TV musicals have never been the most dignified way for stars to stay in touch with their fans. Consider Carrie Underwood’s stiff-as-a-board acting in 2013’s Sound of Music Live! Or perhaps Abigail Breslin’s choreographed nightmare in ABC’s Dirty Dancing remake. And lest we forget poor Allison Williams having to crazy-eye her way through the unintentionally hilarious Peter Pan Live in 2014.
This is in no way a recent phenomena, with regrettable TV musicals stretching back through the decades across many networks. One of the most notable—and oft forgotten—is a 34-year-old production of Alice in Wonderland that still stands as a shining example of how weird things can get when you shove a bunch of famous people into stupid costumes and make them sing and dance for the nation’s amusement.
Aired on CBS just in time for Christmas 1985, this two-part, three-hour movie—ostensibly aimed at kids—had a cast designed to appeal almost exclusively to parents and grandparents. Telly Savalas was the Cheshire Cat, Shelley Winters was the Dodo Bird, Patrick Duffy was the Goat and Carol Channing was the White Queen. The closest thing to a young hottie in the cast was a fresh-from-Happy Days Scott Baio as Pat the Pig. (A pre-fame John Stamos also showed up as Haigha the Messenger, but let’s leave that in the accident category.)