Season: 1 (The Sonny & Cher Show)
Guest(s): Gabe Kaplan and Frankie Avalon
CBS Air Date: March 21, 1976
Also aired: TV Land
Intro: Another Beat Goes On intro with meta jokes and previews of the show.
Opening Song: "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)" (Video)
Cover of Marvin Gaye (1964) and James Taylor with Carly Simon (1975)
Sonny wears a violet suit and Cher wears a white, violet, green and pink off-the-shoulder flowing dress. We can hear Cher's loud claps. Sonny fixes Cher's hair catching on her mouth. Kind of a lackluster performance overall.
Opening Banter (Video, 1:57)
They shake hands and Sonny welcomes everybody to his show. Sonny says he's been thinking and Cher says it's great that he's trying new things. Sonny comments that he and Cher haven't had any arguments on this show as divorced people (quite a statement if true; they were dubbed The Battling Bonos in the early 1970s tabloids for all their big, overheard fights). Cher quips that they split up and became America's happiest couple. Cher scratches her shoulder a lot now. Sonny says they've done the impossible. Cher says, "Yeah, selling the show to Italy." Sonny says he and Cher have inspired a lot of divorced people, "all these peoples" he accidentally says, which Cher makes fun of ("How long have you been here in America?") and Sonny does his leaning-back laugh. Sonny recovers and says they've taught a lot of a couples a good lesson. Cher says, "Yeah, settle out of court." Cher makes fun of Sonny's hand gestures. And then Cher insists she's just teasing Sonny. And he does something understood only between them and Cher laughs in frustration and says "I'm gonna punch you in the face!" Cher says the show is the same, except no physical contact between them. Sonny quips, "That's funny. That sounds like the old days."
Sappy Days Musical (Video)
This is a takeoff on the then-popular show Happy Days. Cher plays her character Laverne 20 years earlier as a teenager sitting with Frankie Avalon and they talk with a drunk Ted Zeigler about politics and the 1950s and Avalon says she'd like to see Al Pacino make a beach blanket movie. (Wouldn't we all?) Avalon jokes that you wouldn't get by just acting in his day (great self-deprecation there). Laverne laments that plastic was once just what dishes were made of and now it's in the food and Avalon complains about the changes to the meaning of the word "joint" and Gailard Sartain says Elvis is 41 and fat and so is he. There's an inflation joke.
In the flashback to the 1950s they sing some old songs and predict rock and roll will stay young forever.
- "It's Yesterday Once More" (the Carpenters, 1973) - Cher and Avalon sing the transition song while they all dance, Laverne with Avalon.
- "Rock Around the Clock" (Bill Haley & His Comets, 1954) - the full cast sings this. Cher wears a long strawberry-red (with Laverne’s curly bangs) and a poodle skirt with a tiger on it (Laverne loves tigers apparently). Her boobs torpedo out. Gabe Kaplan plays a soda jerk and does a terrible (on many levels) Asian accent to spoof Pat Morita, the second owner of Mel's Diner on Happy Days. Kaplan says they're about to lose the diner. They complain they're all too nice and dumb to save it. Avalon references Laverne replacing Laverne DeFazio of Laverne and Shirley. (Inspired, that.) I don't know who is playing Shirley, possibly one of the writers. They invoke the Bonz (the alternative Fonz) and Sonny rides in. The Bonz suggests putting on a show to save the diner. Laverne and Shirley will do The Shondells and Billy Van says he and his pals can be The Diamonds. Frankie Avalon says he'll try his impression of Frankie Avalon and nobody is impressed. They ask Kaplan to do an Ed Sullivan.
- "Jailhouse Rock" (Elvis Presley, 1957) - Gailard Sartain does Elvis.
- "My Darlin'" (The Diamonds, 1957) - Sonny sings this backed up by the male cast. Gabe Kaplan comes in as Arnold.
