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The Rookies (1972)
Police procedural series...Remembering The Rookies from producers Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg
One of the most successful police dramas to ever come out of the 1970's "The Rookies" was one of the many police dramas that came from the production factory of producers Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg that premiered on March 7, 1972 as the 90-minute pilot episode for "The ABC Movie Of The Week" which became a colossal hit. Then ABC greenlighted it as a weekly series that premiered the following fall of that year. From the first three seasons of the series(1972-1974) it aired on Monday nights where it faced competition from CBS' Gunsmoke and NBC's Laugh-In among other shows that were on prime time Monday nights. The fourth and final season saw the series moved from Monday nights to Tuesday nights where it went opposite the strong competition with NBC's Police Story, and two CBS powerhouse comedies "One Day At A Time", and "M*A*S*H" during the 1975-1976 season.
The Rookies came on the success of Joesph Wambaugh's book "The New Centurions", as well as the huge ratings success on television with Jack Webb's "Adam-12" sparked interest in depth about the realistic depiction and storytelling of the typical police officer and the situations these brave men and women faced everyday on the streets to uphold the law and to serve and protect the public gain virtual interest. The Rookies was the story of young police officers(Georg Stanford-Brown, Micheal Ontkean, and Sam Melville) straight out of the academy taking on their first assignment in the fictional community of Santa Clara under the moral authority and guidance of the Lieutenant(Gerald S. O'Laughlin) who took these young rookies under his wing and taught them to be good cops.
Out of the 94 episodes that this series produced this was indeed one of the most intense and action packed police dramas of the era...so successful that it spawn a spin-off S.W.A.T that was successful too. "The Rookies" launched the careers of Micheal Ontkean, Georg Stanford-Brown and Kate Jackson. Notable guest stars ranging from Claude Akins, Ned Beatty, Joesph Campanella, Tyne Daly, Susan Dey, Sissy Spacek, Martin Sheen, Don Gordon, Louis Gossett Jr., Roddy McDowell, Cameron Mitchell, John Saxon, Jim Nabors, John Ritter, Della Reese, David Soul, Steve Forrest, Mark Slade, Nick Nolte, Stefanie Powers, William Shatner, Don Stroud, Cleavon Little, Amy Irving, Earl Holliman and many more were among the guest stars of the series that lasted four seasons and 94 color episodes ending it's run on March 30, 1976.
The Rookies were not your average supercops or over the top showoffs neither. These young men made mistakes out there and they were inexperienced with some of the training they received fresh out of the academy. Those mistakes became the basis of several great storylines as well as several great episodes that stood out. But it was under the wing of the Lieutenant that taught these Rookies right from wrong and any other situations that many occur on the streets and how to handle them became one of the great cop shows of the 1970's.
Cimarron Strip (1967)
Remembering the short lived series Cimarron Strip on its 50th anniversary
The short lived television series "Cimarron Strip" lasted one season on the air and it was originally broadcast in prime time on Thursday nights for the 1967-1968 season running 90 minutes in length(including commercials) and had some strong competition. "Cimarron Strip" went up against ABC's "Batman", "The Flying Nun", and "Bewitched" and it went up against NBC's "Daniel Boone", and "Ironside". The series was created by Christopher Knopf who was the executive producer of the show under Philip Leacock, Douglas Benton, and John Manley and produced by Bernard McEveety and Leonard Freeman for Whitman Productions in association with the CBS Television Network. The series produced 23 episodes in color that aired from September 7, 1967 until March 7, 1968. Reruns of all 23 episodes were aired during the summer of 1971 three years after it was canceled by CBS.
"Cimarron Strip" is one of only three 90-minute weekly Western series that aired during the 1960's(the others are NBC's The Virginian, and for one season Wagon Train) and the only 90 minute series of its kind during the 1960's to be centered primarily around one lead character in every episode. The series theme music was written and composed by Maurice Jarre who also scored the Oscar winning themes to Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago. The series was set in the late 1880's in the Cimarron Territory where Marshal Jim Crown(Stuart Whitman) maintains law and order in the new territory with his two deputies as assistants one was the Scotsman MacGregor(Percy Herbert),and the young lad Francis Wilde(Randy Boone) and the caring young woman Dulcey Coopersmith (Jill Townsend).
Several great writers ranging from Austin and Irma Kalish, Christopher Knopf, Jack Curtis, Dan Ullman, Stephen Kandel, Herman Miller, Mel Goldberg, David Jones, Hal Sitowitz, and Harlan Ellison. Veteran directors from Boris Segal, Vincent McEveety, Alvin Ganzer, Gerald Mayer, Richard C. Sarafian, Don Medford and Herschel Daugherty contribute to the great episodes that this series produced. Big name guest stars included Warren Oates, Andrew Duggan, Jack Braddock, Robert J. Wilke, Morgan Woodward, Steve Forrest, Royal Dano, Richard Boone, Joesph Cotton, Suzanne Pleshette and L.Q. Jones to name a few that appeared on this action packed Western series.
The best episodes "Journey To A Hanging", "The Beast That Walks Like A Man", "Till The End Of The Night", "The Search", "The Battle of Bloody Stones", "The Roarer", "The Deputy", "The Judgment", "Nobody", "Heller", to name a few. Even 50 years later this was without a doubt not only ambitious but exciting to watch too. Cimarron Strip lived up to its title and then some.
The Waltons (1971)
Brilliant family drama...Remembering The Waltons on its 45th anniversary
This was one of the most successful family prime time dramas that came ever out of the 1970's that was a powerhouse within itself dominating the ratings for the entire nine seasons it was on the air becoming one of CBS' great Thursday night lineup of shows during its run. Interesting point about this show...it premiered one year after CBS' infamous purge of all its rural comedies and other shows that were canceled in favor of a more progressive urban audience. The next year The Waltons exploded out of nowhere becoming one of the most popular shows in television history. Created by Earl Hamner,Jr. who also served as the narrator of the series as well as the executive producer along with Philip Caprice and Lee Rich under there production company Lorimar Productions. The series was based on the 1963 theatrical feature "Spencer's Mountain" that was written by Earl Hamner, Jr.
Originally aired as a pilot made for television movie titled "The Homecoming: A Waltons Christmas Story" that aired as a CBS Special Movie Presentation on December 19,1971 that starred Patricia O'Neal and Andrew Duggan that became a surprise hit winning both the Golden Globe and the Emmy for Best Original Program and Best Actress Category. On the strength and the commercial success of that television pilot, CBS gave the green light for a weekly series that premiered on September 14, 1972 and ran for nine seasons and 221 episodes until the final episode of the series on June 4, 1981. When it premiered in 1972, The Waltons exploded out of the gate dethroning the widely popular "The Flip Wilson Show" which was the top rated show on television. The result was a series within its nine season run won numerous Golden Globes for Best Television Series and the Prime Time Emmy twice for Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Outstanding writing and Outstanding Drama Series.
The Waltons was a family oriented show that started during the Great Depression and throughout the series ended with the family facing World War II. This series was on the same level as another family oriented show that contained "no violence", "no swearing", and "no adult content".
Several veteran directors ranging from Harry Harris, Phillip Leacock, Lawrence Dobkin, Ralph Senensky, Lee Phillips, Bob Sweeney, Vincent Sherman, Robert Butler, Bernard McEveety, Ivan Dixon, Stan Lathan, and Earl Bellamy along with fantastic writers from Kathleen Hite, Paul Savage, John McGreevey, and William Welch, Dan Ullman, D.C. Fontana, and Earl Hamner, Jr. contribute to some of the great episodes this series produced not to mention here big name guest stars that came on board each week.
After CBS canceled this critically acclaimed series in the spring of 1981 six made for TV-movies based on "The Waltons" were produced for NBC and CBS between February 22, 1982 until April 27, 1997. Produced by Lorimar Productions which was the same company that brought you "Dallas", "Knots Landing", "Eight Is Enough", and "Family Matters".
Tales of Wells Fargo (1957)
Remembering Jim Hardie and the classic Western series "Tales of Wells Fargo" on it's 60th anniversary
The western-adventure series "Tales of Wells Fargo" premiered on NBC's Prime Time schedule as a mid-season replacement on March 18,1957 where it became one of the network's biggest hits that started in a era filled with television Westerns. Out of the 200 episodes that this series produced only actor Dale Robertson(who played special agent Jim Hardie for Wells Fargo) was with the series throughout it's entire six season run in all 200 episodes. Out of the 200 episodes only Seasons 1 through 5 produced only 166 black and white episodes that ran 30 minutes in length(with commercials)airing from March 18,1957 until July 10,1961. Only the first five seasons aired on Monday nights in prime time at the 8:30 eastern/7:30 central time slot where it produced 166 black and white episodes. In the sixth and final season of the series saw a change in production when NBC moved "Tales of Wells Fargo" from Monday nights to Saturday nights to an earlier time slot where the show expanded to a full hour and was what NBC would say "The Following Program Is Brought To You In Living Color" and this time new cast members were added. The sixth and final season which moved to Saturday nights at the 7:30 eastern/6:30 central time slot where 34 color episodes were produced airing from September 30,1961 to June 2,1962.
