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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