I Saw That!

One woman's opinions about popular entertainment.

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Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Amateur boxing coach, Christian (but not so heavenly-minded that I'm no earthly good) singer, writer, self-defense advocate, childfree. feminist www.smartwomenboxingtraining.org

Friday, March 30, 2007

"The Benny Hill Show" (1969-1989)

Born Alfred Hawthorn Hill, Benny Hill was one of those comedians that people either liked or didn't like. A lot of women disliked Hill, accusing him of being sexist due to the content of many of the jokes on his long running TV series in the United Kingdom. American audiences were introduced to Hill via re-runs of his shows from the 1960's and 1970s, but the comedian had shows on British television since 1955, starting on the BBC, before moving over to Thames Television.

Benny Hill was the master of naughty innuendo, often giving the audience an innocent, but knowing look after a joke. He was a rotund, cherub-faced guy, who could do many characters and many accents. He did a pretty good American accent, as evidenced in a sketch "Murder On The Omaha Express" where Hill impersonated TV detectives (Kojak, McCloud, Cannon, Ironside) that were popular on American television at the time.

His shows consisted of filmed and taped sketches and clever, comedic songs. Hill skewered social norms, history, celebrities, political trends, movies, etc., using camera effects and music. Sometimes, things did veer into bad taste. A buxom woman, sitting on Hill's lap in one sketch, remarked, "I always give tit for tat." Hill eyed her chest and exclaimed, "Tat! Tat!" The comic would appear in blackface on ocassion (and sometimes his cast would, too) and use an exaggerated African-American accent. There was a sketch, however, where Hill played a pastor talking with an African man, in what seemed a condescending manner. A camera trick then made it appear that the African man was white, and Hill was African, making Hill's character look like the underhanded, foolish person the pastor really was, while pointing up similiarities between both men.

The comedian also appeared in films such as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1969) and The Italian Job (1969). The band Genesis used Hill in a music video for their song "Everything She Does" (1986).

Benny Hill died of a heart attack at his home in 1992. Many rumors swirled around about his personal life, including a claim that Hill was quite the playboy. But he kept his professional and personal life separate, up to the end.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

"Sanford" (1980-1981)

This short-lived spin-off was the second one to come from "Sanford and Son" (1972-1977). It was not as good as the first show, but neither was it as bad as "The Sanford Arms"(1977), which had little to do with the original.

Fred Sanford was still his usual cranky and sneaky self. His son, Lamont, was not featured on this show, as he had taken a better job out of state. In his place was Cal Pettie (Dennis Burkley), a former co-worker of Lamont's, who agreed to be Fred's partner in the junk business. Cal was a jovial good 'ole boy who learned to deal with Fred's ranting and sarcasm.

Aunt Esther (LaWanda Page) and Lamont's best friend Rollo (Nathaniel Taylor) were back to serve as objects of Fred's non-stop insults. Fred had a new girlfriend, Eve Lewis (Margueritte Ray), who was wealthy and lived in Beverly Hills. Her mother, Cissy (Cathy Cooper), couldn't stand Fred, thinking that her widowed daughter could do better than a junkman.

There were some good moments in this series, but as they say, the magic was gone. The chemistry between Fred and Cal was no substitute for the rapport the old man had with Lamont. Cissy was similar to Aunt Esther in that she was a second disgareeable woman for Fred to mix it up with, and it's possible that character didn't need to be there.

Clinton Derricks-Carroll also appeared on this show as a relative of Aunt Esther's. It has long been rumored that Nathaniel Taylor is actually a relative of late soul singer Johnny Taylor, but that hasn't been proven.

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