Over at mon autre blog I have an episode of Blansky's Beauties, the bomb Garry Marshall created for ABC in 1977 to get in on the "jiggle" craze, and one of the worst shows ever created by someone who had two top-ten hits on the air (granted, there aren't many people who have had two top-ten hits at once).
One reason I'm kind of fascinated by Marshall's shows is, as I said before, that no TV producer has ever been more open and unabashed about doing whatever it took to cash in on current trends and appeal to whatever he thinks the audience will go for at a particular moment in time. Every TV producer does it, of course, but they usually try to disguise it a bit. With Garry there's no disguise, and after 1975 or so, no attempt to give any show a consistent style or tone; any joke, story, stunt or actor who will boost the show's demographic profile is in. Combine that with his tendency to create multiple roles on multiple shows for actors he liked for one reason or another -- Eddie Mekka, Scott Baio, Lynda Goodfriend -- and his staffing of every show with his siblings and other relatives, and you've got one of the strangest TV mini-empires of the '70s, but one that in its way sums up pop culture in that era. Plus it shows Marshall's penchant for never wasting an idea, however bad, because after this was rightly cancelled, he re-tooled the same idea -- Las Vegas showgirls living in a house with Scott Baio -- into Who's Watching the Kids? a family-friendly show for NBC, starring Baio, Goodfriend and Caren Kaye as the same characters under different names.
But the kitchen-sink approach didn't work for Blansky's Beauties. For one thing, the pandering was just too obvious even by his standards. For another thing, the re-tooled Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley were both run by the writing team of Mark Rothman and Lowell Ganz; they were probably the best writers on Marshall's team, and they ensured that the first multi-camera season of Happy Days was really funny and Laverne worked right out of the gate. They were not involved with Blansky's Beauties. (Ganz later came back to run Happy Days and brought it back to a certain level of respectability after the low point of the post-shark-jump seasons; he's the main reason why the show wasn't that bad after Ron Howard left, and Howard was impressed enough that he made Ganz and his new writing partner, "Babaloo" Mandel, his regular writing team.) The level of the writing is like a bad '60s sitcom crossed with a bad '70s sitcom.
Here as an extra is the opening of the Blansky's Beauties pilot episode, which Marshall directed himself. Shades of Happy Days, the pilot was one-camera, the series switched to multi-camera with an audience.
You'll notice that every episode of this thing began with a different pre-credits joke. Here's one where, as on L&S, Marshall and ABC inexplicably try to convince us that Eddie Mekka is a sex symbol.