TNB Night Owl–Happy Halloween!

Brach's candy corn. Photo by Evan-Amos.

Happy Halloween! I’m going to revisit a previous subject for tonight’s Friday Night Movie–THE PAUL LYNDE HALLOWEEN SPECIAL! Yes, my last write up on it was less than glowing. Yes it is, in fact, horrible. But it’s fun in its awfulness, and it seems an appropriate Halloween video for 2020.

If you missed the summary last time, Paul Lynde is enlisted by Margaret Hamilton (as her Wicked Witch character from THE WIZARD OF OZ) and Billie Hayes (as her character Witchiepoo from H.R. PUFNSTUFF) enlist his help to improve the image of witches. Most of the special consists of things that have no relation to that. Instead, there’s a sketch where he and Tim Conway fight over who gets to marry Pinky Tuscadero (Roz Kelly). He plays a Middle Eastern sheik fighting for the hand of an Egyptian princess…Florence Henderson. Henderson then sings “That Old Black Magic” while in a slinky black sequined gown, the metal band KISS has a concert, he sings about how much he loves kids with Donny and Marie Osmond, Betty White in a forgettable sketch, and scatters some of his stand-up jokes throughout the show. What does this have to do with improving the image of witches? Pretty much nothing. It doesn’t matter, though. This is not something you watch for the story.

Lynde was under a very pricey network contract. They tried two different sitcoms with him as the star but neither worked. To fulfill the rest of the contract and try to get some of their money’s worth, they set up a comedy special for him. Head writer Bruce Villanch knew that Lynde’s comedy style wouldn’t be enough to carry and entire special so guest stars were brought in. The results were so bad it only aired once and would have been forgotten in television history had it not been bootlegged and heavily circulated by KISS fans. Thanks to them, THE PAUL LYNDE HALLOWEEN SPECIAL is still a part of American culture. A small part the size of mitochondria, but a part nonetheless.

Question of the night: what will your Halloween entail this year?

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