Monday, January 21, 2013

Tuesday's Overlooked TV: Bizarre

As you'll see, I've changed the name of the feature from Tuesday's Forgotten to Tuesday's Overlooked, which is the true name of the multi-blog meme. I've changed it to that it's more uniform with the other blogs that participate. This week's feature is the early 80s sketch comedy series Bizarre.

Bizarre starred comedian John Byner and a steady cast of underlings and was similar in vein to Saturday Night Live or SCTV, if not as good as those series at their best. Also, whereas those series were more ensemble based, Bizarre was clearly a vehicle for Byner. An uncensored version of the series aired on the Showtime cable network, while a censored version aired on CTV in Canada, (where the show was produced) and in broadcast syndication here in the US (which is where I saw it as a kid, on WPHL-TV Channel 17).

The show was certainly not high art; it was crude, crass, and rude, but had its funny moments. Although the series isn't exactly considered a classic, it did spawn a greater spin-off success. The series gave birth to the character "Super" Dave Osbourne, a spoof of daredevils such as Evel Knievel. The character's appearances became so popular that a spin-off series was created for the USA cable network and even a kids cartoon series for the Fox network.

Here is Byner in one of his recurring Bizarre roles, "pet evangelist" Dr. Enzlo Veal. Thanks!


Todd Mason said...

Was it censored for CTV? CBC wasn't censoring language nor mild nudity at least by the '90s...wonder when and if the commercial nets up north joined them...watching RIPPER STREET on BBC America, with the aureoles blurred out on women's breasts, but all the occasional gore utterly in the clear, makes it somehow doubly ugly...

Phillyradiogeek said...

According to Wikipedia it was censored on CTV, and Wikipedia is never wrong *cough*

Always interesting that there is greater tolerance for violence than for nudity.

Todd Mason said...

In the States, yes, for that last, and perhaps in some of the other more sexually repressed areas. I think the nudity and sexuality is less likely to be censored in some countries (Scandinavian? other European? Canada?) than is particularly grim least in over-the-air broadcast.

FilmFather said...

I remember watching Bizarre with my dad on occasions where he let me or just didn't care. Strangely, the only two bits I remember are The Bigot Family and one where John Byner scales a very tall ladder for nearly a minute...then pulls out a rubber glove and tells an off-screen "Mr. Abdul-Jabbar" to turn his head and cough.

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8traxrule said...

The Showtime version of Bizarre did air uncensored on at least a few broadcast TV stations- KTXL in Sacramento ran it nightly from 1984-86, and KOFY in San Francisco picked it up in 1988 (without even airing a "viewer discretion" warning beforehand!) These and other stations also aired R-rated movies uncensored around this time; I had thought that by the year 2000 you'd be able to see porn on broadcast TV at least in the late-night hours, but instead it ended up more repressed.


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