Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tuesday Tuneage
The Gap Band - "Oops Upside Your Head"

(EDITOR'S NOTE: In this blog post I discuss an episode of The White Shadow. If interested, you can watch this episode in its entirety on YouTube.)

The other night, in honor of Minnesota playing UCLA in the opening round of the NCAA basketball tournament, I kicked back and watched "Wanna Bet?", a first-season episode of The White Shadow. Why this episode? Michael Warren, who played hoops at UCLA under John Wooden, is the actor who has a major guest role as Bobby Magnum, a streetwise baskeball hustler who coach Ken Reeves hopes to bring to Carver and hence compete for the city championship.

Although I've seen it prior (including when it originally aired in 1979) "Wanna Bet?" has been stuck in my mind the past few days for a variety of reasons. To wit:

- Bobby Magnum carries a can of spray-on deodorant in his gym page. After he works up a sweat taking the local hoops-playing rubes out of their dough at a local playground, he proceeds to towel off and apply the Right Guard. Classy.

- As my brother loves to point out, the Magnum character is seventeen years old, while Warren was thirty-two at the time. This tops Nathan Cook, who portrayed Carver regular Milton Reese, who was twenty-eight during season one.

- Warren is compelling as Magnum, you can see why he went on to be part of the Hill Street Blues ensemble. His role helps make up for the total lack of lines from cast faves Morris Thorpe, Warren Coolidge, and Salami.

- This was the first "Kid transfers to Carver, plays on basketball team, but is only on show once" episode. This streetwise hustler kid was later followed by gay kid, autistic kid, illiterate kid, deaf kid, etc.

- I love that Reeves beats Magnum one-on-one after sporting him three easy baskets. And while wearing jeans.

- Hey Reeves: Telling your date that her looking better with makeup on is a "miracle" isn't too smooth.

- Reeves does better in his bantering with Sybil Buchanan. In my mind, there is an episode of The White Shadow where Reeves campaigns for a practice facility and the sexual tension between him and Buchanan reaches an all-time high.

- Although Reeves' talk (SPOILER ALERT) with a local bookmaker big shot gets Magnum out of trouble with another bookmaker's goons, there is never a scene where Reeves relates to Magnum that he did this. Yet Magnum thanks Reeves profusely in the closing scene. Odd.

- But the oddest thing of all in this episode, the thing that keeps me up at night in bafflement is this: There is a scene where the team is running laps and they chant "Bop upside the head, we're gonna bop upside the head!" (Check out the chant starting at 27:33 into the episode.) This sounds a lot like The Gap Band's chant from their hit "Oops Upside Your Head". But my Internet research indicates that The White Shadow episode aired in January of 1979, but The Gap Band single didn't come out until later that year … meaning that the Carver team's use of the chant predated The Gap Band's use of it by months!

I googled the heck out of this mystery and got nowhere. I suppose it's possible that members of The Gap Band were watching Shadow, and said: "That chant is genius, let's get to the studio and put it on wax!" My working theory is that the "upside your head" chant must have been a popular thing for urban youth in the late seventies. Ken Reeves would have referred to it as being "ghetto", but we'll let that slide.