"Tales of Wells Fargo" was the brainchild of creators Frank Gruber and Gene Reynolds where Nat Holt served as executive producer of the series and was produced by Earle Lyon and Al C. Ward which produced a total of 200 episodes airing from March 18,1957 until June 2,1962. Actor William Demarest(later of "My Three Sons" fame)joined the cast in the final season of the series. "Tales of Wells Fargo" as a series was a well written satisfying western that followed the exploits of special agent Jim Hardie, agent for Wells Fargo who served during the first five seasons as narrator/agent and later on became a rancher while still protecting the law and order for Wells Fargo.
Big name directors from Earl Bellamy, Sidney Salkow, R.G. Springsteen, to William Witney, Christian Nyby, William F. Claxton, to George Waggner, Boris Segal and Gene Nelson contribute to some of the great episodes. Writers were Samuel A. Peeples, James Brooks, Gene Reynolds, Dwight Newton, D.D. Beauchamp, Ken Pettus, Barney Slater, Jack Turley, Sam Peckinpah, Frank Price, to Louis L'Amour and A.I. Bezzerides. "Tales of Wells Fargo" was produced by Revue Studios(the same studio that brought you "Wagon Train" and "The Virginian") for NBC Television.
The guest star roster consisted of Chuck Connors, Michael Landon, Hugh Beaumont, Robert Vaughn, Dan Blocker, James Coburn, Claude Akins, Denver Pyle, Jack Elam, Edgar Buchanan(who appeared in six episodes). Other guest stars were Nick Adams, Charles Bronson, Eddie Albert, John Dehner, Royal Dano, Martin Landau, Simon Oakland, Jan Merlin, Celia Kaye, to Jack Nicholson, Paul Fix(who appeared in six episodes), Buddy Ebsen, to Ray Teal, Lee Van Cleef among others.
Eight Is Enough (1977)
To Fill Our Lives With Love...Remembering the family comedy-drama series Eight Is Enough on its 40th anniversary
Cannot believe that the series "Eight Is Enough" is 40 years old! The series was based on Thomas Braden's 1975 New York Times best selling novel which was modeled on the syndicated newspaper columnist who was a real life parent who raised eight kids on which the television series was based. The show centers on a Sacramento, California, family with eight children(from oldest to youngest: David, Mary, Joanne, Susan, Nancy, Elizabeth, Tommy and Nicholas). The father, Thomas Bradford, was a newspaper columnist for the fictional Sacramento Register. His wife Joan(Diana Hyland)took care of the children. Hyland appeared in four episodes before she took gravely ill; she was written out of the show for the remainder of the first season and died after after the second season aired. The second season began in the fall of 1977 with the revelation that Thomas Bradford(Dick Van Patten)was a widower. Tom fell in love with Sandra Sue "Abby" Abbott(Betty Buckley)a schoolteacher who came to the house to tutor Tommy who had broken his leg in a football game. They were married in one of the series TV Movie broadcast titled "Children of the Groom" which aired as a two hour event on November 9, 1977. In another television event two other Bradford children were married in Season four episode titled "I Do, I Do" that was originally broadcast on September 19, 1979. As the series progressed Abby got her doctorate in education and started a job counseling students at the local high school; Mary became a medical doctor,while second youngest son Tommy became a singer in a rock and roll band.
In the pilot episode, the role of David was played by Mark Hamill while the role of Nancy was played by Kimberly Beck and Tommy played Chris English. Beck and English only appeared in the pilot and was abruptly replaced by Dianne Kay and Willie Aames for the remainder of the series. Mark Hamill was replaced by Grant Goodeve for the rest of the series entire run. As far as the rest of the cast were only actors Dick Van Patten, Lani O' Grady, Connie Needham, Susan Richardson, along with Adam Rich and Laurie Walters were with the series throughout its entire five season run appearing in all 112 episodes. Dianne Kay and Grant Goodeve appeared in 111 episodes while Willie Aames appeared in 109 episodes of the series and Betty Buckley appeared in 102 episodes.
"Eight Is Enough" was the brainchild of creator-writer and executive producer William Blinn along with producers Philip Capice and Lee Rich who served as executive producers along with producers Gary Adelson, Greg Strangis, Robert L. Jacks, and Philip Fehrie for Lorimar Productions for ABC-TV airing for five seasons and 112 episodes from it's mid-season premiere(which replaced "The Bionic Woman")on March 15, 1977 until May 23,1981. Repeated episodes from it's fifth and final season aired as summer replacements from May 30,1981 until August 29,1981. The series aired on ABC's Wednesday night prime time schedule at the 8:00 eastern/7:00 central time slot which was a ratings winner. Regular writers for this series included Peter Lefcourt,and writing teams of Gwen Bagni and Paul Dubov along with Greg Strangis, William Blinn, Thomas Braden, Gil Grant, Bruce Shelley, Norman Lessing, Martin Roth, Matt Robinson, Bruce Kalish,and Paul Schneider. The rotating team of seasonal directors including Irving J, Moore, Vincent McEveety, Phillip Leacock, Earl Bellamy, Hollingsworth Morse, Arnold Laven, David Swift, Leslie H. Martinson, Ralph Senensky, Barry Crane, Marc Daniels, Gerald Mayer, Jack Bender, William F. Claxton, Robert Friend to name a few.
Big name guest stars ranging from seasoned veterans like Jack Elam, to Will Geer, Frank Cady, David Wayne, Noah Beery, Abe Vigoda and Barry Van Dyke to guest stars Ellen Travolta, Julia Duffy, Susan Dey, to Judy Strangis, Sherry Jackson, Don Johnson, Tricia O' Neal, Danny Bonaduce, Charlene Tilton, Robin Williams, Ike Eisenmann, Stephanie Kramer, Jonathan Frakes, Timothy Van Patten, Karen Valentine, Gregory Walcott, Adrienne Barbeau, Kevin Schultz, Beth Howland, Corey Feldman, Billie Bird just to name of the big name guest stars that appeared on this show.
Eight Is Enough throughout it's run was nominated for an impressive six prime-time Emmys for Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Actor or Actress in a Prime Time Series, Best Supporting Actor in a Prime Time Series and Best Film Editing. It won the People's Choice Award in 1978 for Best New Dramatic Television Series and was nominated for 2 Golden Globes for Best Actor(Dick Van Patten),and Best Writing for a Prime Time Series. The best episodes that came from "Eight Is Enough" were "Turnabout", the two part "Yes, Nicholas There Is A Santa Claus", to "V is for Vivian", "Seven Days In February", "Long Night's Journey into Day","Here We Go Again", to the two part "You Won't Have Nicholas to Kick Around Anymore" to "Moving Out", "Mother's Rule", to "Marriage and Other Flights of Fancy", "And Baby Makes Nine", "The Idolbreaker", to "Father Knows Best" just to name a few of the great episodes of the "Eight Is Enough" television series. When it was abruptly canceled in the Spring of 1981, ABC replaced it on it's Wednesday night schedule with "The Greatest American Hero" that starred William Katt and Robert Culp.
The origin of police dramas. Remembering the one and only "Dragnet" on its 65th anniversary
As we commemorate the 65th anniversary of one of the greatest police dramas of all time it is no doubt that "Dragnet" is one of the most famous and influential police procedural dramas in television history. "Dragnet" broke ground as innovative and original and from the show's first episode it became a huge hit with a cult following that still is prevalent to this day. This was a series that gave audience members a realistic portrayal of the police officers and detectives who put their lives on the line everyday for the safety of the public. Actor-producer- director Jack Webb in full collaboration of the Los Angeles Police Department gave the show the stamp of authenticity where most the episodes of "Dragnet" were based on actual cases-real cases and the full cooperation of how modern police departments work.
The program opened each week with these words of Jack Webb's character Detective Sergeant Joe Friday: "This is the city. Los Angeles, California. I work here. I carry a badge." The most successful cop drama in television history where it became one of the biggest hits at NBC, Dragnet's hallmark was its appearance of realism,from the straight documentary style of narration by Joe Friday to the cases drawn from the files of the Los Angeles Police Department to it's accuracy and attention and the details of police work("It was 4:30..We were working the day watch out of homicide. The boss is Captain Murphy. My partner is Frank Smith. My name's Friday."). Viewers were reminded of the unglamorous dead ends and the constant interruptions of their private lives that plague real policemen,and this made the final shoot-out and capture of the criminal more exciting. At the end of each episode and before the final commercial break(On March 10th, trial was held in Department 182 Superior Court of the state of California,in and for the county of Los Angeles. In a moment the results of that trial)after the criminal was apprehended,an announcer would describe what happened at the subsequent trial and the severity of the sentences he or she received.
The origins of "Dragnet" started on radio for NBC that aired on June 3,1949 and lasted for 314 episodes until July 26,1957(the radio program was still on the air when the television version was just starting out)and on December 16,1951 made the transition to television where it lasted eight seasons and 276 black-and-white episodes until August 23,1959 when it's creator-actor-producer Jack Webb abruptly pulled the plug on this series when it still getting high ratings. Then after a eight year hiatus, NBC revived it under the new title "Dragnet:1967" with Jack Webb at the helm as Sgt. Joe Friday that lasted four seasons and 98 episodes in color that aired from January 12,1967 until April 16,1970. NBC was set to renew the series for a fifth season when Jack Webb again abruptly pull the plug on this series due to other factors. It was revived again in syndication under the title "The New Dragnet" that lasted two seasons and 52 color episodes from October 24,1989 until January 21,1991. This was followed by a short-lived revival in 2003 when creator-producer Dick Wolf(of "Law And Order")launched "L.A. Dragnet" for ABC with Ed O'Neill in the role of Sgt. Joe Friday that lasted 22 episodes airing from May 11, 2003 until May 5, 2004.
