Picks and Pans Review: Jack Paar Comes Home
The '60s, Jack Paar says, were "a golden age of people," and he proceeds to prove the point with clips from his magnificent old show: Bill Cosby making his TV debut as a stand-up comic (he wasn't bad); teenage Liza Minnelli singing under a pseudonym, Düjy Landgar, so the audience wouldn't know who this newcomer's mother was; her mother, Judy Garland, telling Jack stories from her days on the road; Richard Burton telling about the night Winston Churchill came to see him play Hamlet; and Richard Nixon proving that, yes, he had a sense of humor. Dick also sat down to the piano to play a tricky ditty he'd written (he wasn't so good). Before Paar left NBC in 1965 he was still coming on the air after my bedtime. But through whining or fraud, I managed to stay up to watch him once in a while. And I still think that Jack Paar is one of the reasons I love TV so much today. He invented a certain kind of American charm. He made TV relaxing and simply entertaining to watch. And his guests all seemed more interesting than guests do today—perhaps because they were more interesting or perhaps because these days, with more talk shows on TV than commercials, anybody can be a guest; the standards are down. In his return to NBC as a talk show host, Paar is every bit as charming as ever, and his show is again entertaining. I wanted this one to go on for hours, even seasons. Now this is nostalgia.