With 2022 nearing an end, this is a good time to revisit one of the year’s most popular video clips with a critical eye — and perhaps ear. You’ve seen this a zillion times. Let’s make it a zillion and one.
Now I begin with a confession. I’m one of 12 people who hasn’t watched “The Boys” — even though I do have Amazon Prime. From what I’ve learned, filming takes place in Toronto even though it’s an American production.
Speaking of “American production”, the “Solid Gold” parody was done reasonably well.
My only quibble: If this scene parodied a normal episode, a regular “Solid Gold” show would include a countdown of the top ten songs in the country. The parody’s graphic had “Rapture” by Blondie ranking at #24. “The Boys” should’ve given Debbie Harry and company *tons* more respect. “Rapture” was actually a Billboard #1 hit for the band. I’d gather Radio & Records — which was the standard for the charts on “Solid Gold”, Rick Dees’ “Weekly Top 40”, and other syndicated radio shows — echoed this back in the day.
While “The Boys” may have unintentionally lowballed “Rapture”, Harry did approve of Soldier Boy’s performance. “Holy (censored)! Epic,” she tweeted. Harry and Blondie had been guests of the real “Solid Gold”. Harry even guest hosted an episode and had George Burns among her guests.
Unfortunately, those who announced the real “Solid Gold” have passed from this life to the next. The original announcer, Robert W. Morgan — a legend in the L.A. radio market — was there from the “Solid Gold ’79” two-hour pilot special until 1986. His successors you’ve heard of — or at least heard their work: Chuck Riley, Charlie O’Donnell, and Dick Tufeld.
So — the team on “The Boys” had to find someone else. And — at least to my ears — that someone else sounded like…
…John Barton — the announcer and a producer on the ill-fated Vancouver-based game show “Pitfall”.
According to a recent report, Barton hosted the pilot for “Pitfall” under a different game format. Other reports indicate the pilot had celebrities and bore some resemblance to “The Hollywood Squares”. When the show went to series as seen above, Alex Trebek hosted. Trebek later called it one of the great tragedies of his life. He wasn’t paid for his hosting duties. Further, there were numerous reports a lot of contestants didn’t win the furniture, cars, trips, money, etc., they earned in playing the bonus rounds.
But back to Barton. I wondered — could Barton have lent his voice to the “Solid Gold” parody? It’s a long shot, I know. But if a 94-year-old Johnny Gilbert is still working on “Jeopardy!”, the antithesis of a tragedy for Trebek, anything is possible. Next thing you know, I’m heading to Amazon Prime Video and straight to Season 3, Episode 4, entitled “Glorious Five Year Plan”.
It started with a recap of the previous episode — filled with explosions, blood, gore, and expletives (read: things that would make a standards and practices representative at a broadcast network cringe — but are totally acceptable in the wild West nature of streaming). Then we go right to the proper episode. It starts with the “Solid Gold” parody along with additional scenes from certain home viewers’ perspectives.
The curious bug was biting. So — I fast-forwarded to the closing credits. I got as far as director, writer, and developer. And then, before I could see further credits (names of guest stars, further crew, etc.), the next episode instantly kicked in. Darn. The mystery of who announced the “Solid Gold” parody remains that — a mystery.
The episode’s cast listing on IMDb didn’t provide any help. Apparently, everyone who had an on-screen credit got listed on IMDb, including Jensen Ackles as Soldier Boy, who covered Blondie’s “Rapture”.
ADDENDUM 11/27/22: This WikiBin article indicates John Barton is no longer with us. He passed away in 2014. A friend brought this to my attention after someone else started a discussion about “Pitfall” — and the game show’s $100,000 set construction, expensive by early 1980s standards in Canada — on Facebook.
As I originally wrote, connecting Barton to “The Boys” was a long shot and I now have my unfortunate answer. WikiBin indicates Barton had a nice comeback after the nightmare that was “Pitfall”. May he continue to Rest In Peace.
I’d still like to know who “introduced” Soldier Boy. In the event you can provide some legit information about who really announced this “Solid Gold” parody, please feel free to reply.