Television has more than done its part to welcome home the U.S. troops who were stationed in the Persian Gulf. On HBO there was Welcome Home Heroes With Whitney Houston March 31; on NBC there was Bob Hope’s April 6 salute to the Desert Storm forces; on ABC there was the April 14 Welcome Home, America!, for which Frank Sinatra dusted off his admirable 1945 pop hymn to racial tolerance, ”The House I Live In.” On its April 20 broadcast, NBC’s Saturday Night Live offered ”An All-Star Salute to Every Soldier Who Served in the Persian Gulf.” In the sketch, hosts Tom Selleck (SNL’s Kevin Nealon) and Barbara Mandrell (Jan Hooks) forced a shy, humiliated-looking private first class (Tim Meadows) to sing a chorus of ”Tie a Yellow Ribbon” with Tony Orlando (Mike Myers).
SNL’s well-taken point was that, amid all the star power and patriotic fervor, a lot of jingoistic bombast has been aired, and the dignity of the soldiers may have gotten lost in the show-biz shuffle. The skit’s satire was a tad premature, though. After all, could the war really be over until Major Dad tells us it is? The sitcom’s season finale finds the major (Gerald McRaney) writing a welcome-home speech and wife Polly (Shanna Reed) tying yellow ribbons on the old front door. Does anyone remember that the first time Dad addressed the war, on Feb. 4, Polly went off to a peace rally? In this episode, dissent is despised; the major speaks with particular contempt about Vietnam War protesters.
In the show’s final moments, footage of real-life Marines being greeted by their families at El Toro Air Base, Calif., are intercut with shots of the Major Dad cast supposedly standing nearby, saluting our fighting men and women. Using the soldiers’ homecoming to give your season-ender a sentimental ratings boost…has this show no shame?