Saturday, March 13, 2010

How to dismantle a TV bomb

I tweeted this earlier today, but it's worth a mention here as well: Ken Levine found video of one of the most extraordinary moments in TV history, in which Jackie Gleason followed up on the disastrous first episode of his game show "You're in the Picture" with a live, on-air apology.

You will never see anything like this on TV today. Too many people making too much money under too much scrutiny for anyone to so publicly fall on their sword like this. But you watch Gleason apologize with such charm, eloquence and comic timing, and you understand exactly why his nickname was "The Great One."

15 comments:

Doug S said...

Fantastic, love "Chock Full O Booze." He just oozes charm, even doing the jarring live L&M ad.

Kathy said...

I never cared for Jackie Gleason in the Honeymooners but loved this. I was watching the clip with my earphones on and laughed out loud so many times that my husband finally demanded to know what I was watching! Thanks for sharing.

Jessamyn said...

He is completely infectious. I agree, I like him so much better here than in The Honeymooners!

Anonymous said...

I've never wanted an L&M cigarette so badly...

Anonymous said...

Does Marriage Ref leaving in Ricky Gervais' extended musings that it was the weirdest show he's ever been on count as apology by proxy? I disagree with Alan's premise a little in that I can certainly imagine Jerry Seinfeld going on Leno and borrowing Gleason's schtick after MR ends. Then again, I can also imagine NBC following up Marriage Ref with a 3D version of You're in the Picture.
Interested, Jerry?
-anonymoose

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Alan. He really was The Great One. Seriously funny and more truth than we'll ever get from Leno.

Andy L said...

I am amazed that L&M would want to be associated with the show after such a bad premiere.

Annonymoose: Forget Ricky Gervais' rant about it being a "weird" show. Pretty sure they used that in the advertisements. The one I am amazed they left in was Larry Davis asking "Is the show over yet? I need to use the bathroom" 20 minutes in.

Glad that was the second episode, so I can stop acknowledging that the Marriage Ref exists.

sean said...

Someone over in the Ken Levine blog comments section pointed out this clip of Gleason on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson discussing the show. It's a really good little segment and funny to see him with the same great charm.

Here's part 1

click here to watch it on youtube

Alan Sepinwall said...

I disagree with Alan's premise a little in that I can certainly imagine Jerry Seinfeld going on Leno and borrowing Gleason's schtick after MR ends.

Certainly, we've seen actors go on talk shows and apologize for previous failures (though I think Seinfeld is too arrogant and too convinced this is a good show to admit it here), but what Gleason did was different. He effectively canceled his own show after a single week, then was able to take over its timeslot to deliver a prolonged, live, public apology for the big steaming pile he had unleashed on the audience. And that will never happen again.

Chalmers said...

There wasn't the same type of bloodletting (because the original hosts, Robert Hughes and Harold Hayes were fired), but "20/20" did tear the whole show down and started again after a horrible debut.

Ostiose Vagrant said...

though I think Seinfeld is too arrogant and too convinced this is a good show to admit it here

From his interview on The Daily Show, I'd say it's pretty clear that's exactly his thought on the show. Also he bluntly stated that the show's humour was derived from laughing at the problems of others
(the couples), which is actually what most of the "haters" find most offensive/condescending. So it's clear where he stands.

Still love Seinfeld the sitcom and his turn on Curb but I'm not going anywhere near The Marriage Ref.

Jim said...

I don't get The Marriage Ref. Has Seinfeld pissed away his money? Jason Alexander is doing Jenny Craid commcercials with Valerie Bertinelli.

Maybe they really did invest with Madoff.

Anonymous said...

I dunno he just seems like an old timey hack comedian. What did he say during this little speech that was actually funny or charming?!? I didn't crack a smile once.

Tom said...

Thanks for the link! Great stuff. I especially liked Gleason's description of the pitch meeting where he fell in love with the show's horrible premise. I can just picture a Pete Campbell and a Paul Kinsey setting it up flogging the hell out of it.

Geoff said...

"Chock Full O Booze." WOW. Both hilarious and horrifying at the same time. Gutsy stuff, sir.

My favorite Gleason story is actually one from Don Rickles, when he mentions his favorite performance EVER was having Jackie show up in the middle of his set, grab a table and chair, and sit down right on stage and stare at him while he did his roasting. "Make me laugh."

On The Marriage Ref, I'm glad Ricky had a little touch back to his Extras finale where he decried the blatant ridiculousness of celebrities being shoehorned into situations they didn't belong.

It speaks to the weakness of the show where they need "special celebrity guests" each week to increase audience draw.