NBC, which bent over backwards last year to murder its one weekly series of quality, "James at 15," is applying every known variety of artifical respiration to keep alive a gasping and trifling situation comedy that ABC had the decency to cancel.
Tonight the program, originally "Blansky's Beauties," and then "Legs," resurfaces again as "Who's Watching the Kids," premiering at 8:30 on Channel 4 and exhibiting all the drollery and playfulness of U.S. News and World Report.
Ostensibly sanitized under orders from NBC President Fred Silverman, the half-hour is still peopled with blandy randy types who lavish one another with saccharine sexual innuendos when not minding the resident tots, both of whom (Scott Baio and Tammy Lauren) are precocious in ways that only those living in the Hollywood Hills would find attractive.
The adults include Caren Kaye and Lynda Goodfriend, as elder sisters of the children, with Goodfriend doing Goldie Hawn's old giggle-dumb act from "Laugh-In." Across the way lives a local TV reporter played with both flaps up by Larry Breeding.
"Who's Watching the Kids" is so clearly a Tinkertoy construction that it might help inspire a new home game for children - "Situation Comedy." By now, any TV-exposed kid must be able to figure out the stock ingredients that producers like Garry Marshall who "created" this zero) toss together in order to lure audiences presumed to be starving for dross.
One troubling aspect of "Kids" is that it's the second new weekly series this year to be set in Las Vegas and to present that city as if it were a happy, wholesome town full of innocuous frolic. The fraudulence of this portrayal makes "Kids" vaguely unsavory as well as plainly inane. There is no reason to watch the program.
Dick Clark was beside himself - what a repulsive thought! Harmless enough when he knew his place (behind a podium on Saturday afternoons). Clark bounced hysterically into prime time Wednesday night with Dick Clark's live Wednesday," a new variety hour on NBC. He was about as welcome a sight as Jaws 3, and the resemblance doesn't end there.
"Don't go away" Clark implored three times during the show. If he's going to do that, then he should have the consistency to say, "Go away" at the end. His level of enthusiasm started on high and shifted into hyperhype as the hour dragged on. The music presented - by Diana Ross, Kristy and Jimmy McNichol, Rick Nelson and so-called all-star band - was uniformly shrill and raucous, yet the impression created was of absolutely nothing happening.
Though largely "live," much of the program consisted of recycled film clips from yesteryear designed to tap our nostalgia veins, but Clark has been to these so often that he's becoming something of a vampire. The program was so poorly directed by John Moffitt that the McNichols kids were barely visible during their song. Moffitt was too busy zooming in from the front, zooming in from the back, zooming in from the side and the zooming out from the front.
Clark dashed out after each youth-aimed act with gushes of "Ohhhhh!" and "Awwwww!" and "Love-lee!!!" and he went loudly to pieces over a stunt man who bounced pointlessly on two trampolines suspended from a helicopter hoveringover the Burbank Studios parking lot.
"I must confess I'm excited," Clark said at the outset, and it was no bluff. The trouble is, he's the only one who could have been.