November 7, 2015
TV on DVD Review: The Great American Dream Machine
The Great American Dream Machine more than likely inspired Saturday Night Live and maybe the direction National Lampoon and films like The Groove Tube went into. This show created by PBS’s own Alvin H. Perlmutter what a very thought provoking and at times funny variety show that only lasted from 1971 to 1972. Who would have guessed at one time PBS was so daring to air a show like this. This show seems to remind me of The Daily Show, it has a humor to it but it also has such an odd way of getting its point across. The show has an earnest feel but yet at times seems to struggle with fully getting its point exactly out there without some comical moment that feels thrown in. There are no 2 episodes that are like each other. This show has such an unpredictability that you are not even sure what they are going to throw at you.
The show is very uneven and at times come across as a cluster, but the fascination really provides the base that people could be invested in what is happening. This show does a great service at showing us how this country was at the time, where we meet people like an Evil Knievel or a Mel Torme. This film is also a mixture that works to an extent of music, personal opinion pieces, performance art and short films.
While the show has appearances by a very up-and-coming group of performers the one main star who was established when this show aired was Marshall Efron who was the consumer advocate of this show. The positives of this set are that this captures such a crucial time in our history, so to see where the mindset was at that time was fascinating. The humor we do get is funny, at times oddly amusing but it was funny. The other positive was that we see the potential from all involved that this show was on the cutting edge of something bigger and better. The negatives are, this show is very uneven. At times the opinions feel a little forced and not sincere, where you really feel like they are not trying to convey them to you but just say them to say them. I did love the unpredictability, but this show seriously needed some structure and at least a foundation to build on.
All in all, I would give this a barely passing grade because in the 70’s is when Television to me really mattered and produced some of the greatest and most iconic shows. (Well, I will say the 60’s may be close second or tied) But, the 70’s had a devil may care and who cares who gets offended or what is correct, this is what we want to say. God, is this missing so much today.