- "Venus" (Frankie Avalon, 1959) - Frankie Avalon sings his song and each girl he approaches faints, except for Laverne who is unimpressed. The “president of show business” calls. The network is going to save the diner and offers Laverne and Shirley a show that takes place at a Milwaukee brewery and then offers Gabe Kaplan a show as a teacher in Brooklyn. Trouble is the shows won't be on for another 20 years. But don't worry Sonny says, "We're the rock and roll generation! We'll stay young forever!"
- "Rock and Roll Is Here to Stay" (Danny & the Juniors, 1958) - the cast sings.
- "It's Yesterday Once More" (the Carpenters, 1973) - this is the transition back to the 1970s. They've all aged except The Bonz who looks exactly the same. He's over 40-years old he says but he “thinks 16.” "I'm not just young," he says, "I'm immature!" (lol). He says he's been married 8 times but still has no kids because "nobody touches the Bonz!" (That was a thing with the Fonz, except that, yeah, girls could do it).
The Prisoner: Sonny's name is Rocco in these sketches. Rocco and his gal (Cher in a big fur) talk about his possible parole after 17 years and will there be room for him back at home. Cher has a new roommate named Bernie, who it seems is more like her new boyfriend “since Lenny moved out.” Rocco’s gonna kill her when he gets out.
Concert: "Two of Us/We Can Work It Out" (Video)
Cover of the Beatles (1970 and 1965)
This is my favorite Sonny & Cher clip from all the shows. It's like one of my favorite Sonny & Cher things period. Sonny wears a black suit and Cher wears a black, one-shouldered pantsuit with an over-the-shoulder fur and a crimped wig. She looks pregnant now. They've sung this medley on prior shows (Comedy Hour episodes #5 and #25) but this is my favorite version. Sonny leans back and does his hand on his hip thing. I love the white microphones, the way Cher rocks her shoulders, the way she keeps throwing her mic, particularly at minute 1:37 when her left earring falls out. Sonny sees it plummet and they smile at each other. Everything Cher does is perfect here. She has an easy way of complimenting Sonny physically while still managing to do her own thing. Many stars.
Skit: Joke-a-holics Anonymous. Gabe Kaplan plays a joke-a-holic doing his Groucho Marx that he always does. Sonny tries to help him.
Cher Solo: "Say It Isn't So" (Video)
Irving Berlin (1932)
This is the biggest dress I remember from the show. It makes her look huge. It's a big brown tent of a tiger-like print and her hair is a cascade of brown feathers. She's surrounded by candles again. Another candle set a decade before "Wrapped Around Your Finger" (remember "Song for You" from the November 1975 Cher episode #25). Cher sang this song on The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, episode #20. I've also starred this one, even though I've called her outfit a "tiger mumu dress" in my notes.
Charlie Brown and Lucy
There's an indecipherable song they do with these skits.
+ Monday Night Ballet (a spoof on Monday Night Football, Ballet and The Olympics) (Video)
Kaplan (doing egomaniac Howard Cosell) and Frankie Avalon are the commentators trying to explain Sonny & Cher doing the Swan Lake ballet very badly. Cher plays Margot Fonteyn and Sonny plays Rudolf Nureyev. Sonny & Cher all in on this skit and it's very funny. Cher slaps Sonny when he approaches her and they replay that a few times. Sonny yanks Cher around. Hunters chase Cher around and Sonny attempts the famous Nureyev leap. The commentators keep calling Cher "the cute duck." Starred this.
+ Hawaiian Story: In a spoof of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby movies, Avalon and Kaplan are stranded on a tropical island. Cher plays a Hawaiian girl. Gailard Sartain is in drag. Sonny wears an afro and looks like he's in brown face. We should just move along here.
IGUB: Sonny yells, "Hit it!" and Cher says she doesn't trust him tonight.
Thanks to Jay for the run-down on the re-airings of this episode. The TV Land re-airing seems complete.
Highlights: The rock-and-roll musical shows us Laverne as a teen, this version of the "Two of Us/We Can Work It Out" medley is perfect and the Swan Lake spoof is very funny.