Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Hard Night's Watch

"Clean up, aisle 6."

CBS partnered with the Grammys on Sunday night to do a two-and-a-half celebration marking to the day the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.   Or once commercials and CBS promotions were removed, make that an hour and 46 minutes.

Once again, this was train wreck television at its best.  Or its worst.  Admittedly, I tuned out at the one hour mark because it was a lot more compelling to watch Maggie Smith come down with bronchitis on "Downton Abbey."  And even in that condition, Dame Maggie would have sounded a lot better warbling "Yesterday" than that idiot Katy Perry.

Of course, that was the major problem with this show.  The same malady that plagues most of television.   The producers aren't putting it together with the home audience in mind.   No, they are doing it solely for their own edification.  And the amusement of the participants, whether that be the modern day artists doing lousy cover versions of Beatles hits or the Hollywood A-listers who don't like to miss a bash like this.   After all, there is an open bar, right?    There were so many self-indulgent shots of Tom Hanks and wife Rita Wilson boogeying in the aisle that I was convinced her cousin was directing in the control booth.

What the hell did they have to do with the Beatles?  Or, for that matter, any of the musical clowns that appeared.  Most of them weren't even born in 1964.    A few of them probably think Ed Sullivan is a host on Fox News.  Or some simply haven't been seen for years and that's with good reason.  Annie Lennox butchered some Beatles number and looked like her make-up had been put on at the Frank Campbell Funeral Home.  Meanwhile, Stevie Wonder was trucked inexplicably one more time and he shows up at the opening of an envelope.  At least, they tell him the envelope is open.  Had the producers of this swill really wanted to make a jolly they should have had him cover "I Saw Her Standing There."

It is amazing how something so loud could be so lifeless.  One by one, today's musical stars plodded onto the stage to mangle a Beatles song.  And there in the front row were the constantly-nodding-with-approval Paul and Ringo.  It had the look and feel of one of those American Idol theme nights.  Oh, and let's not forget Yoko Ono who managed to photo bomb every time the camera was within fifty feet of her.  Meanwhile, she's now wearing dark drink coasters in front of her eyes.  It's as if her life now is one big, long appointment with the optometrist.  Okay, Yoko, can you read the third line now, please?

They wheeled out CBS' late night pervert, David Letterman, to do an interview with Paul and Ringo.  Of course, his main connection to them is that he just happens to be sitting in the same studio as the old Ed Sullivan Show.  But, that was probably close enough for CBS.  It's the kind of misguided logic that TV always seems to relish.  Let's face it, if the Oscars ever move to NBC, you can be sure that Bob Costas will wind up as the host.

When I tuned back in for the ending, Paul and Ringo were reuniting in song on stage.  Neither has sounded remotely decent for about twenty years now.   I saw McCartney in concert back in 1994.  His voice was shot then.  I figured his career was about as warm as last Sunday's Yorkshire Pudding.  Yet, people still flock to him in droves every time he goes on tour.  These are the fans who don't hear what he sounds like now.  They are simply replaying 8 track memories in their heads.  The utmost in sensory perception  But that can be easily overlooked. After all, isn't it remarkable that he can still open his mouth that wide after three face lifts??

But, after all, the 1964 Beatles live on stage didn't even sound like the Beatles.  I mean, who could hear them anyway with all the Clearasil-laden kiddies screaming in the balcony?  Let's face it, the Beatles sounded best when they were doctored up in vinyl.  Even with the glorious hisses and pops of the 12-inch platter.  And while we're at it, we saw only slight glimpses of what happened on TV that night of February 9, 1964.  As a historical record, this was merely the Cliff Notes.  And, oh, by the way, there was virtually no mention of what really got the Beatles going in America.

Radio airplays.

There were countless ways in which this celebration could have better.  Make it a look back in history.  Find as many people as you can that were there that night.  Strike the Letterman set for a week or so and do the show from that same theater.  Put the Beatles in the proper perspective of what was going on in this country at the time.  There was so little of that.

And so damn much of Tom Hanks and this missus twisting the night away.  As if any of it had anything to do with John, Paul, George, and Ringo.

Dinner last night; Sandwich.

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