"Dragnet" was so successful that in 1954 a full length theatrical feature was based on the television show in color(Starring Jack Webb as Sergeant Friday and Ben Alexander as Detective Frank Smith)that became the first ever television series to ever be made into a motion picture. The film was a monster box-office hit becoming one of the highest grossing pictures of that year. Another theatrical feature based on "Dragnet" came out in 1987 with Dan Ackroyd and Tom Hanks also surfaced(with an appearance by Harry Morgan as Bill Gannon,who worked with Jack Webb in the 1967-1970 series as Captain Bill Gannon).
"Dragnet" was the launching pad for future actors like Lee Marvin, Robert Vaughn, Leonard Nimoy, Carolyn Jones, Martin Milner, Dennis Weaver, Henry Corden, Francis Bavier, Ellen Corby, Charles Bronson, Parley Baer, Claude Akins, James Dobson, Lee Meriwether, Michael Ansara, Strother Martin, Kenneth Tobey, Fess Parker, Robert Bray, Glenn Corbitt, along with Raymond Burr, Hans Conried, Kevin Hagen, Alvy Moore, Yvonne Lime, Warren Oates, Richard Boone, and James Coburn just to name a few of the guest stars and actors who got their start on this series that would go on to bigger careers. "Dragnet" also had the intentions of using the same recurring actors in many of the episodes among them were Virginia Gregg and John Stephenson which were known as Jack Webb's regular players.
"Dragnet" also set the standard as well as the architecture for future police dramas to follow. And even after 65 years it still sets the standard for one of the great television programs that began on radio, made the transition to television during the 1950's and beyond. So here's to the anniversary of "Dragnet"..Happy 65th!!!
Hill Street Blues (1981)
The reinvention of the cop dramas...Remembering Hill Street Blues on its 35th anniversary
When it comes to outstanding dramas no one will ever come close to one of the greatest cop dramas of the 1980's perhaps the best police drama in television history. "Hill Street Blues" was indeed groundbreaking and realistic in its portrayal of the men and women who put there lives on the line everyday in order to protect and serve the citizens of the city. When "Hill Street Blues" burst onto the scene as a mid-season replacement in January of 1981, no one had never seen a show like this before and it reinvented the cop show genre like no other. Hand-held cameras,stories that lasted multiple episodes and large ensemble casts were pretty new to audiences but it didn't click at first. Ratings for the first season of the series were so low that cancellation seemed imminent. But through critical acclaim,the show grew to become one of the defining shows of the decade,one that set the standard for police dramas to follow. Despite incredibly low ratings during its first season, it surprised audiences and critics alike when "Hill Street Blues" won eight Prime Time Emmy Awards in 1981,breaking the record for the most Emmy wins for a show's first season. That record stood until 2000 when another critically acclaim NBC drama "The West Wing" surpassed it.
"Hill Street Blues" premiered in prime time on January 15,1981 as the mid-season replacement for two canceled NBC shows("A Man Called Sloane" and "Good Time Harry")and from the first episode became one of the biggest hits in the history of NBC that was nominated for an impressive 98 Prime Time Emmys and was victorious in winning 8 Prime Time Emmys for Outstanding Drama Series,Outstanding Writing and Direction,Outstanding Actor, Outstanding Actress,Outstanding Supporting Actor,Outstanding Supporting Actress and was nominated for 4 Golden Globes winning 3 Golden Globes in 1982,1983 and 1984 for Best Outstanding Drama Series. For the seven seasons and 146 episodes it produced the show became part of NBC's "Must See Thursday Line-Up" of prime time shows that included "Cheers","Family Ties","Night Court" and "The Cosby Show" for all of Seasons 1 thru 6. The seventh and final season saw the series moved from Thursday nights to Tuesday nights in mid-season until May 12,1987. The show was produced by MTM Productions(Mary Tyler Moore's production company and her ex-husband Grant Tinker) the company that not only produced "The Mary Tyler Moore Show",but also produced "The White Shadow", "St. Elsewhere", "Newhart","Remington Steele", "WKRP In Cincinnati",and also "Rhoda" just to name a few.
"Hill Street Blues" was the brainchild of creators Steven Bochco and Michael Kozoil and was set somewhere in the fictional police headquarters of a large metro city(taking place on the mean streets of Chicago)and it dealt with the men and women of the police department taking on the baddies,but it was way more than that and took it's characters to even more dealt than any show like it. The characters are real,candid and rather than just stereotypes that had real problems and realistic situations. The writers who were behind this series consisted of Anthony Yerkovich, David Mamet,Steven Bochco, Micheal Kozoli, Dick Wolf, Walon Green, Jeffrey Lewis, David Milch and top notch directors from Gregory Hoblit, Christian Nyby, Rick Wallace, Thomas Carter, Gabrielle Beaumont, John Patterson, Stan Lathan, George Stanford-Brown, Corey Allen, Don Weis, Oz Scott, Bill Duke, Randa Haines, Arnold Laven and Alexander Singer.
Big time guest stars ranged from David Caruso, Talia Balsam, Meg Tilly, Anne-Marie Johnson, Howard Rollins, Frances McDormand, Lindsay Crouse, Alfre Woodard, Morgan Woodward, Jennifer Tilly, Linda Hamliton, Danny Glover, Michael Lerner, Chris Noth, Dolph Sweet, James Remar, Ally Sheedy, Cuba Gooding Jr., Michael Biehn, CCH Pounder, Ron O'Neal, Lynn Whitfeld, James Avery, Meshach Taylor, Alan Autry, Steven Bauer, Hector Elizondo, Yaphet Kotto, Joanna Kerns, Don Cheadle, Clarence Williams III, Laurence Fishburne, Ralph Manza, Lauren Holly, to Renny Roker, Lynne Moody, Lee Weaver, Jane Kaczmarek, and Mykelti Williamson just to name a few of the great actors who were guest stars on this series. When NBC abruptly canceled "Hill Street Blues" after seven seasons and 146 episodes,it didn't them executives in charge of prime-time programming long to find its replacement that was also under Steven Bochco that was also critically acclaim...."L.A. Law" that premiered in the fall of 1987.
It just isn't Halloween without it...Celebrating the Peanuts special "It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" on its 50th anniversary
Fifty years ago in 1966, the television special "It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" aired as "A CBS Special Presentation In Color" on October 27,1966. It was the third Peanuts special(and the second holiday themed special,following the phenomenal success of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" in 1965 that became a colossal hit)to be produced and animated by Bill Melendez and was written by Charles M. Schulz,based on his Peanuts comic strip and serving as executive producers Lee Mendelson along with Bill Melendez with the original theme music composed by Vince Guaraldi. "It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" was also the first Peanuts special to use the titular pattern of a short phrase,followed by the main character "Charlie Brown", a pattern which would remain the norm for almost all subsequent Peanuts specials for many years. The initial broadcast of "It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" took place in prime-time on Thursday October 27,1966 on CBS-TV In Color ,preempting "My Three Sons" on it's regular schedule.
The original sponsors,as seen during the opening sequences(almost never seen afterward in its entirely since the original telecast)were The Coca-Cola Bottling Company and Dolly Madison Snack Foods which would go on to be a longtime co-sponsor of the Peanuts specials that originally aired on CBS. From the original telecast it was a colossal hit and the animated special was nominated in 1967 for three Prime Time Emmys including Outstanding Children's Program, Outstanding Animation Director(Bill Melendez),and Outstanding Outstanding Animation Writer(Charles M. Schulz). It was also nominated in 1967 for the Golden Globe for Best Animated Special. "It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" really encapsulates childhood, the camaraderie and the spirit of Halloween in this classic tale of Charlie Brown and his friends going out for trick or treats and seeing Charlie Brown and his bag of rocks while everybody else gets candy and goodies; Linus and Sally waiting for the Great Pumpkin to arrive while Charlie Brown and the gang get invited to Violet's Halloween party. The classic Snoopy and the Red Baron(in one of the greatest animated scenes ever)sets the tone for what's to follow. The scene where Sally really gives Linus the scolding of his life is the best of this holiday special where Sally misses Halloween and Treats while calling Linus "You Blockhead!" while sitting all night in a pumpkin patch waiting for the Great Pumpkin to arrive but instead rises Snoopy from the patch. The musical score from Vince Guaraldi is in regards a classic among classics and the score is just as brilliant today as it was when audiences first heard this back in 1966. I heard there is a soundtrack album to this television special too.
"It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" aired annually on CBS from 1966 until 2000 with ABC picking up the rights beginning in 2001(as with all of the Peanuts specials)where it airs annually during the Halloween season. Until the 2013 broadcast, the other Peanuts special "You're Not Elected Charlie Brown" aired immediately after "It's The Great Pumpkin" as if the emphasize the proximity of Halloween to Election Day. Also,the Great Pumpkin is mentioned in "You're Not Elected Charlie Brown" which aired twice on ABC in 2014. When ABC aired the first-ever animated special based on the "Toy Story" movies titled "Toy Story of Terror" that animated special "It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" immediately followed afterward. Even after its initial broadcast more than 50 years ago this Peanuts special still entertains while enjoying the holiday spirit. So, here's a golden 50th anniversary to the Great Pumpkin and Charlie Brown.
