Friday, June 02, 2006

Before the Idol

As far as it goes, I don't watch much television. Some popular shows I've seen twice or once or never. Such is the case with American Idol.

From listening to others who watch Idol, I've gathered one of the appeals of the show is Simon's brutal smackdowns of the talentless. This is an aspect of the show I've found less appealing the few times I've seen it, but the structure of it leaves me thinking of The Gong Show of my youth.

Before American Idol, there was Star Search, and before Star Search there was Chuck Barris' Gong Show which took itself far less seriously. Even when it was brutal, it was tongue-in-cheek, and probably a set up.

The show consisted of Chuck Barris, three stars (usually Jaye P. Morgan, Arte Johnson, Jamie Farr, etc.), a large gong, and talent show contestants who attempted to perform their acts without getting gonged.

Through the magic of iFilm, Google Video and YouTube, I've found a few old clips of the show. On YouTube, Gong Show Juggler is an example of an enteraining act going ungonged. On iFilm, there's an entire Gong Show page with about a dozen clips, with Mick Donnelly's Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head being the best example of Gong Show brutality.


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