White Shadow memories: #9, 8, 7

March 24, 2016

215422In tribute to the late, great Ken Howard, and his fictional counterpart Ken Reeves, I’m spending the day counting down my ten favorite White Shadow (possibly shoddy) memories (memory 10 is here).

9. Thorpe gives Coolidge VD.
Friday Night Lights is a great show, but did Saracen ever give Riggins VD?

8. Salami the boxer
I’d rank Salami as my third-favorite player, after Coolidge and Thorpe. I think he may have gotten an inordinately high number of “feature episodes,” perhaps as a product of network executive pressure to nudge him forward as the show’s “teen heartthrob.” That effort, if it existed, never really found purchase, even with the racy “Salami has an affair with a teacher” episode. The boxer plot gave Salami his biggest chance to chew the scenery in the Italianate style of method acting, channeling DeNiro, Stallone, Brando’s “coulda been a contender” speech. (Timothy Van Patten did a fine job as Salami, but he later found his true calling as a director, most notably on The Sopranos.)

7. The guys get a record contract.
I loved when the guys sang in the shower. For me it highlighted the playful side of the show, and it was one of many moments in the show when you could see that these guys were friends who enjoyed each other, surely a big part of the appeal to someone edging into a lonely adolescence, as I was. Also the songs sounded good (though lip-synching pushed the the suspension of disbelief factor toward a breaking point). This episode took that occasional feature and brought it center stage. I should say at this point that all these memories may be faulty, but as I remember it, this was one of two episodes that spoke directly to the “highlight the white guy” industry pressure mentioned above, as Salami was put forth by record execs as the front man for the group. (In the other whitey-as-chosen-one episode, Salami was selected by the coach as team captain, creating a near-mutiny by the team, who wanted Hayward as the official team leader.)

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