Saturday, January 10, 2009

When Did America Lose Its Ambition?

[Vintage TV Geeking] There was a time when ABC was so ambitious that it produced its own 90-minute movies. Now, I kinda like Ugly Betty--its writers are making a valiant attempt to court the gay viewership despite the fact that they are too busy snorting blow or whatever to bother educating themselves about the genuine camp aesthetic. (Note to writers: All this queeny wrist fluttering can't, by itself, cut it. To acheive true campiness, there must also be a bizarre juxtaposition and a nerdy reference, cleverly phrased. Your cool friends at Sushi a Go-Go won't get it.) Still, I really enjoy watching America Ferrera; she's sweet and earnest enough to carry any dog of a script.

But, man! Back in the day, ABC could produce an entire feature film starring Brian Keith, William Windom and Juliette Prouse--carrying a socially responsible Marxist message!

Don't forget: There were many ABC Movie[s] of the Week that had real cultural impact. Brian's Song made a nation cry, while Trilogy of Terror was so freaking scary it emotionally damaged a generation of kids who, to this day, love Karen Black but can't stay in the same room with an African fetish carving. The series won a Peabody and five Emmys.

In those pre-Reaganomics days, America was on its way What the hell happened? Has it taken us 40 years even to begin recovering?

OK, to tell the truth, I posted this not for its political implications, but mainly because I'm enamored of the aesthetics of the ABC Movie of the Week bumper. Not only was the music by Burt Bacharach, it was produced without CG, using an optical "slit-scan" technique--which viewers might recognize from the psychedelic penultimate scene in Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. The lettering is set in the ultrachic Peignot typeface, which we warmly remember vertically replicating itself in rainbow colors at the beginning of the opening credits of the Mary Tyler Moore show. (Damn, that font did some fun tricks in the 1970s!)

Of course, the ABC Movie of the Week was later replaced by the ABC [Monday, Tuesday, ..., Sunday] Night Movie which--even though it signaled the end of socially valuable nighttime broadcasting, had a beautiful, disco-riffic bumper. It makes me happy every time I watch it:

(Brandon Burt)

1 comment:

  1. So wait, I'm supposed to be pissed at Reagan for someohow ending these shitty movies of the week? Never mind that Reagan could not have done such a thing if he tried, but honestly, you miss these sub-standard atrocities?

    There's always the Lifetime Movie Channel for morons like you.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.