Sunday, 5 March 2017
First viewed : 28 July 1983
This was an eighties phenomenon to which I was strongly resistant. Alan Parker's 1980 film about students at the New York School of Performing Arts got a mixed reception at the time but did well enough to generate a TV series featuring some of the original cast. After BBC bought the series in 1982, the film was re-released to cinemas in the UK and Irene Cara's theme song went to number one, building anticipation for the TV series in the autumn.
My mother and sister went to see it at the cinema ,possibly because it was coupled with something else. I remember the biggest impression my sister took away was that Cara's puppies were no bigger than hers ! They were both enthusiastic viewers of the series when it first came on air on Saturday nights but a combination of not having seen the film with them and the terrible songs that started making the charts by "The Kids From Fame" kept me away.
The second season was switched to a Thursday night, coming on after Top of the Pops which was logical scheduling. Hence I eventually ended up watching an episode. Some old ham turns up at the School and puts budding director Doris's nose out of joint by taking over her patch but he is eventually exposed as a fraud. Doris was played by Valerie Landsburg who wasn't in the film. The girl who took Cara's role , Erica Gimpel , looked a lot like her but Landsburg couldn't have been more different from Maureen Teefy who played Doris in the film, a short, chubby Jewess replacing a willowy blonde.
It was watchable enough but didn't tempt me to tune in again. Already, you had the sense that the tide was going out for the franchise. There were four more seasons made in the US but the Beeb called it quits after Season 4 finished in 1985.
When the film was first screened on TV in 1984, I thought it was quite good.