Thursday, November 12, 2009


A couple of weeks ago I had a sudden and unsummoned memory of a show I watched when I was a kid and today I remembered to hunt it down. That’s the kind of busy lifestyle I lead, suckas.

It really was a special show, so take my hand (not so hard!) and come revisit THAT’S INCREDIBLE!

THAT’S INCREDIBLE! was a 1980s program wholly devoted to showcasing INCREDIBLE things, which as often as not turned out to be mildly interesting things or just filler. 

Here’s a clip of an episode intro. Highlights include:

1- The opening moment which combines awful audience screaming with the finest font ever developed for network television.

2- A studio set entirely composed of shades of brown, camel, beige, mushroom and mustard.

3- Co-host John Davidson’s Power Stance ™ at 0.9 and his Bold & Beautiful hair and face.

4- The jawdropping promise of showing us “the world’s most incredible talkers”.

5- Co-host Cathy Lee Crosby’s uncomfortable torso swivelling and restless arms during her intro (0.19), which shout “awkward eight-year-old in the back row of the end-of-year choir concert”.

6- The fashion sense of Jim Bullet Bailey’s glove-putter-onners.

7- Jim Bullet Bailey.

8- Fran Tarkenton, a man who has a) a woman’s name, b) Travis Bickle’s smile, c) Alan Partridge’s hair and suit.

9- Davidson’s walk at 0.50, where his legs akimbo Power Stance ™ is supplanted by the floppy-handed, stoop-shouldered stumble of a man who downed a few white wine spritzers before tonight’s broadcast.

10- Tarkenton’s walk at 0.52, where he ignores the fact that the studio stairs are a bit too short and therefore require small steps rather than manly strides. The result is that his hair ends up beating like wings.

11- Crosby’s hurried walk a second later, where she looks like she’s running for the elevator.

12- Tarkenton’s excited fake banter to his co-hosts at 1.00, where he is clearly telling an INCREDIBLE! anecdote, possibly of a slightly bawdy nature. In case you can’t tell, Tarkenton was the ‘funny’ one of the group.


14- The parachutists and the flames that follow, but they’re par for the course. At this point, I’m still thinking about THE THING THAT HAPPENED AT 1.09

15- The totally different audience and studio they cut to just before the clip ends.

Let’s have a look.

What I really loved about the show was the pure sense of wonder to which it appealed. There are plenty of similar things today but they always seem either cynical, embarrassedly ironic or just plain cruel. THAT’S INCREDIBLE! was the televisual equivalent of your friend who is always sending you links to the MOST AMAZING/HILARIOUS THING ON THE INTERNET OMFG!!!! It was so excitable it made you excited too, even if you were just watching cats playing in the kitchen. In fact, I think that THAT’S INCREDIBLE! is probably partly responsible for much of the shape of our culture today, but it is of an Eden-like innocence to which we can never truly return. Goodbye, my old Fran.

1 comment:

Andy said...

I think of the great legacy of "That's Incredible!" as one of the TV show names Henry Rollins shouts out in "TV Party." I can't hear it without thinking next "MONDAY NIGH' FOO-BALL!"