Saturday, November 3, 2007

Pink Typhoon

I think we can start here.

I know, I know. Not only is this the first and probably only time I've heard anything about Here's Boomer, but the prospect of The Facts of Life being a "new series" is so strange to me that it's funny. (Also, please note the presence of Molly Ringwald among the show's main cast before her character, whose name is also Molly, was blinked into obscurity.) Then, of course, there's the show that I'm focusing on in this post: Pink Lady, which before it was cancelled was better known as Pink Lady and Jeff. It featured comedian Jeff Altman — of whom I'm only aware otherwise as being one of the lesser Hoggs on Dukes of Hazard — and the Japanese pop group Pink Lady side-by-side, Tony Orlando & Dawn-style.

Yes, the name of the band in which two ladies don't always wear pink is Pink Lady, singular. I suppose Pink Ladies would create associations with Grease, though, so I can forgive this bit. Believe me, the group's name is small potatoes compared to the staggering weirdness that's going on here.

I learned of Pink Lady and Jeff only after seeing it listed on the Chicago Tribune's list of the 25 worst TV shows of all time. (Also dinged: Petticoat Junction, Small Wonder and My Mother the Car.) The purported suckiness of Pink Lady and Jeff stemmed in part from clunky jokes and the fact that singers Mie and Kei spoke almost no English and had to learn their lines and lyrics phonetically. You can't really tell, at least, in their cover of "Boogie Wonderland," as they sing with appropriate funk levels and in accents no worse than anybody else who didn't grow up speaking English.

Occasionally, however, they'd give these poor ladies a break and let them sing one of the songs that made them such a huge hit in Japan. Like this below performance of "Monster," in which Mie and Kei dress up like Captain EO.

They seem like they're having more fun when they sing in Japanese. I'd place their sound somewhere between the B-52s and The Go! Team, which might help explain why American audiences weren't too interested in Mie and Kei's antics, Jeff Altman or no Jeff Altman. Shortly into the run of Pink Lady and Jefffive episodes, according to IMDb — the show was canned by NBC. Mie and Kei trudged back to Japan, with only the fawning love of millions of fans to comfort them, and the once-omnipresent variety show format sputtered and died. Eventually, Mie and Kei shed their Pink Lady personas and returned to being Mitsuyo Nemoto and Keiko Masuda, the names under which they had successful acting and solo singing careers.

But that's not to say Pink Lady and Jeff can't be remembered for being not just a colossal failure but a flamingly colossal failure that emits multicolored rays of lights and can be seen from well beyond the Shizouka Prefacture. Personally, I can't wonder how life might have ended up if this show were the one to run for nine seasons instead of The Facts of Life, perhaps even incorporating Mrs. Garrett and Tootie after the hypothetical demise of Facts. Pink Lady and Jeff stands as a testament both the astounding weirdness that can result when American and Japanese pop culture collide and to network TV's desire to capitalize on quite possibly anything it can. (Come to think of it, in light of the looming TV writers' strike, I wonder the ladies of Pink Lady might be asked to clear their schedules on Monday and head back to our shores.)

On that note, I'm leaving you with one last bit by Mie and Kei: their Japanese hit single "UFO," which they also performed on the show in their native language. Between the green-screened space opera backgrounds and the back-up dancers who look like extras from Xanadu, you have to admit that, if nothing else, it's a spectacle you wouldn't have thought would have been aired on prime time.

1 comment:

  1. As a HUGE Pink Lady fan, I want to thank you for putting this up. There can't be enough.