How could I have missed this?
I got home last night from Philly (more on that later) and I turned on the TV and started flipping through channels when I came across something that made me go, "HOLY SHIT!"
It was a Battle of the Network Stars marathon on the TRIO network. Yep, I got to see Gabe Kaplan run against Richard Hatch -- the original Richard Hatch of Battlestar Gallactica not from Survivor. And then there was the still hunky Gregory Harrison in a speedo during the swimming competition.
What was so impressive then (and I'm not talking abotu the fact that you got to see male celebs in Speedos (and not tucked either) and still is now, is that these people were seriously competing. You got money (which I didn't know until last night) based upon your team's total performance in the competition so these people were out for themselves big time here. I remember the obstacle course and I remember the relay race and the dunking booth. I mean this was one of hte few shows that I was allowed to stay up late and watch when I was a kid.
Well last night I tucked in with a cup of coffee and stayed up until 2 in the morning (VCR a-churnin) watching Joyce Dewitt and Tim Reid fling themselves across the monkey bars on the obstacle course. Robert Conrad getting hit in the face with a football. Penny Marshall in blue and white striped knee highs doing a cheer with Kristy McNichols. And what about when they brought in Simon Says and Mr T. blew a gasket? However, when can you ever see David Letterman go against Billy Crystal in an obstacle course race? Only on Battle of the Network Stars.
This was classic TV that can never be repeated and not because we have multiple networks now. It's just that you couldn't get the caliber of stars to do it that you would need to make it a ratings hit. People would be too concerned about making a fool of themselves on national TV by having say, Grandma from The Beverly Hillbillies knock down the foreign exchange student guy from That 70s Show in the dunk tank. Or maybe this time it would be someone like Mo'Nique from whatever show she's on (The Parkers, I think?) outrunning ER's Laura Innes in a footrace. And would the guys really put on a speedo for us to watch? No, I think they would be more demure in surfer trunks
Sadly, this is a show from the swinging disco era of the 70s that somehow made it into the mid 80s and died after one last gasp in 1988. I'm just glad that I now have some of them on tape for when I need a good laugh.