Things That Shouldn’t Be Archived #9 — Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect

May 18, 2011

As you no doubt heard, the Original Champagne Lady Norma Zimmer passed away recently. This was sad news to me because I felt rather a close connection to Lawrence Welk’s stable of performers. Though I didn’t grow up during the height of its popularity, The Lawrence Welk Show reruns have been a staple of Public Broadcasting for decades. And, I don’t know if this makes me sound incredibly cool or like the nerdiest loser around, but, I spent many a Saturday evening in college eating dinner with the show and concocting elaborate, imaginary backstories for the performers, stories full of dark character flaws and tense relationships that betrayed their happy family onscreen presentation.

Ah, youth! And the entertainment options of the low income college student! Anyway, one of the actually interesting things about watching Lawrence Welk was seeing all of the patterns and repetitions that occurred over the years, or even within shows: Costumes and sets re-used, camera angles and edits (and the same exact camera progression used for the first half of a song and the second half), and the Welkian set of standard songs.

Unfortunately, the same way that costumes get a little threadbare over the years, the songs, too, seemed to follow a natural rate of decay. Whereas it may start out as something actually pleasant, like this:

Neil LeVang

It would soon degrade into well intentioned kitsch, if a blandly literalized interpretation. Though you can’t help but love the twins:

Otwell Twins and Aldridge Sisters

And then finally, it stumbles into full blown Las-Vegas-pills-and-booze-bloat:

Guy and Ralna

Not sure if this is the kind of education that PBS meant to provide. Let’s leave it off with some Norma to bring a little effervescence back.

—¬†Joshua Ranger