Friday, June 26, 2015

What Might've Been: Thicke of the Night (1983)

Even a programming genius like Fred Silverman can misfire.

Silverman had left NBC and was on his own as a producer in the early 80's. One of his first projects turned out to be one of his worst, if not the worst of his career.

In 1983, Canadian actor-singer-songwriter-talk show host Alan Thicke was lured away by Silverman to front a late night talk show. Unfortunately, Thicke of the Night lasted just 9 months in a doomed effort to topple then-late night kingpin Johnny Carson's Tonight Show. If there is a bright side, it's the fact that Thicke made enough of an impression in Hollywood, aside from being the husband of soap star and singer Gloria Loring (Days of Our Lives), to be given another series, except that this time, it'd be a sitcom. Growing Pains would last until near the end of the decade for ABC.

If you want to draw comparisons, Thicke, accustomed to doing daytime, might be unfavorably compared to entertainment mogul Merv Griffin, who'd also failed with a late night effort vs. Carson, albeit for CBS, a few years earlier, but was thriving with a syndicated show that now aired much earlier at this point. Like Thicke, Griffin could sing, too, and we'll discuss him another time.

American audiences had first heard Thicke, though not seeing him, as he recorded the theme for fellow Canuck Alex Trebek's 1st American series, The Wizard of Odds, around 1973. Yep, that, too, was a bomb.

Anyway, rather than strain your brain cells with any interviews, let's take a musical interlude with Los Lobos and a cover of Ritchie Valens' "Come On, Let's Go", which would resurface 4 years later on the soundtrack to the Valens bio, "La Bamba". Thicke introduces the band.

Funny thing. Thicke's repertory company included Gilbert Gottfried (ex-Saturday Night Live) and a couple of guys who later became icons in their own right. Arsenio Hall, who's had a couple of late night turns himself, and Richard Belzer, who recently retired from his role on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Thicke hasn't been heard from much since Pains and Animal Crack-Ups ended, but son Robin has inherited the musical genetics, plus a gift for controversy.

Rating: D.

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