Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Classic TV Variety Show Blogathon The Paul Lynde Halloween Special (1976)

I should probably make a full confession here: I used the Classic TV Variety Show Blogathon as an excuse to finally sit down and watch The Paul Lynde Halloween Special. I'm not going to lie, I've had a copy of this curiosity for years, which I probably picked up in the back of a Lincoln in a parking lot in Des Moines. OK, I made that up (but it sounded intriguing, right). I most likely bought it because it had this garishly green homemade cover and starred Paul Lynde. I'm sure I thought it would be all edgy and transgressive.

Edgy and transgressive? Sure.
Here is another confession (and probably a bit more shocking): I had a pretty mad crush on Lynde back in my pre-pre-teen days. Yes, I was about 7 and he was hilarious. Therefore, I was to marry him. I sort of forgot about that crush and moved on to guys who were just as unattainable, but in a different way (if you know what I mean).

Match Game vs. Hollywood Squares!
Confession #3: Some of those memories of my love of Paul flooded back during my viewing of this Halloween Special, only now I was a bit freaked out. Am I the only one who notices that thinly veiled anger lying just beneath that smile? Yikes.

He's plotting to kill us all
In Paul's defense, I know he had his problems, but I'm sure starring in this odd, somewhat unfunny special probably did nothing for his disposition. He seems far less angry when he's playing Uncle Arthur on Bewitched, you know, because it's actually funny. I don't blame him for feeling a bit out of sorts on his Halloween Special, which aired exactly one time on ABC on October 29th, 1976. It was a crazy variety show that featured a wide array of talent including KISS (perfectly suited for the show and definitely the best part), Roz Kelly (how I love my Pinky Tuscadero, whether she's going on a shooting spree or not), Betty White, Tim Conway (wha-?), Billy Barty, Florence Henderson looking kind of good in jodhpurs, and strangely enough, Donny and Marie Osmond. It was produced by retro kiddie show favorites Sid and Marty Kroft. The Kroft Brothers brought along Witchiepoo (Billie Hayes) from H.R. Pufnstuf and, in a neat bit of casting, Margaret Hamilton who was the infamous Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz, plays Witchiepoo's sister. Together they cook up some weird, almost hallucinogenic scenarios for Lynde to joke his way through.

Holy Cow Pinkey!
My favorite part is the oddball truck driver bit, if only because Roz Kelly looks friggin' stupendous in her waitress outfit!

Somewhat less stupendous
The Paul Lynde Halloween Special was a fairly sought after curiosity before it hit the legitimate DVD world in 2007. Aside from the surreal nature of the whole thing, it was probably of most interest because it marked KISS' first appearance on TV. It was pretty awesome too. Say what you will, but man, when Peter Criss belts out Beth... swoon time. That's all I'm going to say.

If I had never seen the Telly Savalas variety special Who Loves Ya Baby, I probably would have thought Paul Lynde's entry was the weirdest of bunch, so at least there's that. Or something.

Yeah, right! 
This review is part of the Classic TV Blog Association's Variety Blogathon. Please click here for a list of the other blogs that participated.


Unknown said...

The first time I saw Paul Lynde, perform was in Bewitched..

I never heard of, The Paul Lynde Halloween Special. After reading your fun review, I will see if I can find it on you-tube..

Classic Film and TV Cafe said...

I had never heard of this special, so your post was a delightful surprise. Paul Lynde was a unique performer, which worked both for and against him. In small doses, he could be hilarious and he & Elizabeth Montgomery worked together wonderfully on BEWITCHED. But his snarky persona certainly limited his roles. As for the guest cast on this special, what an eclectic bunch! Still, I was hoping you would mention a Peter Criss-Florence Henderson duet....

Joanna said...

Now looking up the Telly Savalas "Who Loves Ya Baby" special! Thanks for this great post!

Mitchell Hadley said...

Boy, this is disturbing on so many levels, isn't it? :) I've heard a lot about this show in the past, but never with such extensive information. Thanks for shining the spotlight on it!

Citizen Screen said...

In all its weirdness I am now dying to see this! I love Paul Lynde - primarily for his Uncle Arthur on Bewitched but also all those moments from Hollywood Squares. He was the funniest ever on that! Also, that's a hell of an eclectic list of guests! Oh the joys of classic television! Great entry to the blogathon!


Michael's TV Tray said...

Love this! I was so glad to see you were blogging about it. Witchiepoo and Margaret Hamilton together were a special treat. Sid and Marty Krofft were already working with Donny & Marie and the Brady Bunch on their variety shows at that time, so that explains their presence.

Ryoki said...

Saw this when it was aired,I was 16. It made no sense to me at the time and it still dosen't.

Not that I don't like it. It's just so weird in a way that only 70s TV could produce.

FUN FACT! This is the only time other then 'The Wizard of Oz' that Margaret Hamilton appeared in the witch make-up.

Anonymous said...

Actually KISS's first tv appearance was in 1974 on the Mike Douglas show.

Amanda By Night said...

Hi Anon, Thanks for the info. Maybe what I read wasn't clear and they meant KISS's first Prime Time appearance on TV. Either way, thank you for passing along the info. I miss Mike Douglas so much!