Monday, May 11, 2009

Friday on My Mind

Back on 1980, the big brains at the ABC television network came up with the idea for a show called Fridays. The idea was it would be exactly like NBC's Saturday Night Live, except it would air one night earlier. I couldn't tell you if it was funny or not; although I vaguely remember watching a bit of it, I don't recall any specifics, and it's not been rerun since the 1980s, nor released on video.

The putative breakout star of Fridays was a guy named Mark Blankfield, who parlayed that notoriety into the starring role in the 1982 film Jekyll and Hyde... Together Again. Since then, he's been doing things like guest-starring on Charles in Charge and starring in the TV movie The Jerk, Too. By far the biggest talents on Fridays were Michael Richards and Larry David. It's not surprising that David failed to break out, though, since he's a brilliant writer but such a poor comic actor.

The one way in which Fridays tried to differentiate itself from SNL was through edgier comedy, such as a cannibalistic skit set in a zombie diner, which supposedly resulted in six ABC affiliates to stop carrying the show. This attitude also lent itself to the musical acts, which is why I mention this series at all. I recently saw the Pretenders lighting up a song called "Louie, Louie," their third number in their Fridays appearance on September 18, 1981. Live performances by the original Pretenders quartet are hard to come by, but all the ones I've seen have been scorching.

Fridays also featured acts like the Jam, Split Enz, the Tubes, Jim Carroll, Rockpile, and the Clash in their first time on AmericanTV in April 1980, shortly after London Calling came out. A DVD of Fridays musical performances would be totally hot. Supposedly, Michael Richards has the right to sign off on any DVD release of the show, which doesn't make any sense to me, since he wasn't a big deal back when it was airing.

Fortunately, a bunch of this stuff is on YouTube. Come on, Kramer, pull the trigger; here's what we're missing: