In a strange way, if you have read my last post, this post is sort of related to it.
There is this German guy who has been working in one of the soaps since, if not since I was born then at least for the last 30 years. He was in the 3rd Planet of the Apes movie, the one that proved that sequels can never be as good as the original. And he was in my favorite science fiction movie all time, The Forbin Project. He plays a scientist in charge of a giant supercomputer that is given control of all of the American nuclear missiles. Then with its Russian counterpart, it starts to take over mankind. It is really good, or at least it seemed so back in the 80’s when I first saw it.
Anyway, this German guy is always marrying someone or threatening someone else on his soap and my mother loves him. I have never been able to understand why. I mean how can someone do the same story line year after year and not get bored. How can someone else watch that person year after year and not get bored as well. How can anyone watch a soap opera period, and not get bored. This has always been, as Yul Brynner used to say, “A puzzlement.”
I took this class on public speaking once, and we were told that whenever you gave a speech, you were supposed to relate to your audience in order to get across what you wanted to get across. One of the best ways of this was to start with a joke, a witticism or story that the audience could grab a hold of and believe that you were part of them while you prattled on about the crap that no one was really interested in. It needed to be something that the people there either knew about already or something they could easily catch and move on with.
After each speech from the class was given, there would be a question and answer period. After one of my speeches about social security, or maybe it was about plagiarism, someone asked me, “who was Yul Brynner?” …Apparently the little bastard was too young to know who Yul Brynner was and I saw my grade slip a notch right in front of me. If you are in that cretin’s age group and don’t know who the great Yul Brynner was, then look for the King and I on PBS, or wait until next Easter and watch The Ten Commandments and you’ll know who I mean.
Well as of tonight, I now know what dearest Mama goes through when she watches her soaps. I was able to catch in the middle, Regis Philbin’s latest game show from New York and I realized it had a familiar ring to it. I thought immediately of Dick Clarks Pyramid. But then Regis pulls out Betty White and she started to slip words back and forth with the game show’s players and I know that it is Password.
So I’m watching Miss White, she was called Miss Betty White even by her husband Allen Ludden when he was hosting Password and was still alive, and I’m transported back to 30 years ago and I recognize the same head and body movements, the same false gasp of incredulity at getting an answer correct that this old pro has been using for all of her game show career, which may go back even further than the 30 that I’ve known her. There was a certain comfort in watching her create a false sense of surprise and suspense as the single words were played back and forth between her and the contestants. I watched as she gave that warm folksy show business personality of yester year and I knew as an audience member that I was in the hands of an expert.
I doubt that the show will last very long, it seems kind of weak. But like my mother, there is something about watching a professional at work, looking at them hone their craft and sharpen their skills that will make me watch out for Betty White again and again and again.