Friday, June 3, 2022

Power Rankings: Bob Hope specials I want to see

I watched a lot of Bob Hope over the past few months, partly to prep for this week's episode and partly because, hey, I just like watching Bob Hope specials. A lot of them are available online, but much to my dismay, some of the ones I most want to see or revisit are (to my knowledge) not. Here are the ones I really want, in chronological order, with special thanks to Wesley Hyatt's Bob Hope on TV: Thanks for the Video Memories.

1) Bob Hope Show (September 25, 1974): This episode is taped in Central Park for a unique setting, and the guest list includes Jackie Gleason and Glen Campbell. You had me at Gleason, but this is the rare special that Hyatt gives a full five stars to in his book.

2) Bob Hope's Bicentennial Star-Spangled Spectacular (July 14, 1976): Bicentennial mania gripped the nation, and of course Hope was there to capitalize with a collection of historically themed sketches with the likes of Sammy Davis Jr. and Don Knotts. The highlight has to be a Tonight Show parody set in the Revolutionary War era and co-starring Ed McMahon and Doc Severinsen!

3) Bob Hope's All-Star Comedy Salute to the 75th Anniversary of the World Series (October 15, 1978): I love baseball almost as much as I love that convoluted title. Baseball clips, the Muppets, Billy Martin, and more! There's a bit with Steve Martin, plus moments for stalwarts like Charo and Howard Cosell.

4) Bob Hope on Campus (November 19, 1979):  I like the idea of Bob appearing at some of the biggest universities in the country, like USC, Harvard, and Indiana State. Wait, Indiana State? Well, they did have Larry Bird at the time.

5) Bob Hope in the Starmakers (March 17, 1980): This storyline special (as opposed to the variety/stage format) with Hope as a talent agent is the only one on this list I want to see because it sounds bad. Hyatt gives it a lowly one star and calls it "one of his worst ever outings," writing, "Any special that includes among its guests the ape from B.J. and the Bear and dubs in applause for the creature's appearance is asking for trouble." Well, this sounds like something I need to see!

6) Bob Hope's All-Star Look at TV's Prime Time Wars (September 6, 1980): Any regular BOTNS listener should be able to recognize that title as something that would interest me. Add guest stars like Charlotte Rae and a Charlie's Angels sketch with Bob, Danny Thomas, and Larry Wilcox as the women (!), and you've got one for the list.

7) Bob Hope's Stand Up and Cheer NFL's 60th Year (November 22, 1981): You just know that in 90% of places that ran TV listings, these fancy titles were compressed to BOB HOPE (4). The sporting theme appeals to me again, and guests include Olivia Newton-John, Genius winner Michael Conrad, and, uh, O.J. Simpson. One sketch features Dick Butkus, Bob Lilly, and Rosey Grier singing a "Nine to Five" parody about football!

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