Now Playing: PINK LADY
I've written way more on the blog than I ever intended about Fred Silverman's incompetent reign as the head of NBC in the late 1970's. Really, it's been just a coincidence that I have in recent months been catching up with or reacquainting myself with some of the worst shows in television history...that just happen to have been broadcast on NBC during Silverman's reign. PINK LADY may not be the worst series in the history of the medium, but it's one of the most notorious and usually pops up on anyone's list of Worst Ever.
Usually referred to as PINK LADY AND JEFF or PINK LADY...AND JEFF, the series was officially known as PINK LADY, thanks to Pink Lady's shrewd management that contractually shut Jeff out of the title. Jeff was Jeff Altman, a relatively obscure standup comic with a few pilots and guest-starring TV gigs under his belt, as well as a good reputation among comedians at L.A.'s Comedy Store. Pink Lady was Mie and Kei, two cute women in their 20's who were then among the biggest pop stars in Japan. Even though they were filling stadiums with their concerts and selling millions of records in Japan, they were nothing in the United States. Hell, even Jeff Altman was more famous than they were. Oh, and they also didn't speak a word of English.
Well, NBC didn't let that considerably important fact stand in the way of giving Pink Lady their own prime-time variety show. When PINK LADY debuted on March 1, 1980 with the girls performing "Boogie Wonderland" while clad in shimmering evening gowns, a new benchmark for Bad TV was set. The show began with an uncomfortably lame Altman monologue, followed by Mie and Kei coming out to banter with him. Since they actually had no idea what they were saying, as the scripts were taught to them phonetically, the whole experience is given an otherworldly feeling, like Altman is carrying on a conversation with spacemen.
For six episodes, the ladies sang, bounced, giggled and jiggled in tight pants, evening wear and bikinis, as Altman attempted to explain to the audience--and to Pink Lady--what was going on. Guest stars, which were reportedly often booked at the last minute, since few performers wanted to be seen anywhere near this turkey (one of them, B.J. AND THE BEAR star Greg Evigan, played his sax on an episode), floundered in ill-conceived sketches that rarely featured the girls in any meaningful manner. And every episode ended with the sexy women enticing a strangely reluctant Altman into a hot tub, where the trio said their goodbyes.
It's difficult to blame the creative team too much for PINK LADY's dismal quality, as the very concept seems an unlikely one for continued success. Not only were Mie and Kei very frustrated at the show's production, which, among other indignities, forced them to wear clothes with their names stitched on them, so stupid Americans would be able to tell them apart, but they were also maintaining their touring and recording schedule in Japan, resulting in several exhausting around-the-world flights.
If you're curious to see more of PINK LADY, a TV series often spoken of in the exalted company of other Worst Shows Ever like MY MOTHER, THE CAR, HELLO, LARRY, THE CHEVY CHASE SHOW and COP ROCK, it's available from Rhino in a 3-DVD box set. It's been out for four years, and I'd love to see Rhino's sales figures.