Chances are, you have a grandparent or great-grandparent who lived through that very trying time in American history known as the Great Depression. If you've ever had the opportunity to listen to a relative who lived through this decade-long ordeal, he or she likely did not paint a rosy picture. Soup lines, apple carts, and extremely high unemployment were commonplace, especially in the larger cities. But Americans living in rural America, in some ways, had it rougher than their urban counterparts. That being said, quite a few of them had skills steeped in self-reliance that were especially helpful during those dark times. And those who were not so rugged or able-bodied could usually count on a close-knit community to help whenever possible.
If you've ever tuned in to a CBS station on Thursday nights in the 70s, you might have been a fan of that rural family drama set during the Depression, The Waltons. OR if you were late to the party or hadn't even been born while it was still on the air in primetime, you may have caught reruns on the Hallmark Channel or UP TV, which is how I discovered them.
Sure, I found the program to quaint and homespun, even corny at times. But I liked the fact that it showed a close, loving family who faced difficult challenges together living in Depression-era Virginia. It ran for a total of nine seasons (although I think it should have stopped at six as the show was morphing from a family drama into a soap opera), not counting a number of reunion specials and movies in the 80s and 90s.
I have no ideal what the hell the writers of the Jackie Jokers TV Special I'm featuring in this post were thinking! Obviously it's a spoof of The Waltons, but the writer was probably sipping brandy Alexanders as he cranked out this tripe. Not only is it not funny (as if anything Jackie Jokers does IS funny), it's just plain annoying! Don't believe me? OK, go ahead and enjoy "The Walltuns" (even the owl in the tree is questioning this deadline-cruncher).
Yeah, OK, "Jack-Boy"! I'm sure magazine editors and book publishers will be soooo anxious to have a writer named "Jack-Boy" in their respective stables.
And what's with all the repetition? Is this supposed to be FUNNY? See what I mean about annoying? I seem to recall a certain cartoon character that repeated words and phrases a lot and was just as annoying, if not more:
What was the point exactly?
So Jack-Boy gets tossed out of the family for not pulling his weight and runs off to the "Big City" to become a rich and famous writer. Yeah, good luck with that, Jack-Boy! Try getting a job first so you won't end up a starving artist on the street like those two winos in the alleyway.
And you're going to help that robbery victim how, exactly? By scribbling down the conversation between robber and victim verbatim? Yeah, don't bother trying to find a cop; jotting down what you hear is MUCH more important!
Of course the Big City newspaper will print your story! RIIIIIGHT! You'll have better luck submitting it to Reader's Digest!
Well, there's something else that's needed for television to really take off! Like, oh, I don't know....multiple TV sets sold to households throughout the country, local TV affiliates to broadcast those television signals to said sets, TV advertising to be the source of revenue, and, most importantly, millions of eyeballs to watch TV programming!
So in this supposed parody of the Waltons where none of the characters even vaguely resemble those on the actual show, we instead get some kind of alternate universe version where the protagonist makes it big writing TV scripts based on his family rather than books based on said family. I'm not sure where the writer was going with this story, but it probably didn't help him including it on the resume he sent to Mad Magazine.
I get the feeling that the creative staff at Harvey had no idea where to take the Jackie Jokers character. First, they start him out on his own solo series; that gets cancelled after 4 issues. Then they pair him up with Richie Rich for another 48 issues. But there's only so much Richie can do with a friend in show biz, so some brainiac editor came up with the idea of doing movie and TV parodies featuring Jackie in the lead role. A great way to fill up pages, sure, but most are poorly executed. In fact, the Jokers character is poorly executed. Must have been a pet project of a Harvey family member. But at least we didn't get a continuing Billy Bellhops series!
OK, that's it for now! See you next time!