Thursday, February 4, 2016

'Serial' BD- The Hilarious Satirical Real Housewives of '70s Era Mill Valley

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[EDITOR'S NOTE: The particularly special nature of the topic of this post results in the following being more "bloggy" than usual. Regularly scheduled programming will resume with the next post.]

Purveyor of wonderfully quirky and/or thought-provoking domestic and foreign classics Olive Films provides a great reminder of the joy of good satire regarding the recent Blu-ray release of the 1980 Martin Mull comedy "Serial." These films having a special place in the memories of those of us ancient enough to remember their releases is a bonus. The personal memory of "Serial" is a Colby College (a.k.a. ColbyCo) film society screening of it providing the first sense that college is cool.

The following YouTube clip of a "Serial" promo. nicely illustrates the aforementioned coolness.


On a very general level, the awesome (but truly unoffensive) un-pc nature of "Serial" is a great example of the theme of the Unreal TV reviewed modern documentary "That's Not Funny," which analyzes the loss of a sense of humor in America. As an aside, Robin Williams responding "because you killed all the funny people" when a German television interviewer asked why there was no comedy in Germany remains a personal favorite Williams joke.

Bill Persky of the '80s CBS Monday night comedy "Kate and Allie" centers "Serial" around middle-level bank executive Harvey Holroyd (played by Mull) and his spirituality/self-awareness obsessed wife Kate (played by '60s sex kitten Tuesday Weld.) A relatively unknown fact about Weld is that her first major role is as gleefully admitted gold digging high school student Thalia Menninger (opposite Warren Beatty) in the early '60s sitcom "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis;" the oft-repeated rationale of Menninger is hilarious,

Sally Kellerman (who plays Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan in the film version of "M*A*SH") plays the oft-married Martha, who begins the film days away from a very non-traditional (and hysterical) commitment ceremony. Mull making jokes during the ceremony and the current life partner of Martha discovering an ex-husband while reviewing her marital history are some of the best scenes in "Serial."

Neither last nor least regarding either the quirky characters or the B-level stars who portray them is Bill Macy of  the '70s Bea Arthur sitcom "Maude." The executive whom Macy portrays has a '70s California mid-life crisis that evokes thoughts of the leisure suits that still fill a closet of the (then recently divorced) father of  your (occasionally) humble reviewer.

Another "funny because its true" element revolves around Harvey and his fellow commuters riding their bikes to the ferry. A '70s era story in a large metropolitan newspaper includes a photo of a rear view of the very portly uncle of your (at times) humble reviewer riding his bicycle to his law firm. The ginormous headphones-style radio (almost certainly tuned to NPR) with the long antennas makes the photo.

Secondary characters who steal scenes include a brutal gay biker gang that listens to Judy Garland songs while on the open road. A blink and you will miss it moment in which the group begins a raid from  a YMCA is a great sight gag, gets the The Village People song of the same name stuck in your head, and makes you want to rewatch the "People" film "Can't Stop the Music."

The humor in "Serial" does not get nearly as edgy as that of Williams but includes a hilarious line in which a 10-year old boy tells his  cocaine-snorting and pill factory operating psychiatrist (played by Peter Bonerz of "The Bob Newhart Show") that he does not spend time with the "Gay Bruce" doll that is designed to increase his cultural sensitivity because he killed him. The shocked shrink asking the boy the reason for the Kenocide prompts the response "because he's a fag" and an assurance that his motive is no deeper. Bruce coming in a box designed to look like a closet contributes to the humor regarding this topic.

The most awesome part of "Serial" is that those of us who remember the swinging '70s can relate to the humor and folks who still have all their hair will get a fun look at the goofiness of it all.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Serial" is strongly encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.