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Pink Lady And Jeff

So… Pink Lady And Jeff.

It's… remarkable.

It's… just so mindboggingly bad that it's really hard to think what anyone involved was thinking. However, the Rhino DVD set is actually surprisingly good. Rhino found some of the promotional materials, included a biography on Pink Lady, and got Jeff to do a 20 minute interview and show introductions, where he is incredibly bitter about:

a) Not Having His Name Technically In The Title (it's officially just Pink Lady, but most of the promo material/etc. said Pink Lady & Jeff), and
b) The Utter And Complete Failure Of This Show, Which Even He Realizes Is Completely Terribly Awful. Which is kinda funny, since it seems that "Man, I was on this really horrible show that people just kept trying to ruin! And my name wasn't even in the title of it!"

It's a very, very strange show. The main thrust of it seems to be "Hey, these girls? They sure are asian!" and there's lots of recurring bits that aren't funny and don't work at all. But they just keep coming back, because that's what the recurring bits do. As the series progressed, it did get better – the realization that it wasn't going to be renewed, and was most likely going to end up being cancelled set in, so they got a little looser with the show; one of the best jokes is in the last episode where Mei and Kei speak Polish to Bobby Vinton; Jeff asks "Wait, you girls know Polish?" and Mei says "Well, we sure don't know English!".

Still though, it's hilarious how NBC and the producers actively worked on ruining the show. For example, in Japan, Pink Lady was mainly known for doing everything totally in sync. NBC, however, wanted them to have individual personalities. So they weren't allowed to do the Unison Movements. As such, the dancing ends up being really awkward and they keep sort of catching themselves, so instead of being Slick and Synchronized, or Wholly Unsynchronized, it ends up just looking like they're really, really bad at being in sync. (Which they're not, since they actually showed a Japanese TV clip where they were doing the standard routine, and they were perfectly timed.)

NBC didn't allow them to sing in Japanese for the most part, so they're memorizing phonetically all of their English dialogue/songs, since they don't know the language at all. So, you end up with a lot of this deer-in-headlight look between Pink Lady, just because, well, OK, if I were trying to do a show in Japanese, it'd have basically the same effect. Again, there's glimpses of the actual talent Pink Lady do indeed have, as they got to do two or three songs in Japanese – which were, of course, by far the best musical numbers; the songs were actually good, and Pink Lady were relaxed and in their element (and not having to speak in a language they had no idea how to speak).

The sad thing, though, is that Pink Lady are obviously actually really talented, and they're being wasted on this. (Jeff less so, since, well, uh, he's not very funny at all, so he's clearly doing much better than could be hoped, since most people don't get even 5 episode runs on NBC, so he's way ahead of the game, here. You're sorta happy for him, actually. After all – the vibe he most gives off isn't "TV Comedian and Presenter", but rather, "Hardware Store Manager" – though, you know he'd be a damned good Hardware Store Manager. But Pink Lady could do much, much more if they were allowed to.)

The strangest thing about the show, though, is the Utterly Formulaic Structure. It goes:

a) Jeff's Monologue
b) Pink Lady come out in kimonos, doing the first line or two of an American song in Japanese, rip off the kimonos to reveal Sexy Dresses(tm), and do a song they don't know the lyrics to (i.e. "Boogie Wonderland" or "Stop! In The Name Of Love")
c) Jeff comes out and they do a short bit which ends in the Sumo Wrestler Guy coming out and maybe chasing Jeff around or otherwise intimidating him.
d) The Radio Sketch which includes typically the Annoying Faith Healer and maybe Art Nuvo, one of Jeff's "characters" where he sells art items (it's not clear if the joke is that he's selling prints/reproductions or the originals for cheap prices; the joke would make sense if it were the latter, but he keeps talking about having multiple copies of, say, Rodin's Thinker, so…)
e) Art Nuvo tosses to another TV-Based Sketch
f) First musical guest
g) More unfunny comedy just cut in
h) Pink Lady & Musical Guest
i) More g)
j) Spliced in Blondie/Alice Cooper Video
h) Mei Writes A Letter Home ("Dear Mom, I am totally sorry I killed that guy; I didn't think they make me do this as my punishment…") and they do a routine about a random city
i) The Hot Tub
f) The biggest laugh when the "Produced by Sid And Marty Krofft!" credit comes up first.

And, yes – i) does indeed read "The Hot Tub". That's not a typo or code for anything. See, NBC said that they needed some way to americanize Pink Lady's appeal. And, apparently this was the beginning of the Hot Tub Craze, so they decided that Pink Lady should go hot tubbing every episode. And the joke, in every episode, is that they go behind a screen and strip, Jeff rants about how he doesn't want to go into the hot tub, they come out in robes, take off the robes and show their bikinis. Jeff then makes some sort of "Hey, naked hot chicks!" comment w/r/t the bikinis, and they force him into the hot tub in his tuxedo. Then he says "Sayonara" and they say "Good night!" and he says "See you next week!" and the credits come up. It's... strange because it's the type of joke that would only work once maximum, and not even then really, but they do it ''EVERY EPISODE''. EVERY EPISODE Jeff doesn't see the Hot Tubbing Coming, and EVERY EPISODE Jeff has to be convinced/forced into the hot tub, where Pink Lady usually end up taking off his jacket and hang off him for a while.

It's… odd.

This set is so worth it. I'm glad I got it. It's amazing to see this sort of thing, just because it's sort of like What Happens When TV Goes Wrong. It's the last-ditch attempt at a flailing network to try and get viewers by showing something different and instead killing an entire genre (Pink Lady & Jeff is pretty much considered the last of the variety shows. There's been a few others, like Penn & Teller's Sin City Spectactular and the one the Smothers Brothers had in the summer back in 1990 or thereabouts, though I don't think either of those count since the former was a not-terribly-well-rated cable show that ended after a couple years, and the latter was a series of one-off specials, sort of like a one-off mini-series that wasn't ever really intended to become a series. And it's not like either of them really brought back a Variety Show Renaissance (i.e. stuff like Bobcat's Big-Ass Show had already appeared, and the occasional later contender never really stuck around either). Understandably, since, well, the Variety Show Genre is, um, pretty awful, really, what with the whole Unevenness built in. I think the Penn & Teller one was about the best I'd seen, and even that was best videotaped for fast-forwarding skills.). So, yeah. People interested in Pop Culture should view Pink Lady & Jeff just because the failures are just as interesting as the successes. Well, sometimes, mainly when they fail so spectactularly. This isn't your every day failed program – this is a complete train wreck from day one. Right out of the gate, it's unsalvageable. And it's remarkable that it aired for five episodes instead of, say, two, one or zero.

So, yeah, check it out. It's one of the strangest and worst things ever put on television. And it's so utterly compelling. It is The Perfect Failure.