Dean Martin and The Andrews Sisters

Dean Martin and The Andrews Sisters

Dean Martin and The Andrews Sisters

IN THE COOL, COOL, COOL OF THE EVENING: From the mid-1960s to the early 1970s, The Dean Martin Show held sway as the toniest spot on the television dial. In the final hour of prime-time each and every Thursday, the party was getting a glow on, and singing filled the air. In the shank of the night, they were doing it right, and much of America was there.
But the second major attempt to recapture the magic of this hippest-of-hip series and bottle it for home video has drawn lukewarm reviews at best and ignited a firestorm of fury among fans. In the piece that follows, we cover the heat, but also endeavor to shed additional light, on the subject at hand.

“Wonderful, Wonderful Television.”

It’s the title lyric of one of those catchy jingles that served to introduce an assortment of regular segments that appeared on The Dean Martin Show during the course of its 9-year run from 1965-74 — indeed, the refrain pops up several times on the new 6-DVD Best of The Dean Martin Variety Show: Collector’s Edition recently released by Time-Life — and it’s a phrase that aptly sums up the high levels of both esteem and affection with which Dean’s original landmark series is regarded by its millions of fans throughout the world.

But with a substantial portion of the sweet sounds that once emanated from this finely-tuned instrument muted in the new Time-Life treasury drawn from the vaults of the network that first brought us the series, NBC, many are left to wonder what happened to so much of what made the show so great in the first place — the musical content.

A finale to the 9/29/66 episode that ended with Dean, The Andrews Sisters, Lainie Kazan, Tim Conway and Frank Gorshin, gathered ’round a piano — played by no less than Duke Ellington — to sing “Swingin‘ Down The Lane”.

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