Sunday, March 26, 2017

Song #90: "Jumpin' At The Woodside"--Count Basie aka "Gene Gene The Dancing Machine Theme"--The Gong Show (1976)

Eugene Patton worked at NBC when the network gave Chuck Barris, who gave America both "The Dating Game" and "The Newlywed Game" in the 1960's for then-struggling ABC, clearance to debut his latest game show idea, "The Gong Show".

The premise was simple. "The Gong Show" was a comedic bow to the old-time talent contests like Major Bowes, etc. But Barris wanted not to copy the concept, but to poke the bear. "The Gong Show" was meant to be funny, irreverent, and make fun at the many times-tried show format.

Where else would the winner claim a check for $516.32 and be greeted by confetti and a very short dancer in a tuxedo?

Patton was used at times to warm up the audience before the show, and Barris apparently took a liking to Patton's dance moves, as, one day, he decided to throw Patton on stage and dance to the classic Count Basie tune, "Jumpin At The Woodside". When it got to the chorus, Barris, who by now had taken off his tie and coat from his frumpled tuxedo, would strike a pose, throwing an arm up in the air with each accentuated first beat. Patton did it first, thus Barris copied him, and soon, the judges did it, whoever else showed up on stage did it, the audience did it, and it became the most anticipated part of the show, usually occurring before the final commercial break.

And me, at nine years old, watching the show after school on Channel 29 out of Charlottesville, danced like an idiot in my bedroom. Gene Gene was my favorite part of the show. Period.

It's ironic that "Jumpin At The Woodside" arrives on our countdown just under a week since the passing of Barris, who absolutely revolutionized the game show concept on television. "The Dating Game", when it premiered, was a breath of fresh air to some, and ghastly to others. There would have been no remake of "Match Game", with its comedic air and double-entendres, without Barris, no "Tattletales", certainly no "Love Connection." His vision lasted decades, even to today, whether a show was coming out of his production company or not.

Let's go back 40 years, shall we, and watch a compilation of the late, great Eugene Patton and the late, great Chuck Barris in action. It's "GEEEEENEEEE GEEENEEEE"!   :)

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