A FAMILY THING
With The Cowsills, Buddy Ebsen
Exec Producer: Greg Garrison
Producer: Don Van Atta
Director: Jonathan Lucas
Writers: Bernard Rothman, Rich Eustis, Al Rogers
30 Mins., Sat., 8:30 p.m.
(warwick & Legler)
If heart comedy can make it, why not "heart" vidvariety? That seemed the rationale for this half hour with the Cawsills. The answer to the question is: because it doesn't come off.
The Cowsills are attractive folk whose edge on other singing families is a bit of human interest. Mom is right in there singing with the kids, and Pop risked everything to put his brood on the show biz map. The eldest son is in the Army, over there; and the six other kids (five boys and a little girl) plus the big St. Bernard are good to each other. Whole-some and clean, it's the way American families used to be portrayed in the slick mags 20 years ago, and it wears very thin in a single half hour.
The typical American family ploy stands up for a vignette or two and then, in this day and age, begins to pall. An attempt to involve the viewer personally with the kids fell flat because they were all so clean and typical you couldn't tell one from the others.
As for the singing, it's a smart blending of yesterday and today idioms, tailored for the generation gap. The problem in this little special was that all the numbers were okay but none was musically climactic, not even the finale, "What the World Needs Now."
The biggest moment didn't involve the Cowsill family but rather guestar Buddy Ebsen, who hosted the offering. Next to the closing spot, he and the little girl, Susan, teamed on "The Old Soft Shoe." It wasn't really a big moment, it was just the biggest there was. Ebsen is still very stylish on the hoof. Les