Battle of the Network Stars. 1976. In this age of “reality shows”, when are the networks going to get together and give us something like this again? Who doesn’t want to see self-absorbed stars with limited athletic ability and huge egos go after it. With so many more network stars now, the possibilities are endless. Who wouldn’t want to see Don Draper go up in a race against FBI agent Ryan Carroll, with Tyrion Lannister there as well?
So while I pine for that possibility, here is the Gabe Kaplan vs. Robert Conrad showdown after Conrad threw an absolute fit over NBC being docked two seconds and awarded second place. The Sports Guy wrote about this as his favorite youtube clip ever. If you grew up in the 1970’s (or you want to see just how amazingly crazy the Battle of the Network Stars was) give it a watch. So, so many things here, from bad ethnic jokes (could you imagine someone like Conrad making a Jewish joke then saying “I’m German, I want to kill both of them.”) to cigarette smoking and bad hair.
It’s got Telly Savalas making up stuff, Gabe Kaplan and his fantastic hair/mustache combo, Howard Cosell providing the commentary, the stepfather for the Kardashians with the sideline reporting, and Howard Katz, future ESPN boss, making a key ruling. After Robert Conrad threw a ridiculous tantrum and challenged Kaplan’s manhood, they agreed to a mano-a-mano run off. Fast forward to about 7:45 for the showdown, or watch it all for truly great television.
At a time when literally every idea has been used up by network television and they recycle old ideas over and over, how has this not happened yet? NBC tried something back in 2003, but that was just among the NBC networks’ personalities. The original Battle of the Network Stars eventually petered out after a decade run. To make it truly work, we need stars from different networks, who compete against each other, to come together. Let’s make this happen, as something far more important than petitioning that the Jacksonville Jaguars sign Tim Tebow.