goofy, but they're obviously talented performers (even though singing wasn't Burt's strong suit), and they are having fun entertaining us. I just don't think there's very much on television these days like this. I'm not saying that TV is completely joyless, but even the comedy shows and the occasional musical shows are closely scripted and polished and edited and stripped of anything spontaneous. Some of it is quite funny and entertaining, but there's something...quaint...about the concept of a bunch of entertainers standing before a live audience, working without a script, having a good time with each other, and not worrying about looking foolish or what their publicist is going to say.

I suppose I've made way too much out of this two-minute clip, but even though there's much to admire and enjoy about the ways that popular entertainment has progressed, I think we've lost a lot too.

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