Mission: Impossible (1966)
Outstanding and innovative espionage series...Remembering the original Mission:Impossible television series on its 50th anniversary
As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of one of the most innovative if not successful espionage television series of all time the original "Mission:Impossible" for the seven seasons it was on the air for 171 episodes held the record for the longest running espionage series in television history for over 35 years(about 10 more episodes than its nearest rival, the British-produced "The Avengers" with 161 episodes)until its astounding record was broken in 2010 by Kiefer Sutherland's "24" that surpassed it with 195 episodes. But what makes "Mission:Impossible" one of the greatest shows of all time? It was well- written with more intrigue and excitement if not suspenseful than any other show of its era with superb production, big-time guest stars and explosive action and high adventure each week that kept viewers tuned in(that was in an era loaded with a ton of espionage theme series but "Mission:Impossible" went beyond the norm of the regular "spy" show and took it to heights never before seen during its run).
"Mission:Impossible" was the created brainchild of Bruce Geller who was also the executive producer of the series along with producers Barry Crane, Joseph Gantman, Bruce Lansbury, Stanley Kallis, Laurence Heath, Allan Balter along with Robert E. Thompson and William Read Woodfield, that became one of the biggest hits of the mid-1960's and remained on the air as a CBS-TV staple throughout the early-1970's. The series chronicles the missions of a team of secret government agents known as the Impossible Missions Force that went after ruthless dictators, evil organizations in foreign lands and in later episodes taking on organized crime with the strictest attention to detail and timing in order to save the world.
About the cast...out of the 171 episodes of this series only actors Greg Morris(Barney Collier),and Peter Lupus(Willy Armitage)were the only main cast members that were with the series throughout its entire seven-year run. Steven Hill(Dan Briggs)appeared in 28 episodes of Season One only. Steven Hill was replaced by Peter Graves(Jim Phelps)from Seasons 2 through 7 for 143 episodes. Martin Landau(Rollin Hand)was in the first three seasons of the series for 76 episodes. Barbara Bain(Cinnamon Carter) was also in the first three seasons of the series for 78 episodes. Landau and Bain left at the end of the Season 3 and were replaced by Leonard Nimoy(Paris)in Season 4 for 49 episodes of the series. Nimoy left at the end of Season 6. Lesley Anne-Warren(Dana Lambert)came on board in Season 5 for 23 episodes and left at the end of its fifth season. Sam Elliott(Doug Roberts)join the cast in Season 5 for 13 episodes. Other IMF agents were Lynda Day-George(Lisa Casey) in Seasons 6 and 7 for 44 episodes,and Barbara Anderson(Mimi Davis)in seven episodes of Season 6.
The series was produced during the first two seasons by Desilu Productions from September,1966 to January,1968. From January,1968 until March,1973 the series was produced solely through Paramount Television. The original broadcast history of the series aired on CBS-TV from September 17,1966 until March 30,1973 producing 171 episodes all in color. Season 1 was on Saturday nights at the 9:00-10:00 time slot from September 17,1966 until January 7,1967. On January 14,1967 it moved to the 8:30-9:30 time slot until April 22,1967. From Seasons 2 through 4 aired on Sunday nights at the 10:00-11:00 time slot from September 10,1967 until March 29,1970. Season 5 saw the show move back to Saturday nights at the 7:30-8:30 time slot from September 19,1970 until March 17,1971. Season 6 also move the show to a later time slot on Saturday nights at the 10:00-11:00 time slot from September 18,1971 to December 9,1972 and again until February 26,1972 with repeats airing until August 30,1972. The seventh and final season of the series saw the show moved from Saturday nights to Friday nights in an earlier time slot from 8:00-9:00 in prime time from September 16,1972 until the final episode of the series on March 30,1973.
During its run the series was nominated for an impressive 15 Prime-Time Emmys winning 7 of them for Outstanding Acting, Outstanding Direction, and Outstanding Writing and won 3 Golden Globes for Best Television Series,Best Supporting Actor in a Television Series,and Best Actor in a Television Series and won the Edgar Award for Best Episode in a Television Series. "Mission:Impossible" was without a doubt a series with big time writers from Bruce Geller, Allan Balter, Paul Playdon, Kenneth Pettus, Stephen Kandel, Jackson Gillis and top-notch directors from Barry Crane, Paul Krasny, Lee H. Katzin, Leonard Horn, Alexander Singer,Virgil W. Vogel, Joesph Pevney, Marc Daniels,to Leslie H. Martinson, Sutton Roley, Paul Stanley and Alf Kjellin.
Big time guest stars from Ricardo Montalban, Cicely Tyson, William Marshall, Eartha Kitt, Fritz Weaver, Anthony Zerbe, John Vernon, Lloyd Bridges, Pernell Roberts, Lee Meriwether, Joan Collins, Edward Asner, Robert Conrad, Carl Betz, William Shatner, Bradford Dillman, Barbara Luna, to Malachi Throne, Antoinette Bower, William Windom, Wally Cox, Ed Nelson and James Daly just to name a few whose performances were both convincing and enjoyable during the show's seven season run on CBS.
"Mission:Impossible" also saw a remake of the TV-series in the late- 1980's with Peter Graves(that was on ABC from 1988-1990) in the cast and spun a series of seven theatrical films starring Tom Cruise beginning in 1996. Even 50 years later it was one of the best ever conceived for its era.
America's most lovable housekeeper...Remembering the classic comedy series "Hazel" on it's 55th anniversary
For the five seasons that it was on the air,Oscar-winning actress Shirley Booth played an independent,opinionated,extremely talkative,in control housekeeper on "Hazel",but on the other end there was never a more lovable and respectable maid who became television's favorite.
Based on the popular single-panel comic strip by cartoonist Ted Key which appeared in the "Saturday Evening Post",the producers(James Fonda along with executive producers Harry Ackerman and William D. Russell for Screen Gems) took some of the harshness out of the cartoon character and replaced it with the warmth and wholesome family values that made "Hazel" a huge television hit for the early-1960's.
"Hazel" ran for five seasons on two major television networks running from 1961 to 1965 producing 154 episodes. The show aired during the first four seasons on NBC's Thursday night Prime-Time lineup from September 28,1961 until March 25,1965 for 125 episodes with the first season episodes in black and white producing 35 episodes(with the exception of "What'll We Watch Tonight",from Season 1,Episode 6 that was the only episode in its first season in color)airing from September 28,1961 until June 7,1962. The next three seasons of the series were "Brought To You In Living Color" for 90 episodes airing from September 20,1962 until March 25,1965(Seasons 2 thru 4). The fifth and final season saw the series moved from NBC to CBS for 29 color episodes airing from September 13,1965 until the final episode of the series on April 11,1966. The broadcast history of the series aired on NBC's Thursday night schedule for the first four seasons of the show's run at the 9:30 eastern/8:30 central time slot where it preceded "Dr. Kildare" from 1961-1965. After the series was canceled by NBC in the Spring of 1965 saw the series moved to CBS in its final season from Thursday nights to Monday nights at the 9:30 eastern/8:30 central time slot preceding "The Andy Griffith Show" in its prime time slot until April 11,1966.
Interesting point about the cast here only actors Shirley Booth and Bobby Buntrock were the only cast members of the series that stayed throughout its entire run and appeared in all 154 episodes. Actors Don De-Fore and Whitney Blake were the only cast members that appeared in 125 episodes in Seasons 1 thru 4 when the series aired on NBC from 1961- 1965. Both De-Fore and Blake left the series after the end of Season 4. In the final season of "Hazel" actors Ray Fulmer, Lynn Borden, and Julia Benjamin appeared in all 29 episodes in color when the series was on CBS from 1965-1966. During the first four seasons, "Hazel" was sponsored by the Ford Motor Company and during Season 4(the show's final season at NBC)was sponsored by The Bristol-Myers Corporation. In the show's final season the sponsors were The Proctor & Gamble Company and Philip Morris.
The show's first season placed fourth in the 1961-1962 Nielsen ratings. Actress Shirley Booth won two Prime-Time Emmys in 1962 and 1963 for Best Actress in a Series and was nominated for her third season in 1964. Booth also received a Golden Globe Nomination for Best Actress in a Television Series in 1964. Out of the 154 episodes that were produced William D. Russell directed 136 episodes of the series. Charles Barton directed 10 episodes while E.W. Swackhamer directed 7 episodes. Veteran director Hal Cooper was behind one episode. Outstanding writers for "Hazel" consisted of Ted Key(the show's creator for 153 episodes) along with Peggy Chantler Dick, Robert Riley Crutcher, Norm Liebmann, James Fonda, Dorothy Cooper, Phil Leslie, Keith Fowler, Louella MacFarlane, and R.S. Allen.
The notable guest stars that appeared on "Hazel" were Frank Gifford, Howard Smith, Cathy Lewis, Mala Powers, Alan Hale Junior, Ellen Corby, John Astin, Leif Erickson, Dick Sargent, Lee Meriwether, Claude Akins, Harvey Korman, Ken Berry, Parley Baer, William Schallert, Virginia Gregg, Malcolm Atterbury, James Doohan, Leo G. Carroll, to Sterling Holloway, Jack Dodson, Luciana Paluzzi, Gloria Henry, Eleanor Audley, Alan Hewitt, Jamie Farr, Hugh Marlowe, Dub Taylor, Harold Gould, and Oskar Homolka and Bonnie Franklin just to name a few of the guest stars that were on the show.
