We might as well finish off the network sweepsprogramming. After offering Tom Clancy and Stephen King, ABC gives us And the Beat Goes On: The Sonny and Cher Story (Monday, February 22; 9 to 11 p.m.). How you react to this music-filled biopic, based on the late Sonny’s own book, will depend on the longitude of your memory and the latitude of your generosity. And some of us still fondly remember their CBS variety show, especially a production number in which they grafted Gilbert and Sullivan onto the Pentagon Papers (with Ken Berry singing “I am the publisher of the New York Times,” etc.). So they weren’t into drugs or Satanism. Neither was I. So the music he wrote and she sang wasn’t sixties-political. Neither was Chubby Checker. But all by herself Cher has always been political, as well as polymorphous perverse: the template for Madonna and Michael Jackson, not to mention David Bowie and RuPaul.
See Sonny (Jay Underwood) and Cher (Renee Faia) meet cute (at a lesbian bar). When Phil Spector (Christian Leffler) first hears her (actually the voice of Kelly Van Hoose Smith), the look on his face is as amazed as the look on David Letterman’s (Tom Frykman) is baffled and the look on Little Richard’s (Walter Franks) is Holy Roller-walrus. Surely, after “I’ve Got You (Babe),” it must be emblematic of something or other about the pop-culture Identity Exchange that Sonny ended up Republican and Cher ended up camp.