Revival Survival

September 12, 2017

Someone at work this week dropped a bombshell. They announced that Countdown is coming back. “WHAT?!” I squawked. “Are you serious?” I was really excited for about two minutes and then I thought that sometimes revisiting the past is not a good idea. This I’ve learned through my own bitter personal experience.

Remember the train wreck that was Countdown Revolution? The Defence Rests your Honour. It was almost a rite of passage if you were a kid born in the 1970’s to set up your cassette recorder in front the television at 6pm on Sunday nights to record your favourite songs (so you could transcribe the lyrics later). The skill required to press the red record button AND the play button simultaneously but early enough to not miss the beginning of the song was an art form. Then there was the yelling at your siblings/parents not to make any noises that would ruin the recording. It was tricky stuff!

I loved the 40th anniversary two part series on Countdown in 2014. It was so great! So many things to appreciate that my eight year old brain couldn’t have remotely registered back in the day. How out of it the guests and Molly were, for example and that most of the acts were lip syncing which didn’t in any way take away the enjoyment of it for me. Besides, doesn’t everyone do that now anyway?

Countdown was always ahead of its time.

Countdown Revolution was so awful – truly woeful! So naturally I had visions of the new host being some former reality singing show contestant who posted photos of their kale smoothies on Instagram. Uuuurrrggghhhhh. This is EXACTLY what’s killing rock ‘n’ roll – it’s too sanitised.

Apart from Keith Richards, I can’t think of any other old (and Old School) rocker left flying the flag. Everyone else has gone to rehab, is eating Paeleo and doing yoga. Yawn.

After some further research it turns out my concern was unfounded. It’s not a new version of Countdown at all, it’s a best of series called Classic Countdown celebrating the genius that was the artists, songs and Molly and will feature the very best music from the day across 13 episodes – one for each year the show was on.

I am furiously scouring Op shops looking for a long red flowing dress so I can leap around my lounge room channelling Kate Bush singing “Wuthering Heights”. Failing that, I will settle for a black unitard and a cello to leap around my lounge room channelling Kate Bush singing “Babooshka”. So good.

When I was reading about the show, it said the ABC had “lovingly and meticulously restored” the original episodes, EXCEPT for the ones that were taped over. Whoops. Apparently during a cost- cutting exercise the ABC recycled tape and recorded over some original episodes – not just of Countdown, but of other classic programs. I guess that ABC equivalent of recording over your
wedding video with the footy.

I’m glad they aren’t trying to recreate the original. They couldn’t anyway. The mould imploded after Molly Meldrum was made. I remember going to see John ‘Cougar’ Mellencamp, as he was then at the Sydney Entertainment Centre in 1992. My boyfriend Sam took me for my 21st birthday. We were up the back behind a pole – could hardly see him, just a speck on the stage, zipping around, but God it was brilliant.

So when he toured Australia again in 2008, I bought Sam & I tickets for the Brisbane show. Not just any tickets – second row tickets.

How can I put this? It wasn’t quite the experience we hoped it would be. We were too close, we could see him sweating, he looked like he was a thousand years old… but boy could he play and he could still dance like no man’s business. From this I learned a very valuable lesson. Sometimes you should leave the past in the past. Trying to recreate it can tarnish a beautiful memory.

Classic countdown is on 6pm Sunday nights from September 17 on ABC. Goodnight Australia!

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