Variety may be the spice of life, but on TV these days , if it's not the kiss of death its likely to be the kiss that cancels. Whether the public has tired of the formula--you know, the guest, the song, the skit, the duet-or whether the hosts and hostesses aren't what they used to be when we were a pup--these are moot questions. What isn't so moot, however is the overriding matter of the present day generation gap-which, transulated to the TV audience, isnt a gap, apparently its a canyon. Appeal to the old folks, a la Julie Andrews, and you'd be likely to be canceled because you don't appeal to the young fry. On the other hand, fracture the fry, a la Sonny and Cher, and the next season the same fans all seem to have--well, other fish to fry.
When Mr.Darin's show came on last year as a summer replacement, we told you it would never make it past the summer. Well, we can't always be right, can we? Anyway, Mr. Darin has come back,and his show is a lot better than it was last summer. It is frankly out to stop the yap about the gap and try to appeal to everybody. And surely by now you know how we feel about shows trying to appeal to everybody--they usually appeal to no one except Mr. Nielsens 12-year-old twins. Still, we like this show. Now that doesn't mean we love it or that we haven't seen some episodes which, when it comes to rerun them, will find us rerunning too--in the opposite direction. But Mr.Darin has more going for him this time out, for which credit should go not only to him but to his imaginative team of producers, Saul Ilson and Ernie Chambers.
Mr. Darin is kind of a cross between an older early Frank Sinatra and a younger later Dean Martin. His song repertoire is liberally (or should we say conservatively?)sprinkled with oldies. One show gave us "I Get a Kick Out Of You" and "Climb Every Mountain"; another gave us "Artifical Flowers" and "Hello, Young Lovers". Mr. Darin's guests too are no spring chickens--witness the premiere Burl Ives and in another show Sid Caesar. Mr. Darins duet with Mr. Ives of "Hi Lili, Hi Lo" was corker dandy, and Sid Caesars imitation of a fly was the best solo comedy since --well, Sid Caesar. This show, incidentally is big on flies, because in that same Caesar show Mr. Darin and Charlene Wong did a lovely job on "There Once Was A Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly". Miss Wong has become a regular and if there was ever a girl for all ages it's Charlene Wong--at age 8 and a half, if you please.
Mr. Darins regular skits bridge all gaps, too. Our favorite is his Groucho Marx takeoff. Our next favorite is his "Old Neighborhood" with Dick Bakalyan. We're less fond of "The Godmother" and "Dusty John Dustin", but then maybe they're for our grandchildren. There's one thing we're still against and that's salutes. This show has already saluted New York, Chicago and San Francisco. Couldn't it just do a salute to salutes, and then now that peace is come , give us a permanent peace salute?
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