Friday, March 13, 2020

What Might've Been: The Hanna-Barbera Happy Hour (1978)

It is the spring of 1978. NBC is looking for a primetime hit not named Little House on The Prairie. The ideas sent to the network just lacked execution.

The product supplied to the network by Hanna-Barbera in those days were mostly reruns picked up from other networks (i.e. The Flintstones, Josie & The Pussycats) or made-for-TV movies that somehow failed to register with audiences (i.e. "The Beasts Are on The Streets").

And, then, there is The Hanna-Barbera Happy Hour, a Thursday night variety show hosted by a pair of puppets, Honey & Sis, where celebrities tried to put on happy faces interacting with the puppets, but it was clear viewers weren't interested. ABC owned Thursdays back then, with Welcome Back, Kotter & What's Happening! airing from 8-9 (ET).

Edit, 2/28/22: WB has filed a copyright claim, removing the video. In its place is a network print ad.

Celebrities in hot tubs? The Kroffts tried that several months later with Pink Lady & Jeff, and, yes, that, too, bombed, although Pink Lady, a Japanese pop duo of the day, were more appealing than a pair of puppets passed off as teenagers. Something tells me they wanted to sell this and the subsequent Legends of The Superheroes miniseries to ABC, and the "Alphabet Network" passed on both. Remember, NBC was desperate back then.

No rating. Never saw the show. We watched either Kotter or The Waltons or baseball.


magicdog said...

I never heard of this although I was likely watching WBK that night.

As they say, cocaine is a hell of a drug! That's the only explanation for this!

However, in hindsight this was likely NBC's answer to the Muppet Show. HB figured they could cash in with real life celebs interacting with puppets and freakishly costumed performers and have a hit.

hobbyfan said...

And do what the Kroffts wished they should've done, instead of teaming with the Brady Bunch. A Krofft performer, Van Snowden, was one of the puppeteers on this show.

Goldstar said...

This was basically Hanna Barbera's attempt to out Krofft Sid and Marty. Remember, this was 1978 and the network prime time variety show format was still alive and kicking. Bill and Joe must've thought, "If Krofft can have a variety show with celebrities interacting with costumed characters and puppety oddballs, so can we!". That freaky house band seemed to draw at least some inspiration from the Krofft's Kaptain Kool and the Kongs over at ABC.

The puppet hostesses- Honey & Sis - were performed by puppeteers wearing blue suits, thus rendering the performers invisible to the audience when blue screened.

The show only ran for five episodes, and where we lived (Baltimore, Maryland), the series' final episode was preempted that our local NBC affiliate (WBAL Channel 11) could broadcast an Orioles baseball game.

hobbyfan said...

It's kind of ironic in that 10 years earlier, the Kroffts designed the puppets for the Banana Splits, then got big on their own. H-B could've had this a lot sooner if they thought of it. Putting a lot more thought into it, that is.

Goldstar said...

...And the Banana Splits never appeared on "Happy Hour"? Why? They could've been the show's house band! It's not like H-B needed anyone's permission to use the characters.

hobbyfan said...

One of the great mysteries of the 70's, along with the decision to put the show on ratings-starved NBC.

Silverstar said...

Funny, that's usually the sort of thing I see after I've had a few drinks.

But seriously, folks, upon re-watching this I can see why Hanna-Barbera didn't stay in the puppet game; the puppets on this show were very wonky and wobbly, and the interactions between them and the live-action guests were almost humorously awkward. This show was hilarious, but not in the way the producers intended. Happy Hour didn't stand a chance against Kotter and The Waltons; no wonder it folded after just 5 weeks.

If nothing else, this would be a fun show to riff on, MST3K style.

As for that house band, magicdog already said this, but it bears repeating: cocaine is a hell of a drug.

hobbyfan said...

They wanted some of the Muppets' action, but it was minor league.