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Trash TV anyone?
 
Chuck Woolery and Love Connection -- let's take a look.
 
Chuck's got the perfect vehicle: Dating.  Everyone loves it.  Everyone
hates it.  He is from and of LA -- his name is Chuck, for God's sake --
so the redundance of his West Coast contestants -- let's face it, the
level of vacuity of all the contestants is abnormally high, and I can
trace such a shared trait among diverse contestants only to the
environment -- phases him not . For Chuck, California is one big small
town where everyone can at least get along, even on a bad date.  He
commisserates with the long drives some mus take to make their
connections (Lou Reed should be a guest some day). He exults in the
occasional trendy club or restaurant mention.  He indulges self-absorbed
West Coasters their hairstyles, shirts, and choice of jewlery because he
knows that Hollywood has forced such trifles upon them for the same
reason it summarily canned Chuck when he refused to replace his aging,
letter-turning wife on The Wheel of Fortune years ago:  Image is
everything.
 
Chuck's journey through the highs and lows of daytime television hasn't
embittered him as it has, say, Bob Eubanks.  He has honed his craft so
that, with extensive editing, Love Connection sparks and crackles.  If a
chick jabs and the dude is too flacid to parry, Chuck jumps in with an
easy question for the guy to parlay into some semblance of rebuttal.  If
two contestants are IQ equals, Chuck removes himself from the fray,
smiling, and gently prods the couple from one dating venue to the next,
tossing out left-field asides, chiding the audience, keeping control.  If
the date was a success, Chuck revels in the chemistry, allowing the
lovebirds the opportunity to stroke one another's ego so that maybe next
time, the date won't end with a "massage" and a "peck on the cheek."
 
Which brings us to the Language of Love. "We gave each other massages"
equals heavy, heavy petting with possible intercourse. "We slept in the
same bed but he didn't do anything he was a perfect gentleman" means, you
guessed it.  "The kiss took 45 minutes" translates into a tantalizing
grope. The Language of Love, along with Chuck's double breasted demeanor
(Note: Chuck has forsaken the "t-shirt and a blazer" in the move from
3:30 to prime-time -- an obvious Letterman analogy and possibly the best
signal that a show has been targeted for greatness by media big wigs), is
the distillation of all that is right and good with Love Connection.   In
the midst of the most "in your face" hour of television, an hour packed
with Current Affair, Cops, Entertainment Tonight, Rescue 911, Hard Copy,
and local news, Love Connection allows us to make our own judgment based
on "the facts" of a date.  It frees minds.  It does not brow-beat.  It
tantalizes. It is a low-key, family-fare venue for our romantic
imaginations. . . .
 
Imagine a place where young and old alike work hard all week, submitting
themselves to nine-to-five anonymity for the chance at the True Love that
starts with a little kiss.  Being a baggage handler is secondary to the
fact that this fat guy really digs that smiling woman.  Her dead-end job
at an insurance company and two failed marriages is but a typed line
below her glowing face and teased hair and her funny aside about men who
shave their feet.  People are important in Love Connection Land, and
everyone has a match, and will find that match when their jobs and their
insecurities are shed for just one day by the magic hand -- the hand of
Love -- the hand of Chuck.
 
Plus it's a great hybrid of game show and talk show formats.  There is
audience participation, a batch of new faces each day, winners, losers,
personalities, and wagering possibilities. There is a reason The Price Is
Right (another personal favorite) has lasted so long, and Love Connection
taps into this same game-show "cross-section of America" ethos.  The
contestants are black and white with a few yellows and reds thrown in,
young, middle-age, and old. They are excited.  The show is "live" and the
unexpected hangs like a day-glo shirt on the one-size-fits-all mannequin
that is Love Connection.
 
At the center of it all is Chuck, the aging hippie father (I can see him
plain as day hanging with John Davidson in 1972 comparing flares), with
his "two-and two (Genesis 7:9 -- remember Noah?)," his "tell me what you
thought when he walked in the door," his "hope all your dates are good
ones."  Chuck is the new-age guru of old-fashioned romance, keeping the
dream alive in the '90s.
 
"The talk show and talk show host of the decade" or "the best way to
spend a half hour before re-runs of Roseanne?"  Or is the question
redundant?
 
- CK