Sunday, November 30, 2014

Nostalgia Theater: That's Incredible! Edition

Like Ripley's Believe it or Not last week, That's Incredible! was another piece of "reality TV" from the 1980s. The series, which aired on ABC from 1980 to 1984, was deceptively simple. Every week, producers would collect a variety of "Wow, people are strange/cool/stupid" footage culled from across the country and the world, and then hosts John Davidson, Cathy Lee Crosby, and Fran Tarkenton would dish them out in front of a studio audience. Think Tosh.0 with more self-importance and less self-awareness. Check out one of the show's intro sequences:

To be perfectly honest, I can't say whether or not That's Incredible! was a good show. I saw it when I was a wee, wee one and never again after, but boy howdy, I sure do remember it being ubiquitous. While the various video pieces were hit or miss, I'd say the most incredible thing of all was host Davidson's luxurious helmet of '70s-style hair. A close second after that was the forced banter the three emcees would exchange in between vids. And speaking of the vids, here's an example of the kind of segment that was the show's bread-and-butter:

In an indication of the simpler era in which it existed, That's Incredible! was enough of a draw with auds that it not only managed to stay on the air for several seasons, but it also spawned imitators like the aforementioned Ripley's, and the revived You Asked For It starring Rich Little. While That's Incredible! wound down in 1984, it returned to air in 1988 as Incredible Sunday! with Davidson returning, along with new hosts Christina Ferrare and Tracey Gold. Apparently Crosby and Tarkenton were the missing ingredient, as this version didn't make it past 1989. Here's a promo hyping the premiere:

It's kind of strange how much cultural cache That's Incredible! has retained considering how ordinary it seems in hindsight. Nonetheless, ABC served up not one, not two, but three different reunion shows (1988, 2002, and 2003), bringing back the original hosts, and serving up highlights and lowlights from the original run, along with more of that forced banter we love so much. I couldn't find anything from the 2000s specials online, but here's the entirety of the '88 reunion. The fact that the producers were able to squeeze that much nostalgia out of such a thin premise is...wait for it...incredible.

One Year Ago in Nostalgia Theater: Archie Grows Up

Two Years Ago in Nostalgia Theater: The Centurions

Three Years Ago in Nostalgia Theater: The Fugitive

No comments: