Friday, June 09, 2006

Pink Lady & Jeff - The Worst American Sitcom About Japan Ever

Tonight I learned something new.

I learned that television can get worse than I ever imagined.

I also learned that when TV gets that bad, it suddenly turns good.

Case in point: Pink Lady & Jeff. It could perhaps be the worst TV show of all time. Sterotypes are in full effect. Check that link for more info.

This clip is interesting in context. It looks like it's the former stars of Pink Lady looking back on their show with some of the comedians from Cocorico.

I'd love to know what they're saying. Do they think the show is bad now? Do they regret the dresses? What are they saying about the samurai guy with the horrible hair?

Whatever. Awesome is served.

this wasn't a sitcom, it was a "variety hour" ala Sonny and Cher's show or the Donnie and Marie Show. it was terrible. I rented the dvd and I couldn't watch more than about 10 minutes. Pink Lady didn't know english, so comic timing was pretty out the window.
The clip comes from "Hey! Hey! Hey! Music Champ", Fuji TV's long running music show, and it looks like they are doing a rememberence show for Pink Lady. Pink Lady was insanely popular duo in Japan in 1976-1978, and served as the template for the Idol Boom of the 1980s and the current crop of idols and taruentos.

One of the things that they are talking about in the clip is how they had to change their image for their attempt to make it in the US in 1979. In Japan, their popularity was largely built on being very girlish (even though, as noted in the clip, Mei and Kei were 20 and 21). However, the promoters who tried to bring them over, decided to give them a more grown up image. I suppose Japan was starting to come back into American consciousness at the time; Yellow Magic Orchestra released their first album at this time, and songs like "Turning Japanese" and "Sukiyaki" were coming out.

That still doesn't excuse Sid Caeser in a bad wig and a terrible accent. Is it any wonder that "Pink Lady & Jeff" is considered the worst show of all time and part of the nadir of NBC? Thankfully, it was only a summer replacement program.
That's not Cocorico (Endo and Tanaka, I think) but the much more famous pair, Downtown (Hamada and Matsumoto).

Wasn't Sakamoto Kyu's Sukiyaki (ue o muite, arukou) a hit in 1963 or so?

"Sukiyaki" was indeed a hit for Sakamoto Kyu in 1963, the only Japanese artist to hit #1 in the US. I was thinking of the English A Taste Of Honey cover done in 1980. The band did it as a tribute to their popularity in Japan.

BTW, the last Japanese act to have a top 40 hit in the US was... Pink Lady ("A Kiss In The Dark", peaked #33).
Can you find the rest of this clip? Matsumoto is tearing them to shreds and I wanna see more (anonymous #2)

Just some incidental information about the show.

In an fairly recent interview, Jeff Altman commented that he thought that Mie and Kei were fantastic and very cool, their manager was one of the biggest jerks he had ever met. Aparently, when the girls tried to act "cute" in segments or interviews, the producer would scold them reminding them that they were to be "sexy" and not "childish."

Because they did not speak ANY English were able to perform the lines with the assistance of a speech coach... which, as Judge Rage has cited, wrecked any comic timing they may have had.

"Pink Lady and Jeff" is cited as the program that lead to all three of the major networks moving away from variety shows. In short: Pink Lady killed the Variety show in the US.
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