In 2016, the landscape of broadcast television is such that viewers may not always know exactly what to expect, but they can generally count on the fact that they won’t be getting anything that falls under the banner of “WTF programming.” This was absolutely not the case in the late 1970s, a time period that famously—actually, let’s go ahead and make that infamously—brought viewers the train-wreck trifecta of ABC’s Paul Lynde Halloween Special in 1976, CBS’ Star Wars Holiday Special in 1978, and NBC’s Legends Of The Superheroes in 1979.
While the Star Wars Holiday Special remains a fascinatingly ill-conceived piece of programming, one might reasonably presume that CBS would’ve learned its lesson earlier in 1978, when it delivered unto its viewership Hanna-Barbera’s All-Star Comedy Ice Revue, an hour of television so thoroughly odd that you’d be well within your rights to scour the credits for the name “Magic Jackson Jr.”
Co-hosted by the unlikely pairing of country music superstar Roy Clark (Hee Haw) and sitcom mom Bonnie Franklin (One Day At A Time), Hanna-Barbera’s All-Star Comedy Ice Revue focused on Fred Flintstone getting the celebrity-roast treatment on his birthday, with other human guests including The Sylvers, British comedians Mike Course and Bob Young, ice skater Sashi Kuchiki, the Fenton family, and the one and only Ice Capettes.
Without daring to offer any possible pharmaceutical explanations for the contents of the special, it’s hard to imagine any sort of demographic study that determined that TV audiences in ’78 were clamoring for a special that delivered a blend of comedy, country music, Broadway show tunes, disco-flavored R&B, ice skating, and a hefty helping of heretofore-animated characters brought into a live-action setting by putting actors into bulky, unrealistic costumes.
These weren’t just any animated characters, mind you. They were some of the best that Hanna-Barbera had to offer: Yogi Bear, Jabberjaw, Huckleberry Hound, Scooby-Doo, The Banana Splits, Hong Kong Phooey, Quick Draw McGraw, Snagglepuss, Wally Gator, and The Hair Bear Bunch. Over on the more obscure side of things, the Skatebirds also make an appearance, most likely because they were Hanna-Barbera’s latest live-action property at the time and therefore they already had the suits ready to go. (As for the rest of them, it’s a fair bet that they were probably on loan from King’s Dominion or King’s Island.)
Sadly, despite getting a VHS release back in 1986, Hanna-Barbera’s All-Star Comedy Ice Revue has long since gone out of print, and it’s never received a DVD reissue, let alone one on Blu-ray. Fortunately, a “highlights reel”—if you feel comfortable using that phrase on something like this—remains on YouTube, and it provides enough of a glimpse into the proceedings that you probably won’t feel obliged to hunt down the entire special. You will, however, wonder why it hasn’t reached a level of notoriety like that of the aforementioned train-wreck trifecta, because, yes, it’s that bad.