Judge Dennis Prince says this and a box of Honey Comb cereal created a magic moment to soothe his aching middle-aged psyche.
Razzle dazzle -
Set yourself down,
"…starring Bill, Mark, and Brett—the Hudson Brothers. With Kent Zeigler, Billy Van, and Peter Cullen; Murray Langston and Freeman King; Avril Chown; the Bear; Rod Hull and his extraordinary Australian Emu; and sets, lights, and all sorts of fun things!"
Following a successful summertime prime-time jaunt in 1974, the musical and manic Hudson Brothers appeared the perfect candidates for a Saturday morning assignment—and so they were. Sporting flowing yet well-coifed long hair and sparkling personas, the three Hudsons landed the noon slot on CBS, Saturdays from September 7, 1974 through August 30, 1975. The churned out a respectable sixteen episodes of their wild and wacky comedy, that which very much resembled the variety shows Mom and Dad watched, this one clearly bent toward the curtain-climbing crowd. The recipe was simple: take the zaniest moments from the likes of The Carol Burnett Show then add some musical fun to entice the post-Osmond Brothers crowd, then spice it up with a bit of Jay Ward style irreverence and you get The Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show. In a brisk 30-minute period, the brothers, flanked by an equally zany band of support characters, would dazzle and delight viewers with a saccharine yet still funny brand of humor.
Each show followed a dependable format, the post-credit segment including the "popping in" of Bill, Mark, and Brett, they who, with guitars in hand, bang out a rockin' reprise of the show's theme song. Then, just as they're ready to begin the show proper, in slides an office front out of which emerges Fabulous Freddie, the network Vice President in charge of kids programming. He's a kid himself, you see, an imposing 12-year-old Bonaduce-like foil that keeps a close eye on the brothers' performance and suitability for their coveted Saturday morning time slot. After a stern quip and a dismissive hand gesture, Freddy is gone again and the show moves along to another song from the trio and a couple of bad jokes (of the knock-knock ilk). The boys then introduce Rod Hull and his Emu, the attitude-filled Aussie bird always eager to offend and assail his mild-mannered British handler. Another silly skit, a commercial break (with the hilarious animated bumpers and voiceover made famous in The Sonny & Cher Show), then it's off to the Razzle Dazzle Wrap-Up that includes a handful more skits: the team of Frankenstein Monsters eager to create their own creature, a visit the tiny island of Pigi-Pigi whose five inhabitants cluster to remain atop the 1-square-yard land mass (?), an encounter with the Cookie Bear, and whatever else (including the kitchen sink). Another break then the final number and back into the Razzle Dazzle van until next week.
Without question, The Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show is the sort of fool's gold cherished by erstwhile '70s kids. It's full of camp and craziness but also delivers some genuine humor in its very clean and presentable style. There is no potty humor and any feigned violence is of the most slapstick nature. While the three Hudsons are clearly adept at unleashing humor that is unquestionably Marxist—as in the "Marx Brothers," not the insufferable socialist—they're made better by the clever comedic ensemble around them, Ziegler, Van, and the rest. Rod Hull and his Emu was a smash hit on other primetime variety shows of the day and his act is still rib tickling some many decades later. It's easy to recognize that this show was beholden to adhere to the increasingly strict guidelines for children's programming in the 1970s, the sort that flagged the classic escapades of Bugs Bunny and the Road Runner as far too harsh for impressionable little noggins (causing those cartoons to have been edited when airing during this "education and ecology" decade). Therefore, the show also offers educational content that includes introducing different career professions (during the "many Frankensteins" skits) plus a bit of a friendly but moralizing finger wagging during the boys' final number and wrap up with Fabulous Freddie.
Clearly, the Hudson Brothers are three stooges who obviously enjoyed their internment in the Institute of the Rubber Chicken. Nevertheless, they were accomplished musicians and performers in their own right, having gained recognition for their hit songs, "So You Are a Star" and "Rendezvous," among others. There product is clean and upright, so will they appeal to today's set of youngsters? Possibly, yes. Given youth today is offered the trite pre-teen antics found in iCarly, Drake and Josh, and similar post-modern launching pad vehicles for the next Brittney and Justin hopefuls, The Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show is actually far superior in its comedy (if you can believe that), especially because it's built upon a foundation of fun, not cynicism. Give your pre-teen a look at this previously-lost gem and see if they don't enjoy the silliness and possibly even cruise the iTunes store looking for a Hudson Brothers song.
The 16 episodes here are presented in their original 1.33:1 full frame format. Although the original source elements are vintage 1970s video, the transfer is quite impressive and clean, only the opening and closing titles bearing the washed out contrast some of us will remember all too well. The audio comes by way of a very suitable Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono mix, properly delivering a clean and intelligible soundtrack. Nicely enough, there are some fun extras here, including roughly 25 minutes of selected segments from the Hudson Brothers aforementioned primetime summer show (plus the original opening and closing titles) as well as three skits of Brett doing his well-regarded Chucky Margolis skits, he being a basement-bound five-year-old who never sees his parents save for their ankles when they decide to toss him down a crust of bread (this in 1974?!).
In all, The Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show is a welcome release on DVD, especially with all episodes present and accounted for. If ever you or your youngsters tire of today's commercial-laden "youth programming," give this set a look. It just might razzle-dazzle you.
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