The first four seasons of "Hazel" saw huge ratings but when the series when to CBS in its final season it had fallen out of the top 30 programs and this is when the producers made numerous cast changes when lead to its abrupt cancellation in the Spring of 1966(the series was replaced in the fall of 1966 when CBS replaced it with the Don Fedderson produced series "Family Affair")
Family Affair (1966)
Good Wholesome Values and Morals...Remembering the classic "Family Affair" television series on its 50th anniversary
The television series "Family Affair" was the created brainchild of powerhouse producers Don Fedderson and Edmund L. Hartmann(who also served as executive producers of this series) who were also known for "My Three Sons",and "The Millionaire" television series along with producers Fred Henry, Edmund Beloin and Henry Garson that made "Family Affair" one of the most heartwarming comedy-drama series of the mid- 1960's. The series was one of CBS' most popular shows spanning five seasons and producing 138 episodes in color that premiered on CBS' Monday night prime-time schedule on September 12,1966 where it preceded "The Andy Griffith Show" and went opposite "Peyton Place",and "The Danny Thomas Comedy Hour". During its first three seasons the series aired on Monday nights at the 9:30 eastern/8:30 central time slot from 1966 to 1969. By the show's fourth season CBS moved the series from Monday nights to Thursday nights in an earlier time slot for its final two seasons(1969-1971) at the 7:30 eastern/6:30 central time slot until its cancellation on March 4,1971. "Family Affair" became so successful that CBS put the series on its daytime lineup schedule also known as "The Family Affair Morning Show" aka "The Brian Keith Show" which consisted of repeated episodes from various seasons airing from September 7,1970 until January 12,1973. Repeated episodes from the best of the series aired from March 11,1971 until September 10,1971.
"Family Affair" basically was a good series that had a "Disney" type theme to it that had a basic story-line, great actors, and impressive guest stars that made it not only fun to watch but made it one of the most popular heartwarming sitcoms of its era. The series chronicles the trials of a successful civil engineer and bachelor Bill Davis(Brian Keith)who life has suddenly changed when he learns that he is given custody of his brother's orphaned children in his luxury Fifth Avenue apartment in New York City. Davis' English Butler and counterpart Giles French(Sebastian Cabot) also had adjustments to make as well as he became the guardian and the second parent of caring for teenage daughter Cissy(Kathy Garver),and his brother's 6-year-old twins Jody(Johnny Whitaker),and Buffy(Anissa Jones) not to mention Buffy's treasure possession Mrs. Beasley her doll that was the heart of the show. This was a series that had basic "family values" and "morals" that was still on the airwaves that were successful during that era. Out of all the actors associated with the series only actors Brian Keith, Kathy Garver, Anissa Jones and Johnny Whitaker were the only cast members that stayed with the series throughout its entire run. Sebastian Cabot appeared in 130 episodes of the series. When Sebastian Cabot left the series for medical reasons, his brother Nigel French(John Williams) was introduced for nine episodes in 1967. In the show's final season Nancy Walker was added as a part-time housekeeper Mrs. Turner for six episodes for the 1970-1971 season.
Creators Don Fedderson along with Edmund L. Hartmann were writers for all 138 episodes of the series. Other outstanding writers that contribute were Henry Garson, Edmund Beloin, Austin and Irma Kalish, Elroy Schwartz, George Tibbles, Seaman Jacobs, Peggy Chantler Dick, Fred Fox, Joesph Hoffman, Phil Davis, and Phil Leslie among others. Charles Barton directed 106 episodes of the series while William D. Russell directed 31 episodes of the series. James Sheldon directed one episode. Notable guest stars consisted of child actors Eve Plumb, Erin Moran, Veronica Cartwright, Butch Patrick, Kym Karath and Pamelyn Ferdin. Other guest stars were June Lockhart, Robert Reed, Ida Lupino, Jamie Farr, Jackie Coogan, Joan Blondell, Sterling Holloway, James Hong, Brian Donlevy, Martha Hyer, Ann Sothern, Doris Singleton, Vic Tayback, Dana Andrews, Paul Fix and Lee Meriwether among the many who made guest appearances on the show.
As for some of the best episodes of "Family Affair" there were several that were very good if not downright dramatic with a hint of comedy. But I start with the show's pilot episode "Buffy" from Season 1. Other great episodes included "The Joiners"(Season 5,Episode 20), "The Substitute Teacher"(Season 3,Episode 5),"A Member of the Family"(Season 2,Episode 23), "Christmas Came a Little Early"(Season 3,Episode 7), "A Matter of Tonsils"(Season 2,Episode 22), "Oliver"(Season 3, Episode 6), "Mrs. Beasley,Where Are You?(Season 1, Episode 7), "Mr. French's Holiday" (Season 2,Episode 27), "Fat,Fat,The Water Rat"(Season 2, Episode 7),and "The Baby Sitters"(Season 2, Episode 29),and the two-part episode "Lost in Spain"(Season 3, Episodes 18 and 19) to name a few. During its five season run "Family Affair" was nominated for eight Prime-Time Emmys between 1967-1969 for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series,Outstanding Directorial Achievement and Outstanding Writing Achievement. Nominated in 1971 for the Golden Globe for Outstanding Television Series and nominated for Outstanding Actor in a Comedic Role(Brian Keith).
When the series was abruptly canceled in the Spring of 1971 after five seasons and 138 episodes,audiences started turning to more "realistic" and irreverent television shows that were more of a urban and gritter appeal and by that time it was "harder" to find a wholesome family oriented program that was not only family friendly but successful and "Family Affair" exceeding all expectations as a television series. The 2002 remake of this was not successful nor did it do right to the original show. Happy 50th anniversary.
Laverne & Shirley (1976)
Incredibly hilarious series from the people that bought you Happy Days. Remembering Laverne and Shirley on its golden 40th anniversary
Being this was the spin-off to the successful "Happy Days" television series the characters of Laverne and Shirley made their debut premiere in a classic episode "A Date With Fonzie"(Season 3,Episode 10) from the "Happy Days" television series that originally aired on November 11,1975 and from that episode Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams made an astounding impression. The lead characters were introduced in that episode as acquaintances of "The Fonz"(Henry Winkler). It was from that episode and due to the high ratings it achieve,the producers thought it would be a great idea to create a spin-off to "Happy Days" which was at the time the highest rated show on the air not to mention a colossal hit for ABC-TV(which had five of the top ten shows in the Nielsens).
"Laverne and Shirley" was the created brainchild of Garry Marshall along with Mark Rothman, Edward L. Milkis and Thomas L. Miller(who also served as executive producers of this series)along with producers Lowell Ganz, Jeff Franklin, Arthur Silver along with Mark Rothman and Milt Josefburg that premiered on ABC's Tuesday night prime time schedule on January 27,1976 as the mid-season replacement for "Welcome Back Kotter"(which moved to Thursday nights). The series from the first episode was a colossal hit becoming ABC's top-rated sitcom that lasted eight seasons and 178 episodes until May 10,1983. During its eight year-run it went through major changes as the network moved the show to different time slots. For the first four seasons it was on Tuesday nights from January 27,1976 until May 15,1979. Then in Season 5 it moved to Thursday nights from September 13,1979 until December 13,1979 and on January 7,1980 moved to Monday nights until February 11,1980 where it was losing viewers and falling ratings. Then for the next three seasons the network moved it back to its original Tuesday night time slot after "Happy Days" from January 26,1980 until May 10,1983.
Only actress Penny Marshall was with the series for all 178 episodes. Cindy Williams was with the series for 159 episodes from 1976-1982. Williams left the series at the end of Season 7 to pursue other interests. Other recurring characters included actors David L. Lander("Squiggy" for 156 episodes); Michael McKean("Lenny" for 150 episodes),and Eddie Mekka("The Big Ragoo" for 150 episodes). Phil Foster appeared in 149 episodes while actress Betty Garrett appeared in 97 episodes of the series. The series "Laverne and Shirley" started roughly in the same time period as "Happy Days" with the timeline starting in 1958 when the series began through 1967 when the series ended.
Several writers contribute to some of the hilarious hi-jinks and slapstick comedy each week ranging from Lowell Ganz, Garry Marshall, and Mark Rothman(who were the writers for all 178 episodes of the series) along with Jeff Franklin, David W. Duclon, Marc Sotkin, Milt Josefburg, Fred Fox, Ron Leavitt, Winifred Hervey, Babaloo Mandel, Bob Brunner,and Michael Warren. Big time directors ranging from James Burrows, John Tracy, Alan Rafkin, Howard Morris, Joel Zwick, Alan Myerson, Garry Marshall, Jay Sandrich, Jerry Paris, Carl Gottlieb, Chris Thompson, and Tom Trbovich just to name a few. The guest stars who made appearances on this series featured Vicki Lawrence, Ed Begley, Jr., Carrie Fisher, Ed Marinaro, Fred Willard, Billy Sands, Jay Leno, Michael Mann, Anjelica Huston, Laraine Newman, Robert Hays, Roger C. Carmel, Scatman Crothers, Charlene Tilton, Conrad Janis, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Howard Hesseman, Fabian, Pat Carroll, Hans Conried, Troy Donahue, Toni Basil, G.W. Bailey, Severn Darden, Scott Brady, Christopher Guest, Jerry Belson, to Carl Ballantine, Mark Harmon, Fred Dryer, Dennis Haysbert, Ted Danson, and Art Garfunkel. Even had cameos from Jim Lange and Ilene Graff too.
