The Dregs of Humanity
Or maybe The Dreggs of Humanity. In the depths of the 1980s, before Parker Lewis couldn't lose, before Ferris Bueller had his day off, there was the scheming, conniving Matthew Burton of the short lived 1984-1985 sitcom, It's Your Move, played by Jason Bateman. In a two-part episode ("The Dregs of Humanity Part I" [first aired 2 Jan. 1985] & "The Dregs of Humanity Part II" [first aired 9 Jan. 1985]), Matthew's idiot buddy Eli (Adam Jay Sadowsky) loses the money to hire the band Morning Breath for a school dance. Out of cash and bandless, they resort to a brilliant piece of chicanery: they dress up some science class skeletons in rock finery and manipulate them marionette style as prerecorded heavy metal blares through the sound system and careful smoke machine fog and lighting obscure the truth. Not only do they get away with it, but the band is an instant hit!
Too big of a hit, actually. Matthew pays the price for overexercising his promotional skills as new fans demand to know more. Matthew, in WAY over his head, agrees to an interview- conducted by his mom's reporter boyfriend, Norman Lamb (David Garrison, better known as Marcie's first hubby on Married With Children). Matthew sets up his skeletons again, Norman gets suspicious, and as tension mounts, it's all to be continued next week! Except... next week's show is preempted by a speech from then President Reagan (I knew there was a reason I didn't like him)! Fans had to wait for summer reruns to learn the results: The Dregs are no-shows at a sold-out concert, Norman gets wise, Matthew gets sued, and in a second stroke of brilliance, kills off The Dregs by having them drive off a cliff into the sea. And where did this teen con-man get a car? Well, Norman made enough money selling his interview to Rolling Stone magazine to buy a used car. Presumably, he had something to lose if the band is revealed as a fraud, since he inadvertently perpetrated it with his interview. So he is convinced to donate his car to the cause.
In a later episode, a newspaper shows the Dregs being posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Trivia time! The Grateful Dead used a similar puppet skeleton band concept for its 1987 "Touch of Grey" video. Were The Dead... Jason Bateman fans!?!