Monday, October 19, 2009

1970s TV Exposure, Volume 1: The Battle of the Bulge!

Whenever anyone today makes mention of “tight jeans,” I almost break into laughter. As anyone around in the 70s and 80s knows, pants and jeans were practically painted on back then! I can remember sometimes having to lie down on my bed to zip up certain pairs of jeans. I guess I’ll deal with the internal organ trauma I probably caused when the time comes! In revisiting some 70s television, I’ve occasionally been quite stunned at what has paraded across my screen.

One of my favorite programs as a kid was The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries. Now I see why! The stars of The Hardy Boys, Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy, seem to enjoy wearing the snug and revealing type of pants of the day (I’m partial to Parker, myself, more than Shaun, who is far too slender for my tastes, though he certainly had a major fan following at the time!) They sort of take turns showing off their wares, with Shaun tending to lead the way. Parker, nonetheless, was thanked in public by his then-wife Kirstie Alley during her 1991 Emmy acceptance speech for “for giving me the big one for the last eight years.” They are nothing, however, compared to guest star Ricky Nelson (in a vast acting stretch, playing a popular singer!) Nelson found the need, on this show geared towards youngsters, to wear jeans so revealing that he may as well have turned up on the set naked. When they talk about clothing leaving nothing to the imagination, this is surely what they meant! What in the world would Ozzie have had to say about this?

Not to be outdone, on the distaff side of the show (episodes alternated between the crime solvers) The Nancy Drew Mysteries, guest actor A Martinez (probably best known for his starring role on the daytime soap Santa Barbara) shows up in jeans that look as if he left a pair of tube socks in them by accident. The biggest mystery of this episode is finding out what kept Nancy from unzipping his fly when she went to visit him in jail! Ha Ha! Again, I say no one today need bother to mention the term “tight jeans!”

Sticking with the kiddie-oriented shows for a bit longer, I give you the seemingly innocent The New Adventures of Wonder Woman. Fans of The Young and the Restless might be surprised to see Victor Newman himself, Eric Braeden, as a guest star. I venture to say they would be even more surprised to see Eric parading around in polyester slacks so revealing that it’s almost insane! Were we that naïve? Blind? Did we not look? Did we not notice? It seems impossible not to. First Eric sidles up to another guest actor, his trousers hiked up and showing everything he’s got. The they begin to walk and the friction appears to be getting the better of him with each stride! Small wonder that Nikki and Victor have been marrying and remarrying each other on Y&R for the better part of three decades! Other episodes feature the painted-on style of the day as well. See Brian Tochi as he walks with Diana Prince through a marine park.

Of course, no discussion of 70s tight jeans is complete without mentioning those Kings of Bulge, The Duke Boys of The Dukes of Hazzard. John Schneider and Tom Wopat portrayed the good ol’ country bumpkins who delighted in foiling the exploit’s the corrupt county commissioner Boss Hogg and his sheriff henchman Roscoe P. Coltrane. The show wasn’t for everyone (I never made a point to watch it), but at least if one was planted in front of it, there were the mesmerizing shots of John, Tom, John Jr. and Tom Jr.! Schneider, in particular, tended to show off the most, but both guys could be counted upon to wear jeans that outlined every iota of their anatomy as demonstrated in this autographed 8 x 10 glossy. Other “culprits,” not pictured here, include CHiPs’ Erik Estrada, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century’s Gil Gerard and Baa Baa Black Sheep’s Robert Conrad.

Despite the preoccupation with sexiness and physical fitness, it seems that today’s television performers are actually more modest than some of their predecessors. The baggy look has been in for quite a while now and who knows when, or if, the super-tight and revealing look will make a comeback.


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