During the Vietnam War and assassination crises, American TV audiences took respite in “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In.”Now comes ABC’s “The Gong Show” (10 p.m. Thursdays) with similar appeal and current-events context.
“Safety in pure nonsense may be a winning formula in these ‘dark times’ ― a term that is referenced throughout the premiere, as when one judge jokingly remarked that certain performances are an antidote to this era,” said Todd Van Luling’s review in Huffington Post. “The Donald Trump presidency isn’t explicitly mentioned, but it inherently causes a show so clearly escapist and nonsensical to make more sense.”
“When HuffPost emailed an ABC representative to inquire whether Myers would be doing any press, the reply kept up the charade. The response: “The Host is Tommy Maitland, and he’s currently unavailable.’”
Van Luling noted that “Saturday Night Live” struggled to be funnier than the real news last season.
“On an inspired wavelength, ‘The Gong Show’ is going for true, 100 percent absurdism,” he wrote. “In a way, if you squint, it’s 2017′s Dadaist masterpiece. Confusion ― total and pure confusion ― is an admirable trait for a show to aim for, especially a network show meant for a large audience.”
And “more” on Maitland (who has a Twitter feed):
In 1973 Tommy wrote a book about his time in the British Army fighting the Mau Maus, called “The Mau Maus are Revolting,” and he also worked at a Butlin’s Holiday Camp at the same time, for two seasons, in Anglesea, Wales and Brighton.
Hugely popular in Italy, he made four of his 11 films there. Two of the four were Spaghetti Westerns, where he played the fastidious banker, and the other two were James Bond knockoffs – “You Only Live Once, To Be Honest” and “From Russia, Luv.” At the same time, Tommy continued to work the working men’s clubs across England, where he received top dollar as an emcee.
In 1976 Tommy starred in “He Wore a Dustman’s Hat,” about an upper-class city of London gent who discovers that his dad (Tommy Maitland) is a garbage worker for the Council in Hackney. This show played on Canadian TV at 4am on Saturday mornings.
In the ’80s, Tommy hosted the British game show “Tell You What,” which was a charades based adventure game. He later hosted an Australian game show called “Dingo’s Got the Baby,” in which one contestant would be the Dingo, and one contestant would be the Baby, and a chase would ensue. In 1990 he returned to England for a series of one-hour specials, called “You’ve Still Got No Proof.”
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