for a credit, Jim Bray (sadly) has no mention in this review. But I have
chosen to include it so fans can get a sense of what the show was all about.
THE BIG SHOW
With Gary Coleman, Steve Allen (hosts), Alexander Gudunov, Steve Martin,
Peggy Fleming, Loni Anderson, Cynthia Gregory, Graham Chapman, Mimi Kennedy,
Charlie Hill, Owen Sullivan, Adolfo Quinones & Shabba Do, Gallagher,
Mummenshanz, Dionne Warwick, Jim Bray, Dancing Waters, Jerry Dye, Greg
Lewis, Jimmy Martinez, David Winters Dancers
Supplier: Nick Vanoff Presents
Producers: Vanoff, William O. Harbach
Director: Walter C. Miller
Writers: Gary Belkin, Bill Dana, Jim Fisher, Jim Staahl, Frank Peppiatt,
Barry Adelman, Barry Silber, Allen
120 Mins, Tues (4) 9PM
NBC-TV's latest attempt to revive variety on TV turned out to be a sort of
Ed Sullivan show with live hosts. The biggest thing about "The Big Show" was
the sets--a large ice rink and an Olympic-sized swimming pool with dancing
The two-hour opener (the rest of the this season's show will run 90 minutes)
had "Different Strokes" star Gary Coleman and Steve Allen as hosts. There
was no surprise in the latter's suave and gentle handling of his role. But
Coleman's poise and lively acceptance of a role without the guidelines of a
scripted character added special credit to an unusually gifted black child
performer. His instincts for timing and pacing are thoroughly adult, but
despite those traits, he always manages to retain the charm of a child.
The show itself was a mélange of skits, ice-skating, singing and dancing.
Alexander Godunov, the recent Soviet defector, dipped into his classical bag
with expected grace and Adolfo Quinones ked his comedy dance troupe through
an overly patterned routine. He and the group might be well advised to
forego some of that choreography for some straight dancing and let the
movement take care of the art, rather than the other way around. Peggy
Fleming was her usual graceful self in her number and the water ballet would
have warmed the heart of Billy Rose, so closely did it ape his old Aquacade
Dionne Warwick sang "Deja Vu" and "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" with
warmth and familiarity.
But the heart of a variety show is still its comedy. The preem had some up
moments and some downers, but none really soared. Allen and Coleman overcame
some average material as the former tried to explain to the child how to be
a talk show host. But a skit about Hollywood pictures that were never
released and another about a Me Decade convention were so-so at best.
Gallagher impressed with a couple of comic bits and Graham Chapman of Monty
Python, who will be a regular, showed that he can enliven the weekly scene
in a skit with Allen.
With the costly setting, the show could hardly have looked bad on camera.
Director Walter C. Miller kept things moving and had his cameras in all the
right places. The key to the show's success will be the hosts who replace
the preem's Coleman-Allen pairing and a constant flow of good comedy