Aug 20, 2012

That 70's Post

A couple of recent blog posts about growing up in the 1970s from a couple of my favorite writers (Erin O'Brien and Josh Wilker) really struck a nerve with me. Growing up as a kid in the 1970s was actually kinda fun! I mean it.

Sure, we didn't have all the fun that game with home video-game consoles, the internet or 935 cable channels (with nothing on). But what we did have was goofy and fun. And we dressed really awful, so we had that going for us as well. And the end of the Vietnam War, Watergate, Billy Carter, Nadia Comanici and all kinds of stuff that was just as fun. Or something.

That Josh Wilker article mentioned a television event that all of us children of the 1970s will recall with fondness. Battle of the Network Stars. This series debuted in 1976 with airings in May and either November or December for the next few years. As the title describes, this was an athletic competition between the stars of CBS, NBC and ABC. I believe they actually played for money, as opposed to current celeb-reality shows that play for charities, mostly.

 I don't really remember much from this show after the first couple of years, but oh how wonderful those first two years were! Telly Savalas (chain-smoking, gold chain-clad, red tracksuit) captained the CBS team, Robert Conrad the NBC team and Gabe Kaplan the ABC team. Believe it or not, these cats all wanted to win. Badly.

If you remember television from the 1970s with any fondness at all and you have 10 minutes to kill, please do yourself a favor and watch the video below. You won't be sorry. This is one of the dominant memories of my childhood. I'm not sure if I'm proud of that, but it is what it is.

Here's the setup: Telly Savalas protests an early baton handoff by the NBC team in the relay race on behalf of his team and the team from ABC. What follows is pure ridiculous. Robert Conrad loses his shit. Even throws in a joke about being of German ancestry and how his people want to kill Telly Savalas' and Gabe Kaplan's people (a Greek and a Jew). Nice going, Bob! The whole things winds up with Conrad and Kaplan settling the score in a man-on-man 120-yard sprint. It's incredible television.

My favorite moment? "Farrah baby, I'm not in charge of the rules committee!" - Howard Cosell (6:13)



Verdant Earl said...

There was something else about the 70s that I wanted to say here, but I've forgotten what it is. Because I'm a child of the 70s. Old. Sigh.

Kaye Waller said...

Wow! Wonder Woman kissed Gabe Kaplan. And you can't beat that "boom chicka-wow-wow" music.

Slyde said...

i used to love watching these...

my favorite moment? was during a tug of war and Juan Epstein from Welcome Back Kotter had to get medical attention for rope burn. I was riveted.

Verdant Earl said...

SK - There's another video from that same year with Lynda Carter and Adrienne Barbeau competing in a swimming event. Lynda Carter and Adrienne Barbeau circa 1976 in swimsuits. The mind, and other things, boggles.

Slyde - I think I kinda remember that. Wow! I know you have trouble with Youtube at work, so you have to try to remember to watch that when you get home.

Kaye Waller said...

I think it's safe to say, these shows were made before Insurance Hysteria set in.

Dr Zibbs said...

Telly rocked the bald head! What a bad ass!

Kevin McKeever said...

I can't believe Mr. Kotter smoked Conrad, who probably shouldn't have taken that drag before running.

Dude, we are so old.