During the peak of the show's run "Laverne and Shirley" got there own Saturday Morning cartoon show that aired on ABC on October 10,1981 with Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams as the voices of there characters where it was part of "The Laverne & Shirley/Fonzie Hour". But with the original series the cast was electric not to mention the adequate writing and above average direction not to mention the slapstick antics made this show a solid ratings winner for the eight seasons it was on the air. Several great episodes do stand out here and I will start with the show's top ten which includes the two-part episodes "Murder on the Moose Jaw Express"(Season 5),"The Bardwell Caper"(Season 6), "We're In The Army Now"(Season 5). Other great episodes included "The Diner" (Season 5), "Look Before You Leap"(Season 2), "The Defiant One"(Season 7),and "Laverne and Shirley Meet Fabian"(Season 3). When the series was suddenly canceled by ABC in 1983 it faced strong competition of NBC's "The A-Team" that crushed it in the ratings. The series that replaced it in the fall of 1983 was "Foul Ups,Bleeps and Blunders" aka "The Dick Clark Show" on ABC's Tuesday night schedule.
Dr. Kildare (1961)
A Landmark Medical Series That Set The Tone For What Was To Follow...Remembering the Dr. Kildare television series on its 55th anniversary
Premiering on NBC's prime-time schedule on September 28,1961, "Dr. Kildare" became a widely successful television series that was based on the theatrical MGM "Dr. Kildare" movies starring Lew Ayres and Lionel Barrymore that were released in theaters during the 1930's and 1940's. There was also a successful radio version of "Dr. Kildare" that became a household name within itself even before it made the transition to television by the early-1960's. The television series quickly achieved success and made a star of Richard Chamberlain,who played the title role(along with an ABC medical drama "Ben Casey" that premiered at the same time but premiered a week after "Dr. Kildare" on October 2,1961)that inspired many television series dealing with the medical field.
Produced with the American Medical Association along with the Physicians Advisory Committee and the Hospital of the Good Samaritan of Greater Los Angeles for their valuable assistance the television series "Dr. Kildare" became one of the biggest prime-time successes at NBC produced a total of 191 episodes airing from September 28,1961 until August 30,1966. Out of the 191 episodes that were produced a total of 135 hour long episodes were in black and white for Seasons 1 thru 4 from September 28,1961 until May 11,1965(with the exception of "The Burning Sky" in Season 2 that was in color). Then on September 13,1965 for it's fifth and final season,the show went from it's hour long format to an half-hour weekly format and the series was now in color for 56 episodes airing from September 13,1965 until April 5,1966. Repeated episodes of it's fifth and final season continued in constant airings until August 30,1966. Seasons 1 thru 4 of "Dr. Kildare" were on Thursday nights in prime-time for NBC. The fifth and final season saw the series moved from Thursday nights to Tuesday nights for the remainder of it's run.
Under the creation of James Komack and producers Norman Felton and David Victor(who served as executive producers of this series under there production company Arena Productions/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Television and NBC),the series like the MGM film series of the same title(1938-1942) centered around the young intern Dr. Kildare(Richard Chamberlain) working at the fictional metropolitan "Blair General Hospital" to learn his profession,and dealing with not only the problems of the patients,but confronting medical issues while winning the respect of the Senior Dr. Leonard Gillespie(Raymond Massey) while surrounded by all artistic obstacles both personal and professional. The results of this series was riveting drama with big name guest stars to boot along with the superior writing. The result gave the series three Prime Time Emmy Nominations for Best New Series and Best Actor in a Television Series and won Richard Chamberlain the Golden Globe in 1963 for Best Outstanding Actor in a Television Series.
The list of big time writers for this series consisted of Gene Roddenberry, Douglas Benton, Don Brinkley, Sy Salkowitz, E. Jack Neuman, Arthur Weiss, Al C. Ward, Christopher Knopf, Edward J. Lakso, Chester Krumholz, Phillip Saltzman, William Bast, to Theodore Apstein, Louis S. Peterson, Jerry De Bono, and Jim Thompson. The big time list of directors who made "Dr. Kildare" a standard quality of great entertainment included Jack Arnold, Alvin Ganzer, Don Medford, Marc Daniels, Alf Kjellin, Leo Penn, Ida Lupino, Lawrence Dobkin, to John Brahm, John Newland, Herschel Daugherty, Sydney Pollack, James Goldstone, Alexander Singer, Boris Sagel, Paul Wendkos and David Friedkin along with James Komack, Richard C. Sarafian, Don Taylor and Elliott Silverstein.
In addition to the recurring characters including Ken Berry, Jud Taylor, Jean Inness, Robert Paget, Joan Patrick, John Napier and Cynthia Stone among others big name guest stars ranging from Leslie Nielsen, Lee Meriwether, Hayden Rourke, Diane Baker, William Shatner, Robert Redford, James Mason, Boris Karloff, Suzanne Pleshette, Robert Culp, Yvette Mimieux, Ricardo Montalban, Leonard Nimoy, Robert Vaughn, Ed Asner, to Sorrell Booke, James Best, Dick York, James Franciscus, Richard Beymer, Ross Martin, Donna Douglas, Fred Astaire, Barbara Parkins, William Schallert, Dean Jagger, James Earl Jones, Diana Sands, Gene Hackman, Greg Morris, Angie Dickinson, Kim Hunter, Carroll O'Connor, Basil Rathbone, Edgar Buchanan, Steven Hill, Anne Francis, Joanne Linville, Charles Bronson, Jack Lord, James Coburn, Burgess Meredith, Yvonne Craig, and George Kennedy.
Several great episodes of "Dr. Kildare" do stand out as brilliant and I will start the show's pilot episode "Twenty Four-Hours". Other great episodes "An Island Like A Peacock", "The Administrator", "An Ungodly Act", "One for the Road", "For The Living", "The Chemistry of Anger", the two-part "Tyger,Tyger", to "To Each His Own Prison", "The Good Luck Charm","Whoever Heard Of A Two-Headed Doll?","A Miracle For Margaret" just to name a few. The phenomenal success of "Dr. Kildare" was a landmark series for many reasons largely because it let audiences see for the first time a show that combined high drama and medical information that was unheard of when this series premiered in 1961. And it has been much imitated.
Ben Casey (1961)
The standard of a great medical series...Remembering "Ben Casey" television series on it's 55th anniversary
The year 1961 brought two outstanding medical dramas to television even though they aired only a week apart. One was "Dr. Kildare" that premiered over at NBC. The other was the medical drama series "Ben Casey" that premiered a week after "Dr. Kildare". "Ben Casey" upon its premiere on October 2,1961 became one of the biggest television hits at ABC spanning five seasons and 153 episodes all in black and white until March 21,1966. "Ben Casey" was just that...a gritty riveting medical drama that was so realistic that it brought on superior acting from it's guest stars not to mention the astounding writing and big production values made this show such a colossal hit and a ratings winner for ABC. Interesting note about this show...Actor Vince Edwards was discovered by Bing Crosby whose production company Bing Crosby Productions produced this series and was filmed at Desilu Studios. Vince Edwards took the character of "Ben Casey" and made him into one of the biggest television icons of the early-1960's. Vince Edwards appeared in all 153 episodes of the series. Veteran actor Sam Jaffe who played Casey's mentor and friend Dr. David Zorba appeared in 127 episodes of the series,and was replaced in the show's final season by Franchot Tone(Dr. Niles Freeland),and also by Harry Landers(Dr. Ted Hoffman). Actress Jeanne Bates(Nurse Willis) appeared in 42 episodes of the series from 1961-1966. "Ben Casey" came at a time when America was at a crossroads within itself especially with the subject of the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War, the confrontations in the Southern states against Jim Crow,and the sudden death of President John Kennedy.
Given the support and assistance from the American Medical Association which was behind some of the scenes during production, the series "Ben Casey" was groundbreaking for it's era with some tough issues and hard hitting drama especially with some of the medical issues that each week Dr. Casey and his staff at fictional County General Hospital had to face. The success of "Ben Casey" brought 11 Prime-Time Emmy Nominations winning the Prime-Time Emmy in 1963 for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role(Kim Stanley),and also Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role(Glenda Farrell)Big time name directors ranging from Leo Penn, Irvin Kershner, Sydney Pollack, John Meredyth-Lucas, Mark Rydell, Arthur Hiller, Alvin Ganzer, Marc Daniels, Richard C. Sarafian, Alan Crosland, to Jerry Lewis, Gerald Mayer and even Joesph Pevney and Paul Wendkos contribute to some of the great episodes not to mention superior writing from the show's creator(James E. Moser for all 153 episodes),along with Jack Laird, Chester Krumholz, Don Brinkley, Alvin Sargent, Al C. Ward, Lester Pine, Wilton Schiller, Ken Kolb, Harry Julian-Fink, Dean Riesner, Norman Katkov and William Bast.
Big name guest stars ranging from Peter Falk, Shelley Winters, Cesar Romero, Millie Perkins, Eddie Albert, Tom Bosley, Stella Stevens, Dick Clark, Mary Astor, Ricardo Montalban, Anne Francis, Davy Jones, Barry Sullivan, Bradford Dillman, Brett Somers to George C. Scott, Jerry Lewis, Roddy McDowell, Robert Culp, Greg Morris, Eartha Kitt, Percy Rodriguez, Antoinette Bower, Ellen Burstyn, Jack Warden, to Carroll O' Connor, James Best, Hari Rhodes, Peter Breck, Jack Klugman, Telly Savalas, Bruce Dern, Cliff Robertson, Beau Bridges, Sally Kellerman, Norman Fell, Neville Brand, Patricia Barry, Brooke Bundy, Suzanne Pleshette, Piper Laurie, and even Richard Basehart, Ray Walston, Larry Hovis, Ivan Dixon, Yvonne Craig, William Windom, Patricia Blair, Marlo Thomas, Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, Simon Oakland not to mention Tuesday Weld, Pippa Scott and James Caan and even Jerry Lewis and Sammy Davis,Jr. made a special guest appearances.
