Saturday, November 14, 2009

Keeping Up with the Joneses

If you are a fan of Spike Jones, you'll want to see Spike Jones: The Legend: Disc 1.If not, it's probably because you don't know who he is. Or like the girl in the Band song, "Can't stand the way he sings, but love to hear him talk."

This disc features two episodes of the Colgate Comedy Hour hosted by the Spike Jones Band. This is a real TV incunabulum, from the cradle. Bright lights cause the camera to black out, the picture loses focus on zooms, overall quality is low, but it is the real thing. Instead of commercials, they had to work the products (Halo shampoo and Colgate toothpaste) into some of the skits.

Of the two, the first episode is best. It includes several of Spike's classics - "Chloe", "Cocktails for Two", and my favorite, "The Poet and Peasant Overture". The second features more skits than songs, based on the cunning idea the "Spike Jones is On TV" - an early example of going meta.

The band is classic, including trumpeter Georgie Rock, tenor banjos Dick and troll-faced Freddie Morgan, Billy Barty, Sir Frederic Gas and Doodles Weaver. Jones, a human cartoon in a checked suit, is in fine pitch, leading the orchestra with a pistol or plunger for a baton, soloing on the cowbells and providing backup on washboard and tinpan percussion.

Spike made a feature film, Fireman, Save My Child, but it isn't available. Spike's TV show, in my opinion is better than these Colgate Comedy Hour eps, but they are only available on VHS (we own 2 of the 3 volumes). So, other than a few cameos, this is the best you can do on Netflix. So go ahead and do it!

Speaking of cameos, the band does one in Variety Girl, an oddity I highly recommend. It's not available on Netflix, but I own the VHS. Suck it!

Oh geeze, sorry, that just slipped out. Volume 2 of this series features 2 episodes of 1952's All Star Revue. Hope to see it soon.

Update: We have now seen Spike Jones: The Legend: Disc 2 - Two episodes of the All-Star Revue show. I think these are more successful than the Colgate eps - less lame commercial stuff, for ex. There's a lot of overlap, and a lot of overlap with the Spike Jones Show (in fact, I think some of the show is recycled scenes). Still no reason not to watch them both.

No comments: