For You '80s Lovers, VH1 Serves up '70s

Having caught the public's fancy with I Love the '80s, VH1 dialed the way-back machine a bit further for its newest five-part nostalgia trip.

I Love the '70s, a weeklong look at the Me Decade set to surface on the channel next month, reunites many of the cultural commentators who weighed in on the Reagan years, including The Daily Show's Mo Rocca and Hal Sparks of Queer as Folk, in a similar format.

The History Channel it isn't. Rather than go through the important cultural or musical events of a given year — as VH1's Behind the Music installments on seminal periods in music history did back in the '90s — the one-hour, one-year installments instead feature a hodge-podge of pop-culture memories from each given year. The 1973 and 1978 episodes were reviewed.

In 1973, the Easy-Bake Oven, Sanford and Son
and Lynyrd Skynyrd reign, while the 1978 installment touches on Grease
and Saturday Night Fever, the electronic game "Simon" and the disco-vs.-rock 'n' roll culture war.

Much of the celebrity reminiscing is entertaining, but some of the choices are kind of strange. For instance, one wonders whether SportsCenter's Stuart Scott — who expounds upon the blaxplotation influence of 1973's James Bond film Live and Let Die
— was old enough to be attending Bond movies 30 years ago.

Other stars fail to bring much to the table. Jillian Barberie of Fox NFL Sunday
fame adds about as little to these episodes as she does to autumn Sundays.

The best parts are reflections from folks old enough to remember the era — like the cast of the public-TV kids show Zoom, The Price Is Right's Bob Barker and Greg Fitzsimmons of Whose Line Is It Anyway?
The archival footage is also well chosen, though the music could have been a little more era-appropriate (psychedelic pop in '78?).

And speaking of '78, that installment spends a full segment on that age-old high-school question of who's better — Led Zeppelin or The Who? That argument could have been made at any point during the decade. Disco and classic-rock artists get their due, but the other significant musical movement of the late '70s — punk/new wave — gets short shrift in '78. Maybe The Clash, Blondie or The Ramones will make appearances in '79?

I Love the '70s will run at 9 p.m. Aug. 18 to 22 on VH1.

Michael Demenchuk

Mike Demenchuk has served as content manager of Broadcasting+Cable and Multichannel News since 2016. After stints as reporter and editor at Adweek, The Bond Buyer and local papers in New Jersey, he joined the staff of Multichannel News in 1999 as assistant managing editor and has served as the cable trade publication's managing editor since 2005. He edits copy and writes headlines for both the print magazine and website, wrangles the occasional e-newsletter and reviews TV shows from time to time. He's also the guy to bother with your guest blog, Fates & Fortunes and Freeze Frame submissions.