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Do these pictures take you back in time? Daisies were groovy, we learned the way they became the "Brady Bunch," and everyone had a player for their 45s.
For comedian Greg Fitzsimmons, the 1970s can be summed up through his experience with the Underoos craze which, in 1978, gave children across America the illusion of achieving a superhuman state by donning underwear emblazoned with their favorite comic-book heroes. Like the decade of its origin, what began as a hopeful journey toward attaining a newfound sense of completeness was soon tempered by a shock of reality: "I went to bed as Batman, but I would wake up as Aquaman."
It took a small army of candid, sharp-witted celebrities and 52 staffers putting in nearly a thousand hours of work to paste together VH1's "I Love the '70s," a humorous and irreverent look back on the decade of hot pants, Skylab, Slip 'n' Slide, streaking, Tony Orlando & Dawn, "Soul Train," 8-track tapes, the bicentennial and the Village People.
All the funky fads, fashions, movies, songs and events that defined the decade of excess are revisited in this expansive production. As with the thoroughly enjoyable "I Love the '80s" series, which premiered last December, VH1's over-the-shoulder gander at the 1970s is a guilty pleasure, comprising 10 hour-long programs, one for each year of the decade. With two episodes premiering per evening tonight through Friday, the prospect of viewing the entire series from start to finish seems a workable goal for most 9-to-5ers. Good thing, too, because after a screening of this wacky retrospective, you may find yourself fiending for more of that far-out, dy-no-mite stuff.
"I Love the '70s" unfolds chronologically, with the year 1970 as its first episode, and a rapid succession of images of the Jackson 5, Carol Burnett, Mr. Rogers and Mutual of Omaha's "Wild Kingdom" flickering across the screen. We meet a good-humored David Cassidy, three decades removed from his sunniest days as a fresh-faced teen idol on
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The Oompa-Loompas came to life in "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory," "Jaws" made people think twice about going into the water, and "The Godfather" made moviegoers an offer they couldn't refuse.
"The Partridge Family," chiming in on the absurdity of the show's iconic multicolored school bus-turned-touring vehicle: "The bus was a piece of crap, but what it represented was beautiful," he says, flashing his trademark pearly whites.
Then there's that lovable lout Tom Arnold, who, with a perfectly straight face, expresses his admiration for the donkeyish "Hee Haw" series by saying: "I grew up in Iowa. 'Hee Haw' was 'Masterpiece Theatre' to us."
Groundbreaking TV programs like "Love American Style," "The Newlywed Game" and "Monday Night Football" made their own indelible mark on pop culture, while wide-eyed preteens got their jollies from "The Brady Bunch" ("Where was the other mother and father?" asks Lisa Marie Presley, no doubt echoing the sentiments of countless viewers), Lite-Brite, Slime, Shrinky Dinks, Weebles and the juicier parts of Judy Blume's coming-of-age novels.
We are reminded by actor and comedian Greg Proops that the King of Rock 'n' Roll once faced serious competition in the big-collared stage attire department: "Neil Diamond? Jewish Elvis. That's all you need to know." Loni Anderson, Bo Derek and Farrah Fawcett were the righteous foxes of the decade, while steely-gazed macho men like Jack Lord and James Brolin were its certified studs.
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Mark Spitz took home seven gold medals in the '72 Olympics, Sonny & Cher "got" each other, and Muhammed Ali stung like a bee.
We were enthralled by such imaginative celluloid fare as "Star Wars" and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"; swore allegiance to Kiss, Peter Frampton, Led Zeppelin and the Bee Gees; and thrilled to new innovations like the waterbed, the pocket calculator, Pong and Pop Rocks. Some ideas, however, are best left in the past.
"Bell bottoms -- they started out with the best of intentions. 'My ankles need more room,'" remembers comedian, actor and former host of E!'s "Talk Soup" Hal Sparks. "And they ended with 'Why am I wearing a skirt from the knee down?'"
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