View Today's Active Threads / View New Posts / Mark All Boards Read / Chit Chat Board
American Dreams Online / American Dreams Photo Gallery
Buy American Dreams - Season One (Extended Music Edition) on DVD
|Register||FAQ||Members List||Photo Galleries||News Blog||Calendar||Search||Today's Posts||Mark Forums Read|
|New on DVD/Blu-ray / Headlines|
Welcome to the Sitcoms Online Message Boards - Forums.
You are currently viewing our boards as a guest which gives you limited access to view most discussions and access our other features. By joining our free community you will have access to post topics, search, view attachments, communicate privately with other members (PM), respond to polls, upload content and access many other special features. Registration is fast, simple and absolutely free so please, join our community today!
||Thread Tools||Search this Thread|
|05-06-2003, 08:59 PM||#1|
Join Date: Feb 03, 2000
Location: Marietta, GA
'Dreams' a rock 'n' roll nightmare to '60s experts
Forget about Geraldo drawing maps in the sand, or Peter burying his face in Saddam Hussein's nether regions. Stop worrying about how to tell the difference between the Mayflower Madame and The Bachelor. The real controversy is, what are those compulsive liars on American Dreams going to do tonight?
Few shows on television kick up more cyber-angst on the Internet than American Dreams, NBC's drama about a working-class Philadelphia family's troubled journey through the 1960s. Tonight's episode will end at 9, and by 9:02 message boards all over the Net will be lit up with diatribes by cantankerous baby-boomer truth squads complaining that everything from the hairstyles to the record labels was wrong, wrong, wrong.
''The historical accuracy people,'' sighs American Dreams executive producer Jonathan Prince. ``I don't think they ever call up ER and say, `Hey, listen, it's impossible to crack open three chests in an hour the way ER did last night. Most emergency rooms do maybe one a year.'
``But our show is an open door. You don't need a law degree or a medical degree to have an opinion about the '60s. Far more people consider themselves an expert on the Supremes or the Four Tops than they do on heart surgery.''
The American Dreams revanchists rip the show for slighting the truth in everything from the gear of its high-school bands (what fool couldn't see that the snare drums were strapped in modern harnesses?) to its references to old TV shows (any idiot knows that The Fugitive aired on Tuesday night, not Thursday).
And, please, don't get them started on American Dreams' monstrous historical libel of the Beatles. An American Dreams episode built around the group's debut on The Ed Sullivan Show implied that the Liverpool lads -- I hope you're sitting down when you read this -- played I Want To Hold Your Hand as their first number, when of course it was actually their fifth.
''A slap in the face,'' one enraged Beatles scholar wrote in one of the milder rants after that show. Another suggested the next episode might as well have 15-year-old Meg, one of the show's characters, sit down at the piano to help Paul McCartney write Let It Be.
If that seems a bit peevish to you, you obviously don't take your rock 'n' roll seriously enough. ''It's like if you wrote a term paper on the Civil War, and you began it with Lincoln's assassination, then had the Battle of Bull Run right afterward,'' says Chuck Miller, a columnist for the record-collector magazine Goldmine. 'If you handed that in at school, you'd get an F. But do it here and you get a Directors' Guild award.''
Miller is a one-man wrecking crew when it comes to American Dreams. His weekly critiques of the show's time-line goofs on the Internet news group rec.arts.tv, written under the pen name boardwalk7, rate each episode by how many stuffed animals he hurls at the screen in disgust. (Record so far: 12.) When he missed a week, the news group boiled with demands that he return.
''I know I sound like the same kind of person who sits there watching Star Trek working out the equations on photon boosters,'' Miller says. ``But I'm not a Net kook. I'm a record collector and I love music of the '60s, and it's almost like the people who write the show didn't experience the music the same way the rest of us did.''
Miller's not alone. In virtually every scene of American Dreams, there's a radio, or a phonograph, or a TV tuned to American Bandstand in the background. (Two of the show's main characters are teenage girls who dance on Bandstand.) And anytime one of them is playing a song that hadn't actually been recorded yet -- this season of American Dreams has taken place in late 1963 and early 1964 -- legions of aging hippies all over the country begin frothing at their computer keyboards.
The timeline goofs on records began literally in the first instant of American Dreams, when Stevie Wonder's pounding Uptight (Everything's Alright) -- which wouldn't be recorded for another two years -- played over a montage of kids scrambling to get to American Bandstand on time.
