Love them or hate them, the Eagles remain one of the most popular and influential bands of the past half-century. Over two nights, Showtime will broadcast "History of the Eagles" (8 p.m., TV-MA, concludes at 8 p.m. Saturday), produced by Alex Gibney ("Taxi to the Dark Side").
At their most popular, the Eagles were simply in-
In a throwaway lyric in "Everything You Did," a clever and caustic 1976 song by Steely Dan, a jealous lover shouts, mid-argument, "Turn up the Eagles, the neighbors are listening." It was an amusingly apt observation about the band's sheer ubiquity during the hazy 1970s.
"Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975)" was a best-selling vinyl record, a best-selling CD, is no doubt a best-selling digital download and will probably top the charts of whatever new music marketing gimmicks emerge before the baby boomers finally ascend to that big shag carpet in the sky.
As the Byrds did before them, the Eagles married the sensibilities of rock, pop and, above all, country music. And like many country songs, the band's big hits tell a story and evoke a mood. As such, their influence has prob-
ably been more pronounced in Nashville than in rock music, where the need to strike a rebellious, adolescent pose has made the Eagles, their longevity and their legacy a target-rich environment. But when you listen to any contemporary country-pop power anthem, you hear a lot more Glenn Frey and Don Henley than you do Hank Williams.
"History" promises unprecedented exposure of a band that has guarded its privacy for some time. But if the short teaser provided for review is any indication, "History" looks like an all-access pass to a string of tired cliches. Once I heard the band described as "a journey from innocence to experience," I was fully ready to gag -- like the time I first heard "Lyin' Eyes" way back in 1975!
Bottom line: You can check out from this documentary any time you like, but you can never leave the Eagles behind.
On another note, "His tory" indicates Showtime's willingness to compete directly with HBO in the documentary business. Long an also-ran in the premium cable business, Showtime has equaled or surpassed HBO with the critical and popular success of "Homeland." It has also gone head-to-head with HBO in sports programming.
"History" producer Gibney directed "Mea Maxima Culpa," a documentary about the Catholic clergy abuse scandals seen recently on HBO. And tomorrow night, HBO's Beyonce documentary will air at the same time as the second part of Showtime's "His tory."
This cable rivalry is certainly good for documentary filmmakers and for their growing audience.
---Music of a different sort can be found on "Ring Them Bells! Rob Fisher Celebrates Kander & Ebb" (9 p.m., PBS, TV-PG), the composers famous for Broadway musicals "Chicago" and "Cabaret" as well as the anthem "New York, New York." Performers include Joel Grey and Chita Rivera.
---Cosmopolitan magazine looks for new talent on "The Job" (8 p.m., CBS, TV-PG).
---A West Coast travesty on "Kitchen Nightmares" (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
---An actress (Charlyne Yi) searches for love in the 2009 romance "Paper Heart" (8 p.m., CW).
---The hunt for the
Righteous Ones continues on "Touch" (9 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
---Love can be murder on the Valentine's Day episode of "CSI: NY" (9 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
---A cool million on "Shark Tank" (9 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
---Morgana plans a murder on "Merlin" (10 p.m., Syfy, TV-14).
---Money woes mount on "Bering Sea Gold" (10 p.m., Discovery, TV-14).
---An ex-con from Lucas' past is in town on "Banshee" (10 p.m., Cinemax, TV-MA).
Faye Dunaway portrays Joan Crawford in the 1981 screen biography "Mommie Dearest" (8 p.m., Sundance).
---Boyd wants to clear his name on "Last Man Stand ing" (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
---True confessions on "Malibu Country" (8:30 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
---Danny loses his cool on "Blue Bloods" (10 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
---Judy Blume on "Rock Center With Brian Wil liams" (10 p.m., NBC).
---Tenacious D, James Davis, Natasha Leggero and Josh Wolf appear on "Chel sea Lately" (11 p.m., E!, r), guest hosted by Dave Grohl.
---Helen Hunt, Jeff Caldwell and the Maccabees appear on "Late Show With David Letterman" (11:35 p.m., CBS).
---Jay Leno welcomes Kathy Griffin, David Feherty and FM Radio on "The To night Show" (11:35 p.m., NBC).
---"Jimmy Kimmel Live" (11:35 p.m., ABC)
reviews the past week.
---Joan Rivers, Josh Charles and Gloriana appear on "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" (12:35 a.m., NBC).
---Craig Ferguson hosts Mario Lopez on "The Late Late Show" (12:35 a.m., CBS).
Kevin McDonough can be reached at kevin.tvguy@g mail.com.