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Those Beatles Were a Passing Fad


 

After you read Michael Barclay on last night’s Juno show, here’s a brief look at a much weirder place where popular music and television intersect:

There was a conversation on Social Media™ the other day about Beatles knockoff bands from ’60s sitcoms — from about 1964 to 1967, several prime-time U.S. comedies did episodes spoofing Beatlemania, almost always with a made-up band and some jokes about their haircuts. All of this culminated in The Monkees, the first show built entirely around a made-up group, but they were actually supposed to be a popular group outside of the show; the other shows usually brought on a fake group singing a fake song (once in a while we’d get a real one) to show us how ridiculous the writers thought the Beatles were.

The Flintstones ended an episode by posing as the popular (but not with hillbillies) group “The Four Insects”; the Petticoat Junction girls were organized into “The Ladybugs” (and actually appeared that was on the Ed Sullivan Show as a cross-promotion), The Mosquitoes left Gilligan and his friends stranded on the island again, Dick Van Dyke met a two-man band called the Redcoats (played by a minor British-invasion group, the folk rock duo Chad and Jeremy) and F-Troop proved that the Liverpool sound was as popular in the 19th century as it was in prehistoric times. Here’s a compilation:

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The common thread of most of these episodes, as Tim Long pointed out, is that those Beatles have no talent and that anyone can do what they do by putting on a funny wig and singing “yeah” a lot. It’s the same joke that’s made about any sudden pop sensation in any era; jokes about screaming girls who love the Beatles could just be recycled from ’40s jokes about screaming girls who loved Frank Sinatra. But as with Sinatra, the assumption that this would be a flash-in-the-pan fad didn’t quite work out. I wonder: which current pop star, the butt of many jokes about his or her fraudulence, will turn out to be an enduring star for the ages? I hope it’s not Bieber, but you really never can tell with these things.

Are there any other Beatlemania episodes from the ’60s that this compilation missed? Apart from the actual Beatles cartoon, I mean.


 
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Those Beatles Were a Passing Fad

  1. I think it's fair to say that the entire genre of rap music was treated similarly in the mid to late '80s, when it was fairly common for sitcom dads to do some clumsy beatboxing and freestyle lyrics of the "My name's Al Bundy, and I'm here to say" variety.

  2. I think it's fair to say that the entire genre of rap music was treated similarly in the mid to late '80s, when it was fairly common for sitcom dads to do some clumsy beatboxing and freestyle lyrics of the "My name's Al Bundy, and I'm here to say" variety.

    • Welcome to the terrordome, indeed.

  3. From Doctor Who in 1965:

    [youtube EBw5tOeXWkY&feature=player_embedded http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBw5tOeXWkY&feature=player_embedded youtube]

    Perhaps the writers of DW could see that the Beatles would be around for quite some time or perhaps they were making your point that it impossible for us to know how history will judge our culture and whether/how certain artists will be remembered.

    But I do wonder whether DW's British writers might have been slightly more hopeful regarding the potential longevity of the Beatles than their American contemporaries?

    The new Doctor Who series made a similar point here (from 7:20)

    [youtube uIUYYBFyrx0 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIUYYBFyrx0 youtube]

  4. From Doctor Who in 1965:

    [youtube EBw5tOeXWkY&feature=player_embedded http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBw5tOeXWkY&feature=player_embedded youtube]

    Perhaps the writers of DW could see that the Beatles would be around for quite some time or perhaps they were making your point that it impossible for us to know how history will judge our culture and whether/how certain artists will be remembered.

    But I do wonder whether DW's British writers might have been slightly more hopeful regarding the potential longevity of the Beatles than their American contemporaries?

    The new Doctor Who series made a similar point here (from 7:20)

    [youtube uIUYYBFyrx0 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIUYYBFyrx0 youtube]

    • I always thought the joke in that Doctor Who was the very idea that a pop group from the '60s would be remembered and treated as "classical" music in the future. Hence the double take when it's mentioned they have a memorial theatre dedicated to them. It wasn't an anti-Beatles joke, more based on the idea that young people think of a previous generation's pop music as "old."

      • I'm not one to debate the meaning of a joke (which undoubtedly includes your point), but I'll note that the "Ian" character is also very surprised that 'Vicky" (from his future) knows of the Beatles.

        And no, not an anti-Beatles joke at all.

  5. I always thought the joke in that Doctor Who was the very idea that a pop group from the '60s would be remembered and treated as "classical" music in the future. Hence the double take when it's mentioned they have a memorial theatre dedicated to them. It wasn't an anti-Beatles joke, more based on the idea that young people think of a previous generation's pop music as "old."

  6. I'm not one to debate the meaning of a joke (which undoubtedly includes your point), but I'll note that the "Ian" character is also very surprised that 'Vicky" (from his future) knows of the Beatles.

    And no, not an anti-Beatles joke at all.

  7. Welcome to the terrordome, indeed.

  8. Chad and Jeremy also appeared on Batman. One of the bad guys stole their voices and Batman had to get them back.

  9. I don't think any of these groups were really imitating the Beatles. It was just the time of British Invasion and Mod rock & roll, the producers and writers knew that they'd get some additional teenage viewers if they put a band in an episode.

    You guys forgot "The Standells" performing on "The Munsters", "The Dave Clark 5" performing on "The Lucy Show", Boyce & Hart performing on "Bewitched", "The Enemies" performing on "The Beverly Hillbillies" and that Lurch once became a rock & roll star on "The Addams Family"

  10. I don't think any of these groups were really imitating the Beatles. It was just the time of British Invasion and Mod rock & roll, the producers and writers knew that they'd get some additional teenage viewers if they put a band in an episode.

    You guys forgot "The Standells" performing on "The Munsters", "The Dave Clark 5" performing on "The Lucy Show", Boyce & Hart performing on "Bewitched", "The Enemies" performing on "The Beverly Hillbillies" and that Lurch once became a rock & roll star on "The Addams Family"

  11. Chad and Jeremy also appeared on The Patty Duke Show as "Nigel and Patrick."

  12. Chad and Jeremy also appeared on The Patty Duke Show as "Nigel and Patrick."

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