The best episodes from this Emmy award winning series starts with the pilot episode "To The Pure" to "I Remember A Lemon Tree", "The Sweet Kiss of Madness", "And If I Die", "A Little Fun to Match the Sorrow", "And Even Death Shall Die", "Behold a Pale Horse", "When You See An Evil Man", to the two-part "A Cardinal Act of Mercy". Other great episodes were "If There Were Dreams to Sell", "The Echo of a Silent Cheer", "A Certain Time, A Certain Darkness", "But Linda Only Smiled", "Courage At Three-AM", "A Woods Full of Question Marks", "Where Did All The Roses Go?", "Every Other Minute,It's The End of the World", "Dress My Doll Pretty", "In Case of Emergency,Cry Havoc","One Nation Indivisible" to "A Falcon's Eye, A Lion's Heart, A Girl's Hand", "The Fireman Who Raised Rabbits", "A Horse Named Stravinsky", "If You Play Your Cards Right,You Too Can Be A Loser", "Allie", "A Hundred More Pipers", "Between Summer and Winter,The Glorious Season", along with "Legacy from a Stranger" were some of the great episodes that this series produced during its astounding five season run.
"Ben Casey" premiered on ABC's Monday night schedule in Prime-Time from October 2,1961 until May 13, 1963. The network moved the series to Wednesday nights in Prime-Time from September 9, 1963 until April 22,1964 in favor of another produced Bing Crosby series "Breaking Point". "Ben Casey" went back to Monday nights on September 14, 1964 and remained until the final episode of the series on March 21,1966 after five seasons and 153 black and white episodes. When "Ben Casey" was canceled in the Spring of 1966, the series was replaced by the espionage British import series "The Avengers" on March 28,1966. In the fall of that year it would be replaced by the Western-adventure series "The Big Valley".
Space: 1999 (1975)
Groundbreaking science fiction series that was in a league within itself. Commemorating Space:1999 on its 40th anniversary
On commemorating the 40th anniversary of this show this was at its time science fiction television of the highest order and it was an incredible blend of spectacular special effects,amazing sets along with some of the most fantastic,even metaphysical/mystical stories that put you in with the action amongst the wonders and horrors the Alphas were facing in the far reaches of outer space. The short-lived award winning science fiction series "SPACE:1999" was created and produced by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson who also served as executive producers of the series. The series was the last production by the partnership of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson and when it premiered in 1975 was the most expensive science fiction series produced for British television at the time it was made at a cost of $300,000 per episode. The first season was co-produced by the British television company ITC Productions and the Italian production company RAI Productions. The second season was produced only by ITC Productions. Before this series was made the partnership of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson were known for their children's action-adventure programs including "Fireball XL-5", "Stingray", "Thunderbirds!",and "Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons",and for there live-action produced shows that included the science-fiction drama "UFO",and their only live- action espionage/crime-drama series "The Protectors". "SPACE:1999" was originally pitched in the United States to all three major television networks(ABC,NBC,& CBS) with NBC expressing interest in the series as a mid-season replacement. As a result,all three major television networks rejected the offer. The series ended up in the United States shown in first-run national syndication for two seasons producing 48 episodes in color from September 4,1975 until November 12,1977. Out of the 48 episodes that this series produced, a total of 24 episodes were made from September 4,1975 until February 12,1976. Season 2 also produced 24 episodes in it's final season airing from September 4,1976 until November 12,1977. Gerry and Sylvia Anderson were executive producers throughout it's entire run. Former "Star Trek" producer Fred Freiburger was the producer for all of Season 2 and for all 24 episodes in it's final season.
The British produced series starred Martin Landau and Barbara Bain(of "Mission:Impossible" fame),and Canadian actor Barry Morse(of Quinn Martin's "The Fugitive") along with co-stars Nick Tate and Zienia Merton. Throughout the series entire run only actors Martin Landau and Barbara Bain along with Nick Tate and Zienia Merton remained with the exception of Barry Morse who appeared in all 24 episodes of Season 1. In the series second and final season actor Barry Morse was replaced by Catherine Schell. Also added to the cast for Season 2 were actors Tony Anholt, John Hug, and Jeffrey Kissoon. "SPACE:1999" drew a great deal of visual inspiration and technical expertise from Stanley Kubrick's 1968 theatrical film "2001: A Space Odyssey" along with the show's special effects director Brian Johnson who had previously worked on the "Thunderbirds!" television series and on Kubrick's theatrical film.
To basically get the idea of what "SPACE:1999" was about requires heavy viewing in spite of this was out of the ordinary when it came out in 1975. Season 1 of the series is highly recommended and I would highly recommend seeing the pilot episode "Breakaway" which sets the tone for what was to come. The original 24 episodes from Season 1 that were to follow were into a magnificent journey into the unknown reaches of space that gave viewers a retrospective that no other television series of this period has seen before or since. It was Britian's answer to "Star Trek" and "Lost In Space". An grand astounding achievement when it came out during the mid-1970's. The other episodes that stood out from Season 1 of the series were "A Matter of Life and Death", "Dragon's Domain", "End of Eternity", "Earthbound", "The Testament of Arkadia", "The Last Sunset", "Mission of the Darians", "Space Brain", and "The Alpha Child" just to name a few. The second and final season of the series also had some good episodes ranging from the two-part "The Bringers of Wonder", to other Season 2 episodes that followed included "Dorzak", "The Journey to Where", "The Immunity Syndrome", "The Metamorph", "The Seed of Destruction", "The Dorcons",and "The AB Chrysalis" and even "The Rules of Luton" were just a few of the good episodes in its second and final season. The rest of the episodes from Season 2 did not hold their own as the series basically stoop to the level of a Saturday Morning cartoon show. The guest stars ranged from some of the best British actors in the business ranging from Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Joan Collins, Sarah Douglas, Jeremy Kemp and Peter Bowles. When it was canceled in the fall of 1977 the series continued in syndicated repeats for some United States network affilate stations(where it was shown on late nights and weekends) until March of 1978.
The Monkees (1966)
Hey, Hey We're The Monkees Commemorating on it's 50th anniversary
In 1963, producer Bob Rafelson came up with the idea while vacationing on tour with a band in Mexico for a television series about the adventures of a musical act. The exception of this idea was hard to come by,but by 1964 all of that changed with the music of the British invasion. "The Beatles" was all the rage and it changed the course of the American pop scene very quickly. Developing the idea for this series would be hard to come by not to mention a hard sell. Teaming up with the executive producer Bert Schneider at Screen Gems-Columbia Pictures,work was set out to develop the concept of the show which was loosely based on "The Beatles". Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider under there production company Raybert Productions with a script that was written by Paul Mazursky and Larry Tucker sold the series idea to the head of Screen Gems in August of 1965 with a pilot script called "The Monkeys". The idea for a television series about a fictional rock and roll group was developed as early as 1960,but had a hard time interesting anyone until 1965,by which time rock and roll music and the phenomenal success of "The Beatles" two movies "A Hard Days Night" (1964),and "Help!"(1965), was entrenched in pop culture with the British invasion of music scene sweeping the country. In September of 1965, trade publication newspapers ran and ad seeking "Folk and Roll Musicians-Singers for acting roles in a new television series". As many as 400 hopefuls showed up to be considered as one of "4 insane boys". Fourteen actors from the audition pool were brought back for screen tests and after audience research, Raybert Productions chose their final four.
The final four that were selected for this series were Mickey Dolenz(who had prior screen experience),Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith,and Peter Tork. The overall part of the show followed the adventures of a folk-rock band forever on the verge of stardom in which these four talented musicians lived together in a crazy apartment and were frequently drawn into the lives of California's many eccentrics. These adventures in which the boys were involved with were interrupted by songs(the songs were written by the best songwriters in the business consisting of Neil Diamond, Harry Nilsson, Carole King, and Boyce & Hart among others). As for the development of the series producers Rafelson and Schneider wanted the style of the series to reflect avant-grade techniques such as improvisation, quick cuts, jump cuts, breaking the fourth wall, and free-flowing loose narratives which was new to audiences at the time this television series premiered which included new techniques in editing and production.
Created by Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider(who also served as executive producers of the series),and produced by Ward Sylvester(Season 2 only), the television series "The Monkees" premiered on NBC's Monday night schedule in prime-time on September 12,1966 at the 7:30pm eastern/6:30pm central time slot in color and was produced Screen Gems/Raybert Productions. The show's sponsors throughout it's run were Kellogg's of Battle Creek(Kellogg's Cereals),and Yardley Fashions of London. Season 1 of the series aired on Monday nights preceding "I Dream of Jeannie" and opposite "The Iron Horse" and "Gilligan's Island" for 32 episodes in color airing from September 12,1966 until April 24,1967. Season 2 of the series also aired on Monday nights preceding "The Man From UNCLE", "Rowan and Martin's Laugh- In",and "The Danny Thomas Show" and opposite "Gunsmoke" and "Cowboy In Africa" for 25 episodes in color airing from September 11, 1967 until March 25,1968. A total of 58 color episodes were produced from September 12,1966 until March 25,1968 with repeated episodes airing from April 5,1968 until September 1, 1968. Only Mickey Dolenz, Peter Tork, Davy Jones and Michael Nesmith were the only original cast members that stayed with the series throughout it's entire two year prime time run on NBC.
