Thursday, August 23, 2012

Los Angeles Times June 29th, 1987

Los Angeles Times

by Howard Rosenberg

They're pulling hair on Sundays.  On "The McLaughlin Group", they do it with words.  On "Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling," nicknamed "GLOW", they do it with real hair.

These may be the two funniest and feistiest shows-Biff! Bam! and Pow!- on TV.  They're certainly the campiest.  One is a half-hour public-affairs series from Washington-with battling males-usually at 10 a.m. on KNBC Channel 4.  The other is an hour pubic-spectacle series from the Rivera Hotel in Las Vegas-with battling females-at noon KCOP Channel 13.

Both are political, preposterous-and just terrific fun!  Whether it's the incessant haggling on "The McLaughlin Group" or Spike burning wholesome Debbie Debutante's face on "GLOW."  Whether its Robert Novak's reactionary spewing from Washington or Americana wrestling in Vegas for the patriotic glory against the wicked Palestina.

No matter.  These syndicated programs are TV at its exquisitely raunchiest, trashiest and tongue-in-cheekiest.  Laughs don't get any bigger or better than this.

Like so many other things in Washington, "The McLaughlin Group" is not to be taken seriously.  It's a charade, a contest to see who can be the most outrageous-30 minutes of delightful nonsense.

No wonder that, in many respects, it's a twin of "Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling":  - Both shows feature a low blows, hollering and swell acting.  If McLaughlin and his boys play their tacky roles to the shrill hilt, so do "GLOW" announcer David McLane and his girls.  As entertainment, in fact, McLaughlin's and McLane's groups and their verbal locks and headlocks are almost interchangeable.

- Both are shamefully sexist.  Only rarely does "The McLaughlin Group invite a female journalist to integrate and freshen its old-boy environment.  Meanwhile, "GLOW" is a male-targeted show whose hokey, flesh-flashing grapplers mostly wear skimpy costumes.

Mocking the male-wrestling circuits, meanwhile, "GLOW: abounds in stereotypes of its own.  Its equivalent to Commie-stomping Robert Novak, for example is Attache, the Mean Marine, a sneering Ramboette who wears combat fatigues and packs a .45. She's sometimes paired with Corporal Kelly.  Their opposite number is blond Ninotchka, a scheming Soviet who projects a pre-glasnost vision of the Kremlin.

How rotten is Ninotchka?  So rotten that she, the battle-garbed Palestina (who is billed as a Syrian Terrorist) and that "hot Latin fighter" Spanish Red (who is probably a Sandinista) recently ganged up on poor red-white-and -blue Americana.  On both shows, moreover, speed is essential.  You have to be fast of foot, to survive "GLOW" and fast of tongue to survive on "The McLaughlin Group."  With McLauglin,  you talk fast or you don't talk at all.

Actually, McLaughlin and his boys could learn a few things from GLOW about the powers of persuasion.  The recent tag-team match between the Heavy Metal Sisters (Spike and Chainsaw) and the Cheerleaders (Debbie Debutant and Susie Spirit), for example, was a rematch of a previous clash when Spike tried to bite off Debbie Debutantes toe.

The rematch was brutal, with Susie and Debbie ultimately over coming the dirty tactics of the Heavy Metal Sisters.  Debbie had finished her victory cartwheels and in triumph when Spike- a blondhag- somehow flashed a flame at Debbie and severely burned her face.

"Spike has burned Debbie Debutante's face!" announcer Mclane screamed as distraught Susie Spirit bolted into the ring to assist her crumpled partner.  "Oh, nohhh, Oh my, this is a disgrace!  Get somebody here, please.  Debbie Debutantes face has been burned."

Poor Debbie hid her hideously burned face in a towel as paramedics carried her off on a stretcher, while Chainsaw cheered.

There have been other classic "GLOW" matches, Tina Ferrari and Ashley (T&A) battling Chicago's streetwise Soul Patrol, Sally the Farmers Daughter and Olympia facing those tramps Hollywood and Vine, Matilda the Hun besting Mt. Fiji and Spanish Red versus Little Feather, who seemed on the verge of loosing her bra top as well as the match,

Yet nothing topped the international significance of the recent "Syrian Stretcher Match" between the upstanding Americana and the vicious Palestina.

"This is America verse Syria."  McLane announced, as the crowd's chants of "U.S.A" filled the big room.  Palestina began by spitting at Americana.  Then she bit Americana on the calf.  It was horrible.  Americana goodness ultimately prevailed, however, as she ended the epic struggle by strapping the battered Palestina into a stretcher and having her carted from the ring.

But not before Palestina again spat at Americana and snarled in the broken English "You will meet me in hell, Americana!" lousy terrorist.

TV on Sunday: Politics and parody, brevity and levity.

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