Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Celebrity Bowling (1971-78)

A friend at the day job recently asked me if I’d ever seen Celebrity Bowling?

Yea, I said, I used to watch it all the time.

Have you ever seen it recently?

What do you mean recently?

They then told me that someone (S’more entertainment) put out a couple of DVDs that collected some of the shows. They insisted that the shows, shorn of commercials became this trippy time capsule that you can’t stop watching as one episode bled into the next.

I thought they were nuts until I sat down to watch them and found they were this trippy time capsules that I couldn’t stop watching.

The premise of the show is that two teams of celebrities bowl for someone in the studio audience. Depending on how well they do the better the prize. The game is called best ball where each member bowls in one lane and they play off who rolled the best ball. The episodes were only half an hour each so some of the ten frames were removed. They move like the wind and are frequently very funny.

The show was done at KTTV Channel 5where they built two full sized lanes in the basement. The shows somehow managed to get big stars of the period to come and bowl. More often than not the stars start off thinking it’s all a goof but as the games go on and they get into it so it becomes a matter of life and death. Since many of the games in the sets feature comedians the witty remarks come fast and furious. Stars on the show include----

The show is out in two sets. The first is called Bowling for Laughs and only features two shows . The bowlers are Gabe Kaplan,Charles Nelson Reilly,Shelly Berman, Norm Crosby and Pat Harrington and they are very funny. I had put this disc on first when I was sick and instantly fell into it. It was like watching a weird retro comedic road accident. It wasn’t bad, it’s quite good, but it is this weird other world which somehow feels safe and warm. When the disc ended I crawled out of my sick bed and put in the other set. That’s a three disc set with 15 shows total. I disconnected from reality and drifted off to bowlingland.

High art? Oh hell no. But it is entertaining. Its this weird trip back to a safe place where microwave ovens were newfangled contraptions.

I can’t recommend these disc highly enough. Assuming you know what you’re getting and can click into their vibe you’ll have a great time.

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