TJGS Episode 3: Mother Daughter Songfest
Liza Minnelli is a revelation in her guest spot on the third episode of The Judy Garland Show. She's still forming as an artist and performer, still a little raw, and her presence is so..."unaffected" as one critic wrote, that I found myself wanting to be her best friend. She's earnest, bouncy, boisterous, and so eager to please that you can't help but root for her. She dredges up a that same desire to want to protect her that people have for Judy. When you watch her, get a sense that there's something very special in her, something still shaping itself, that she courageously and unselfishly (if somewhat unwisely) lets loose for all to see. I say "unwisely" because anyone up onstage in front of that many people, with so little "armor" is going to be in for some tough surprises down the road. It makes you want to fight for her and protect her so she can keep giving of this magic that she seems born to give.
And take a close look at Liza's styling. I have always thought that Rachel Berry's look in early episodes of Glee was reminiscent of Liza's. Anybody else? Am I just seeing what I want to see, kind of like when you buy a new Jeep Cherokee and suddenly it seems like everyone else has a Jeep Cherokee simply because you are attuned to seeing Jeep Cherokees???
One thing I AM certain of is that the number at the end of the episode, in which Liza and Judy dress up as hobos (Judy loved that hobo thing) inspired another duet on a certain show that any other kid of my age has embedded in his DNA.
First there was "Judy and Liza"...
Then there was "Flo and Mo", also known as "Carol and Marcia"
This episode also had another great solo by Judy, in fact there are two of them duking it out for top honors here. There was a powerful rendition of "Come Rain Or Come Shine", as only Judy can do it, and yet she would perform the song again in a later episode and that performance is just a little better than this one in my opinion so I'm going to save it for later. No, the performance I love, and that is practically perfect is Judy' rendition of "As Long As He Needs Me". Lionel Bart has been quoted many times as saying that Judy's voice was his inspiration for the score of Oliver, and so it's fitting that Judy gives the definitive performance. If only it weren't for that damn chorus towards the end and that soprano who is really going for broke. Ah well. It was the early sixties after all.
Another thing that amazes me is how natural both Judy and Liza make this canned dialogue seem when they are together. Sure there are moments when they are improvising, but then some of the dialogue is clearly scripted, and coming from anyone else would seem hokey as hell, but from these two, it seems so organic that it work in spite of itself.
Finally, a bit of ridiculousness. No sixties variety show is complete without a little bit of bizarrity. In this case it is provided by The Brothers Castro. Or, I should say it is provided by the Garland Show creative who take a perfectly charming, if somewhat "rough" act and turn it into this weird kind of Hollywood version of "Ole Mexico" that you can't help but be somewhat horrified and mesmerized by. And, if you haven't noticed by now, wherever there's some bizarre shit going down, the "Judy Garland Dancers" are sure to be close at hand. What the fuck is up with this mini-skirt poncho thing?