Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Saturtainment: Matinee at the Bijou (1980)

When you think of PBS, what comes to mind? Sesame Street, Nova, Masterpiece Theatre, Electric Company, and so on. In 1980, the network decided to do something about that.

Matinee at the Bijou was an anthology series that sought to recapture the spirit of Saturday afternoons (or mornings) spent at the movie theatre back in the day. In a compact 90 minute package, Matinee mixed together long forgotten cartoons, short subjects, serials, and features, all of them in the public domain. Actor-singer Rudy Vallee performed the show's title song, but, sad to say, that isn't available on YouTube right now.

Plans were afoot as much as 2 years ago to revive the series, with Debbie Reynolds as series host, but as of this writing, it appears the revival is in turnaround, which is a shame, because in its heyday (1980-5), Matinee was a terrific alternative to sports programming and other syndicated fare.

Charlie McHenry offers up a piece of Matinee's past, with Spike Jones and his group performing "Pass the Biscuits, Mirandy", from 1942. I think there will be a plug at the end of the video for the above mentioned revival........

Rating: A-.


magicdog said...

Oh how I remember this!

I watched it every week! It was a great insight into how the movies used to be like. My parents had those notions when they spent up to a quarter to spend the entire afternoon at the local theatre (my dad spent his time at the Rivoli Theatre in Brooklyn). To get so much entertainment for one price is inconceivable now!

I can also hear Rudy Vallee's voice in my head when I think of this show! He was still alive at that time and it was rather cool to hear an old timer like him being a part of what was once contemporary with his career.

I also remember the images of the opening credits, as it showed a dilapidated theatre in some small town, then it magically returned to its former glory to begin the show. Then the closing credits reversed it, with the once great theatre turning back into the abandoned state once the fun was over.

It's a shame a revival appears to have been rejected, as Debbie Reynolds would have made a great host to a new generation of potential cinema buffs.

hobbyfan said...

There was a blogspot site devoted to a potential revival, but there hasn't been anything fresh there in months.

Matinee at the Bijou was great fun. I remember one serial from that era, Bela Lugosi's "The Phantom Creeps", and not much else. It's just too bad even PBS won't go for a revival....