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The Secret Policeman's Other Ball VHS

The Preshow Entertainment was an episode of BURKE'S LAW. This was a show from 1994, that seemed like it was from 1984. Only 10 years old, it was dated beyond belief. Bad styles, cheesy music, and flat acting made this show (or maybe it was just the one episode) a disaster. Think MURDER SHE WROTE or DIAGNOSIS MURDER, but lamer. Of course, there is a reason for its "datedness". It's a remake of the 1960's show of the same name, with Gene Barry reprising his role- Amos Burke, a millionaire police chief in Beverly Hills. He didn't do much, except to make silly and unbelievable Confucius-like comments, and then bark "Burke's Law!" afterwards, like Shatner saying "Denny Crane!" This left the mystery to be solved by his son, who is also a cop, but less ancient. A poor man's STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO with money.

The original, which debuted in the early '60s, was the forerunner to the LOVE BOAT mentality; let's get many celebrity guest stars in each episode. And 30 years later, in the show's remake, they did the same. In the 3rd of its 27 episodes, called WHO KILLED NICK HAZARD?, we were treated to the stars Buddy Ebsen, Edd "Kookie" Byrnes, Anne Francis (as Honey Best!), Martin Kove, Tanya Roberts, and Dom DeLuise (a regular, I think).

Like the original series, the remake also stunt-casted, with other episodes starring Jennifer Aniston, Denise Richards, Adam West, Mike Connors (who now sells on late night TV), Polly Bergen, not yet desperate housewife Marcia Cross (the series also had Tiffani and Tori, as it was a Spelling co-production), and tons of others.

The original show, more wildly popular than I knew, was spoofed on THE FLINTSTONES and even mentioned on THE SIMPSONS.

At a convention for Private Eyes, one gets killed. The guy who acted like Bogart. And Buddy Ebsen was the murderer! But I guess a life sentence for him was what, 3 days, 4 hours, and 22 minutes?

The Random Movie selected was-


This was a concert (a series of concerts, actually) spearheaded by John Cleese (in his third appearance at RMC this year) for Amnesty International. The first thing that surprised me was that it was Miramax and it was 1982. I hadn't realized they were around that long. I think it was their first foray.

Although there were a series of four concerts and movies (THE SECRET POLICEMAN'S BALL, THE SECRET POLICEMAN'S THIRD BALL, THE SECRET POLICEMAN'S PRIVATE PARTS), spread over a ten year period (79 - 89) we had a 1982 studio-released amalgam of the first two. This meant we had some amazing stuff to watch.

On the music side, there was Jeff Beck duelling it out with Eric Clapton (and winning, IMHO), with a very young Simon Phillips on drums. Also, Donovan doing CATCH THE WIND, Sting doing ROXANNE and MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE (which, I remember, amazed some people, as he proved himself Police-less and a competent guitarist), and Pete Townshend doing acoustic versions of PINBALL WIZARD and WON'T GET FOOLED AGAIN. And what 80s set would be complete without Phil "three chords with the right hand, one bass note with the left" Collins doing IN THE AIR TONIGHT (three years later, he would perform it in London, take the Concorde to Philly and do it there the same day, at Live Aid).

But this, as amazing and cool as it was, was all eclipsed by some A+ comedy, which included Peter Cook and John Cleese doing "Interesting Facts", Cleese with Michael Palin doing Python's side splitting "The Cheese Shop", and another Python holdover "The Four Yorkshiremen" ("Luxury!"). Other players included Billy Connolly, Barry Humphries (not as Dame Edna, although he was doing that since 1966!), Rowan Atkinson, Michael Palin, Graham Chapman, Neil Innes, and Alexei Sayle (we Americans would know from when MTV ran "The Young Ones") who did a Lewis Black-like angry rant.

For a finale, Sting led everyone with I SHALL BE RELEASED.

The first movie premiered Dec 2, 1979. We watched it 3 days after its 25th anniversary, and it's still as funny as ever. The big complaint is it looks like a bootlegged show from a balcony.

A fun way to end another year of RMC. Of course, if it's not THE ADVENTURES OF PLUTO NASH, it's got to be good.

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