Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Tuesday Tuneage
The Ozark Mountain Daredevils - “If You Wanna Get To Heaven”

While early on into my viewing of the excellent Ozark on Netflix, a thought flashed in my mind : Jason Bateman’s quick-thinking, scheming financial planner/money launderer Marty Byrde is Jason Bateman’s quick-thinking, scheming con artist/high school student Matthew Burton from the mid-eighties sitcom It’s Your Move all grown up. Before the protagonist in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, the great - albeit never recognized as such - Generation X antihero was Matthew Burton. The only precedent I can think of the sleazy Mike “Don’t forget the fourteen-point spread” Damone in Fast Times At Ridgemont High. We Gen Xers simply didn’t have guideposts back then. (Alex P. Keaton doesn’t count.) Hell, we weren’t even called “Generation X” yet. Me, I loved having a kid about my age on TV throwing wrenches into the system’s works.

Never heard of It’s Your Move? It only lasted eighteen episodes*. I remember watching it in summer reruns, which is odd as looking back I assumed it had already been cancelled by that time. Guessing the networks would just play whatever shows they had in the can to fill prime time summer nights. (Ah, those heady days long before reality television reared its ugly head.) For me during those college years, summer reruns were handy as I could catch up on those shows I missed nights at school studying.

Proof that Jason Bateman is playing the same character on two different shows decades apart? Marty Byrde and Matthew Burton have the same initials. Obviously Matthew Burton got into a scrape in California and angered the wrong people. To avoid a bunco charge or something more sinister, he changed his name to Martin Byrde and headed to the Midwest. His tale is eventually picked up in Ozark. Matthew Burton, Marty Byrde … from Van Nuys to Chicago to Ozark Lake … he has left a trail of deceit and regret. And I can’t keep my eyes off of his dark capers.

Note: It’s Your Move is available on YouTube.

*A clue to why such an offbeat, subversive show didn’t take off: I asked my Mom in the summer of ‘85 whether she watched it. She simply said: “I don’t like that kid.