The bloopers have continued at roughly the same rate that kids said I-give-it-an-85it's-got-a-good-beat-and-youcan-dance-to-it on American Bandstand. Most of the time the songs are off only a month or two. But once in a while there's a whopper, like when a record-store clerk urges his teeny-bopper girlfriend to listen to a 45 rpm of Bob Dylan's Mr. Tambourine Man -- which was never issued as a single, and wouldn't even appear on an album for another two years. Even errors of a few months can be jarring to anyone who knows his rock 'n' roll history.
In one episode, the kids on Bandstand were asked to rate You Really Got Me by the Kinks a full eight months before it was recorded -- and, worse yet, a couple of months before the Beatles even launched rock 'n' roll's British Invasion. ''I guess that means the Kinks actually were the first British Invasion band and we've been mistakenly loving the Beatles all these years,'' observes a sarcastic Miller.
The fact that American Bandstand's eternal teenager Dick Clark is one of the executive producers of American Dreams only enrages the show's critics further. ''Dick Clark, quit kissing your bank book and pay attention,'' demanded one message board poster.
Clark takes to cracks like that one about as cheerfully as he would the suggestion that Clearasil causes cancer. ''We do it so guys like you can ask questions about it,'' he snapped at me during a visit to the American Dreams set a couple of months ago when I mentioned some of the timeline glitches.
Prince is more understanding, if equally weary. ''I know that for some people, the ones who really, really know their music, hearing the records in the wrong year may just snap them out of the story, just the way hearing a bogus motion may snap a real lawyer out of the story on Law & Order,'' he concedes. ``Fortunately, most of us don't hold to such a high standard.''
That said, Prince concedes he's not always the best judge of how far you can push baby boomers who regard rock 'n' roll as the soundtrack of their lives. At age 44, the days of American Dreams are a gauzy memory to him -- and to several of his writers, in their 20s and 30s, they aren't memories at all, just history.
The lack of deep roots in the era showed through in the original American Dreams pilot, when the Beatles' Let It Be, a 1970 record, was played over a montage of images from President Kennedy's 1963 funeral. TV critics complained -- well, screamed -- and by the time the episode aired, Let It Be had been replaced by Amazing Grace.
Before going any further, it's time for full disclosure: I may bear some teeny-tiny measure of blame for the music in American Dreams. I was one of the TV critics who took Prince to task over Let It Be. Probably to stop me from pounding my shoe on his desk, he suggested I send him a list of records I thought would be good for the show.
It ran 20 pages (listen, when I write about cantankerous baby boomers, I know whereof I speak) and Prince tells me his staff actually looks at it from time to time. The only thing I know for sure is that I dared him to use Ray Stevens' Ahab, The Arab, an excessively multicultural ditty about an Arab princess with a bone in her nose, and it actually turned up on the show one week.
So if you think I'm just sucking up to Prince in order to get another one of my songs on the show (see the box above), I'll understand. But I do feel sympathetic when he points out that American Dreams, for all its attention to historical accuracy in clothing, hairstyles and politics, is not a documentary. And I think the show's critics are letting quibbles over the records distract them from the fact that American Dreams is one of the best dramas on television.
''We're not trying to be 100 percent accurate, we're trying to get the right feel,'' Prince argues. 'When people say we made a mistake, when they say Dusty Springfield didn't record Wishin' and Hopin' for another six months, well, it's not a mistake. I know when the song was released; when I get permission to use it, I have all the details right in front of me. We pick the songs because they sound right and they feel right, not because they were released in the right month.''
That's why, for instance, the Zombies record She's Not There was used in an episode that took place in April 1964, even though it wasn't really released until October. The refrain -- it's too late to say you're sorry, how would I know, why should I care? -- matched up perfectly with multiple plotlines about romantic indiscretions.
Another source of musical anachronisms is what Prince cheerfully admits is his willingness to suck up to MTV-generation stars he's trying to lure onto American Dreams to play 1960s artists. He has managed to sign LeAnn Rimes, B2K, Ashanti and Usher, among others, by giving them some leeway about what songs they'll sing.
And I might as well warn you: It happens again tonight. The power-pop group Third Eye Blind will portray the Kinks, singing All Day and All of the Night a full seven months before it was issued.
''I was talking with Stephen Jenkins, the Third Eye Blind lead singer, when his girlfriend [singer Vanessa Carlton] was on the show playing Dusty Springfield,'' Prince says. ``And he casually mentioned they've always had a thing for the Kinks, especially All Day and All of the Night. And they would love to do that on the show.
'Well, when Third Eye Blind wants to do All Day and All of the Night on your show, you don't say, `No, guys, it doesn't come out for another seven months. You just say: Thank you. More.' ''
|Thread Tools||Search this Thread|