Shirley MacLaine opens her CB Special sitting on a pedestal in the lotus position and leturing abut the future. This is not Shirley MacLaine the singer. This is Shirley MacLaine the national spiritual leader, America's pixie conscience, Our Lady of Bel Air.
"Where do we go from here?" she sings, and that is the title and theme for this outlandishly pretentious musical special, tonight on Channel 9 to 10 p.m. MacLaine comes on mistily reflective about humanity while laser lights form Stars of David in the black void behind her.
Then, zap, she is suddenly joined dancers, and they all launch into what look like variations on calisthentics MacLaine might have seen during a visit to mainland China. 'Where Do We Go From Here?" attempts to merge MacLaine's social activist persona with her cutey-pie, Twinkly vaudeville routines, and the result is a presumptuous bore.
It is slickl produced and the hour has a few bright musical moments, but there is a basic incompatibility between moral dissertations and the boogaloo. One minute MacLaine is commentary on the plight of New York City, and the next she is extolling Manhattan for such wonders as "Bergedorf's and Sasks."
There's an element of hypocritical opportunism in the show's use of the male drag ballerinas from "Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo." Since there is no classical ballet on commercial network television, the troupe's affectionate spoofing, ripped out of context, becomes crude and low-brow burlesque. MacLaine introduces it with repeated convulsions of faked laughter, as if to wink at viewers and let them know she thinks the guys are weird but worth a smirk.
MacLaine ends the hours back on her pedestal, joined now by a teddy bear to whom she recites poetry. Yes, really. And this is right after an illustrated song about disillusion and childhood; the illustrations include a drawing of Nixon with tapes falling out of his pants. "Let's make one promise we owe to ourselves, MacLaine with simulated sincerity, "the future ha harvest the whole world can reap."
It should be noted that this glitterbug protest against dehumanization was taped before a dead audience of artificial cheers and laughter in Los Angeles.