Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Scanning the Netflix movie titles, there was one called Evacateur, that was suggested for me. I gave it look after reading the description. It was about an old talk show host I remember from two years out of my life around the late 1980s. I'm talking about Morton Downey Jr. I'm talking about the Morton Downey Jr. Show.
I learned a little in the documentary, but mostly it brought back some fond memories. This last weekend I found myself You-Tubing some of it, or, a lot of it. Sitting back, smiling, enjoying the extreme histrionics, controversy, shouting, and minimal violence.
I remember his show would sometimes come on after a Mets game (WOR-9), or after we'd be done playing video games, or before skinamax, at a friend's house. I was into the WWF back then, and this program was a talk show version of that. Downey stole from Wally George (The Hot Seat ~ which we occasionally caught too), but Mort's approach was a bit more sophisticated in set design and show format (though that isn't saying a lot).
This weird genre of a "conservative" man of the people, tackling the "evil lefties" (commies even, it's the Cold War remember), and standing up for America through forceful thoughtless debate, obscenities from time to time, and name calling seemed to a formula for success in the 1980s. It played well to kids my age, and looking at the crowds of both Downey and George you can see a good number of either college students or young adults.
Most of us like characters, I think. I know I do, and Mort was one. He had a style, and a flair. He loved cigarettes, wore red socks, had big teeth, he was cocky and he didn't take shit. He had no problem getting in the face of his opponent. That's what fed the crowd and that's what made us smile, whether we agreed or not. It was engaging on a simplistic level.
Sitting in my desk chair last weekend, watching full episodes streamed through the net, of questionable quality, I remain engrossed, drawn into it. Partly for nostalgic reasons, but also for it's ridiculousness. Wally George and Morton Downey Jr. were both pioneers of a format that has changed a bit, but lingers on with a few talk shows around now.
Thankfully, I don't watch TV like I did back then. We move on.
The devastating car wreck you watch night after night will cease to be entertaining.
But, for that brief moment, something was there.
Posted by Steelpotluck at 4:18 PM