info_menu.jpg - The Official You Can't Do That On Television Source

A Canadian Spoof Stars An American

Published in The Gazette, 1979

Saturday morning television is usually the last place to look if you want to find intelligent, exciting programming that even manages to be amusing.

This Saturday morning at 10:30 should be the exception, however, when CTV presents a Canadian produced special called Whatever Turns You On, a show designed for young adults that is unabashed homage to Laugh-In.

Even the guest star is a Laugh-In alumna, Ruth Buzzi, who is still as hilarious as she ever was. While the show may be geared to children, I suspect that adults will also find it amusing. I mahaged the occasional guffaw even in the awesome silence of the Green Room screening at CFCF Television.

The show is filled with riddles, jokes, running gags and a generous helping of the old pie-in-the-face routine that will obviously never lose its slapstick appeal.

With the exception of the musical numbers by hte rock group Trooper, no scene lasts longer than a minute and the energy level remains at peak throughout the show.

The show is based on a successful Ottawa children's program called You Can't Do That On Television. The show makes no attempt at being educational. It merely pokes fun at parents, teachers, television, school and most importantly, even the children themselves, who take it all very well.

Producer Roger Price summed up the philosophy of the program. He says, "We put ourselves in the mind of a child viewer. A tough week at school. Homework that has to be done during the weekend. The last thing children want to watch on Saturday morning is more education."

Price may very well be right. The cast, whose ages range from 10 to 15, are enjoying themselves and doing a fine job entertaining, if the wild enthusiasm of the studio audience is any indication.

One of the opening skits has Ruth Buzzi insisting her son watch Canadian television. The response is one that echoes from children all across the land. He says, "Awww, Mom, Canadian television is boring."

Buzzi then proceeds to explain, "Of course, it's boring.The government pays the CBC $500 million to be boring so children will watch less television."

An unusual hypothesis, a trifle cheeky, considering it is being said on a CTV program.

There are several amusing sequences using reversed cliches. A youngster asks for spinach, but his mother insists he finish up all the chocolate cake and ice cream first. Another mother refuses to allow her teenage daughter to clean up her room until she has listened to an enormous pile of record albums.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flatteryt, then the producers of Laugh-In should feel most complimented.

Several members of the cast are doused by pails of water in true Judy Carne sock-it-to-me tradition. There is one sequence that is a direct steal from the opening and closing one-liners that came at the end of every Laugh-In program.

The cast delivers the one-liners to each other, opening and closing doors of school lockers in which they are hidden.

In the middle of one particularly high-spirited sequence, the producers have inserted a film clip of Members of Parliament banging their desks in the House of Commons like children. The insert is no longer than five seconds, yet is very effective.

The hostess of the show, Stockard Channing lookalike Christine "Moose" McGlade, ends the show by encouraging viewers to call their local stations and tell the management how much they enjoyed the show.

This unprecedented request for audience response is played for laughs, but on can't help feeling there is some serious thought behind it.

Christine goes so far as to say that unless there is response asking that the show be made into a series, the children watching the shows will have to revert back to their usual shows in the upcoming weeks. 'Moose' even suggests that everyone look up the phone number of their local station in the phone book and call in to voice an opinion.

Moose's exhortations have gotten to me. After you watch the show this Saturday morning at 10:30 on channel 12, the CFCF phone number to call to register your opinion about it is 273-6311.

Here's hoping.