Look, anything you could accuse Perry Como of not being he could say he never tried to be. The world's greastest singer? Another Mario Lanza maybe? A multimedia experience? Perry's been serving up grandma's potato salad for 30 or 40 years, and God bless him, he never tried to pass it off as pommes de terre.
When Perry takes a vacation in the Bahamas, he brings along a cast and crew and calls it a TV special: "Perry Como's Bahamas Holiday," at 8 tonight on Channel 7. Under almost any circumstances this would have to be considered a jaunty and appealing hour, but compared to recent "musical" specials by the Carpenters, Barry Manilow, Cheryl Ladd and Olivia Newton-John, Perry's show is a virtual Metropolitan Opera.
Stephen Pouliot, who produced and wrote the special, and Sterling Johnson, who briskly directed it, kept it cool and breezy in the Como style, and they made lavish, photogenic use of the Bahamas locations and of Bahamians as well. The hour may have the trappings of a travelogue, even a commercial (the Ministry of Tourism lent a hand), but so what? One hardly ever sees this much intoxicating scenery photographed so well.
The guests include Loretta Swit, who sings "Ah, the Apple Trees" and "As Time Goes By" in Graycliff, once a mansion frequented by the duke and duchess of Windsor; and the Captain and Tennille, made more palatable than ever in these surroundings. Tennille's entrance is down the gangplank of a ship; with quaint futility she tries to keep her dress from blowing open in the wind.
Pouliot wisely opens the show with generous shots of the islands and the sun-kissed cuties who recline on them. Other attractions include local singer Blind Blake Higgs, tot ballerinas at the National School of Dance, and the Royal Bahamas Police Marching Band.
Perry is in fine form just standing by a piano and singing "It Could Happen to You." That voice is still a real pillow. The squareness of the show is oddly bracing and reassuring; there's a professionalism and desire to entertain that need none of the hype that goes with most young whippersnappers in the so-called music business.
Shows like this make me like my job.