I love America….I’m not ashamed to say it…For as long as I can remember I have been consumed with all things American, and as a child of 70’s TV there is really no surprise.
As much as I respected and enjoyed the comedy stylings of your Benny Hill’s, your Dick Emery’s and even your Morcombe & Wise’s, who could really resist everything cool that was coming from across the Pacific.
How could you not have loved the Fonz and the Happy Days gang, even if they were a little like The Archies! Happy Days and its subsequent spin-offs, Laverne & Shirley and Mork & Mindy kept us amused and entertained right through the late 70’s. The night Fonzie jumped the barrels in the carpark at Arnold's on the Fearless Fonzarelli episode in 1976 will live in my memory forever…. Then there were the crazy medicos from MASH… Who among us wasn't transfixed by the lives of Hawkeye, Hot Lips and Frank Burns?? TV commercials screamed out to me, ‘You need Uncle Sam, you need Uncle Sam, let’s get together with the stars and striped can….’ I had Uncle Sam toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, I was devastated I couldn’t use the aftershave!!
I was learning what’s not cool from The Brady Bunch, and yes Marcia was the ultimate 70’s babe. But then I discovered the buxom Loni Anderson behind the desk at WKRP In Cincinnati, she was in a different league, she was Burt Reynolds missus and he was the Bandit!! Outwitting those damn Smokies in the coolest car in the world. All my friends and I were at Frontline hobbies buying scale models of the Bandits Trans Am.
Evel Knievel was at his peak and on my TV all the time, I had all the toys and loved the big old Red, White and Blue #1 on his bike and leathers. KISS WAS music, nothing else mattered in 1977, and they were everything that epitomised America. KISS meets the Phantom is still the best worst movie of all time!! Sure Kenny Everett was silly and amusing while flying the flag for British comedy at a time when the alternative was the likes of The Two Ronnies, and The Good Life, barely funny be comparison. Hoges gave us a dose of how good it was in Australia, and we had the odd cool show like Solo One, but we also had The Sullivan!
The Yanks gave us the Village People, who while showing us You Can't Stop The Music, were also teaching us tolerance despite us being too young to know, much like the dude in Dr Hook’s creepy song. Gabe Kotter was shooting sharp one liners back at the Sweathogs, putting them in their place while at the same time battling the grumpy Mr Woodman. Barney Miller was keeping his cool trying to control his crazy 12th Precinct cops. McGarrett was calling out, ‘Book him Dano, murder 1’, Sam was keeping Endora and Darren apart, Jeanie was getting Major Nelson in no end of trouble, and looking really sexy at the same time! Steve Austen and Jamie Summers were amazing us with their Bionic powers, Charlies Angels were just amazingly cool, BJ & the Bear were rolling on to Dallas, where JR was wreaking havoc and teaching us greed can be dangerous but lots of fun. And every Saturday morning World Championship Wrestling kept us transfixed.
So where would we truly be without the US of A?? I know people bemoan the loss of our culture, and a lot of what comes out of America now is hardly inspiring, but the 70’s were a different time, and the balance old England with the brave and exciting new world of America shaped my generation. Movies, music, Coca-Cola, McDonalds, the Colonel and so much more, So on one hand I say ‘Australia, don’t become America’, but at the same time thank you Uncle Sam for shaping my childhood with your wonderful TV….