Director James Frawley directed 28 episodes of the series including it's original pilot episode. Other directors for this series included Bob Rafelson, Alexander Singer, James Komack, Bruce Kessler, Russ Mayberry, David Winters not to mention even Mickey Dolenz and Peter Tork directed various episodes of the series. The writers included the team of Dee Caruso and Gerald Gardner(21 episodes), Stanley Z. Cherry, Bob Rafelson, Paul Mazursky, Bernie Orenstein, Mickey Dolenz, Stanley Ralph Ross, Larry Tucker, Elias Davis,and Neil Burstyn among others.
The guest stars that appeared on "The Monkees" were Bobby Sherman, Melody Patterson, Julie Newmar, Rose Marie, Peter Whitney, Lon Chaney, Jr., Arch Johnson, Vic Tayback, Heather North, Jeanne Arnold, Barton MacLane, Ben Wright, Stan Freberg, Harvey Lembeck, Henry Corden, Chips Rafferty, John Hoyt, Frank Zappa and a cameo appearance by Milton Berle. The best episodes from "The Monkees" were "The Devil and Peter Tork", "Monkey Versus Machine", "Dance, Monkey, Dance", "Your Friendly Neighborhood Kidnappers", "The Monkees Paw", "The Christmas Show","The Monkees On Tour"(which was a documentary style episode),"Monkees Manhattan Style", "I've Got A Little Song Here" among others. "The Monkees" won two Prime Time Emmy Awards in 1967 for Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy(James Frawley). After NBC canceled the series in the Spring of 1968 enjoyed a resurgence on Saturday morning television in repeated episodes. First it aired on CBS' Saturday morning schedule from September 13,1969 until September 2,1972. Then went over to ABC's Saturday morning schedule in repeats from September 9,1972 until August 8,1973. After it's run on network television the 58 original episodes aired in local syndication from 1975 until 1981. The cable music channel MTV brought back all 58 episodes in repeats on February 23,1986. The success of the original series rebooted a new version titled "The New Monkees" that premiered on MTV in 1987 and later in national syndication. Even after more than 50 years..."The Monkees" are still rock and rolling thanks to a new audience and a new generation who are hooked.
Great Adaptation and one of the many successful Irwin Allen produced action-adventure shows of the 1960's. The phenomenal "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea"
Created and produced by Irwin Allen ,"Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" was ABC's long-running science fiction/adventure series based on the box office 1961 theatrical feature of the same name starring Walter Pidegon. The television series,based on the same name told the colorful exploits of the Seaview,which was the world's most technologically advanced nuclear powered submarine under the command of it's creator Admiral Harriman Nelson(Richard Basehart) of "The Nelson Institute of Marine Research". Harriman's second in command of the Seaview was Captain Lee Crane(David Hedison). Each week was explosive underwater adventure and suspense that kept viewers tuned in as the crew aboard The Seaview faced unpredictable dangers and save the world from espionagen invaders, diabolical villains, saboteurs, aliens from other lifeforms and some of the scariest sea monsters ever conceived for television.
"Voyage" premiered on ABC's Monday night schedule on September 14,1964 where 32 episodes from Season 1 only where in black and white until April 19,1965. Then on September 19,1965 in it's second season,the show moved from Monday nights to Sunday nights in an earlier time slot for 78 color episodes for the remainder of it's four-year run until March 31,1968 where it faced stiff competition opposite the long-running animal show "Lassie",and "The Wonderful World of Disney". "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" produced in all a total of 110 episodes airing between September 14,1964 until March 31,1968. Created by Irwin Allen under his production company and the first of the trilogy of action- adventure shows he would produced for the network(the others were "The Time Tunnel","The Land of the Giants",and "Swiss Family Robinson").
The series was nominated for 8 Prime Time Emmys and winning 4 Prime Time Emmys in 1965 for Outstanding Individual Achievements In Entertainment- Special Photographic Effects(L.B. Abbott); and again in 1966 for Special Photographic Effects(L.B. Abbott);Outstanding Cinematopgraphy(Winton C. Hoch), Art Direction(William J. Creber); Art Direction and Mechanical Special Effects(Robert A. Tait);and in 1967 for Film and Sound Editing(Don Hall, Dick LeGrand, Daniel Mandell, John Mills),and Photographic Special Effects(L.B. Abbott). Other Emmy nominations were for Sound Editing, Film Editing, Art Direction, and Special Effects.
Several big time directors ranging from Jus Addiss, Jerry Hopper, Sobey Martin, Harry Harris, Leonard Horn, Robert Sparr, Nathan Juran, Sutton Roley, James Goldstone, Laslo Benedek, Gerd Oswald, Tom Gries, Alex March, Alan Crosland, and even Irwin Allen(who directed the pilot episode).
Fantastic writers contribute to some of the great stories which include Irwin Allen(who wrote the pilot episode). Others were William Welch, Allan Balter, John Hawkins, Ward Hawkins, Harlan Ellison, Don Brinkley, Sidney Marshall, Robert Vincent, Alan Caillou, Shimon Wincelberg, to Sidney Ellis and William Read Woodfield along with George Reed and Peter Packer.
The guest star roster for "Voyage" includes big time Hollywood greats including Susan Flannery, Mark Slade, Linda Cristal, Henry Jones, Malachi Throne, Jan Merlin, Leslie Nielsen, Werner Klemperer, Michael Ansara, Lloyd Bochner, Ford Rainey, Kevin Hagen, James Doohan, Eddie Albert, Richard Carlson, Yvonne Craig, June Lockhart, Brooke Bundy, Carroll O'Connor, Viveca Lindfors, Edward Asner, Ina Balin, Gia Scala, Gary Merrill, Victor Buono, Karen Steele, J.D. Cannon, Warren Oates, to Arthur Hill, James Darren, John Lupton, Michael Dunn, Vincent Price, Don Matheson, Robert Duvall,and John McGiver.
The best episodes from this series starts with the pilot episode "Eleven Days To Zero"(which was basically filmed in color but telecast in black and white). Season 1 episodes include "The Sky Is Falling", "Submarine Sunk Here", "Doomsday", "The Saboteur", "The Price of Doom", "The Fear Makers", "The Traitor", "The Mist of Silence", "No Way Out", "The Secret of the Loch","The City Beneath The Sea",and "Mutiny". Season 2 episodes include "The Mechanical Man", "The Cyborg","The Death Ship", "Jonah and the Whale", "Leviathan", "The X-Factor",and "The Phantom Strikes". Season 3 episodes include "The Lost Bomb","The Day The World Ended","Death from the Past","The Creature", "The Wax Men", and "Deadly Invasion". The Fourth and Final Season best episodes were "Edge of Doom", "No Way Back", "Cave of the Dead", "The Man of Many Faces", "Savage Jungle", "The Death Clock", "Man-Beast", "Attack!", "The Rescue", and "The Secret of the Deep" along with "Fires of Death".
When it was abruptly canceled in the Spring of 1968 after four seasons and 110 episodes, ABC didn't waste any time in finding a replacement on it's Sunday night time slot which was another Irwin Allen produced series "Land of the Giants" that ran for two seasons and 51 episodes from 1968-1970.
Commemorating the short-lived cop show "S.W.A.T." on it's 40th anniversary
The short-lived television series "S.W.A.T." was another successful action-packed police dramas that came from powerhouse television producer Aaron Spelling,and under the creation of Rick Husky, Lee Stanley,and Robert Hammer. Aaron Spelling served as executive producer of the series along with Leonard Goldberg under their production company Spelling-Goldberg Productions for ABC-TV. "S.W.A.T." actually was the spin-off of another successful Aaron Spelling produced series "The Rookies" where Steve Forrest was a guest star on that episode. "S.W.A.T." premiered as a mid-season replacement on ABC's prime time schedule on February 17,1975 and lasted a mere two seasons on the air until April 3,1976. A total of 37 color episodes were produced in which Season 1 consisted of 12 episodes produced airing between February 17, 1975 through May 26,1975. Season 2 consisted of 25 episodes produced airing between September 13,1975 through April 3, 1976. "S.W.A.T." basically premiered as a mid-season replacement for ABC's Monday Night Football where it faced competition between two prime-time CBS comedies "Maude",and "Rhoda"(which was the spin-off of The Mary Tyler Moore Show),and NBC's Monday Night at the Movies. The second and final season saw the series moved from Monday nights to Saturday nights where it again faced competition from two CBS comedies "The Mary Tyler Moore Show",and "The Bob Newhart Show" which clobbered it in the ratings along with NBC's Saturday Night at the Movies.
The premise of "S.W.A.T."(Special Weapons and Tactics Unit) consisted of a group of highly skilled men that were called on to tackle cases not to mention handle dangerous situations to intense for the police to handle. These quasi-military armed men worked for the Los Angeles Police Department and were all Vietnam Veterans(that fought in Vietnam) that were called on to handle situations in a precision style manner that had to be done with split second timing in order to save lives and take down the baddies or thugs as quickly as possible and bring them to justice. The series starred veteran actor Steve Forrest(of "The Baron" television series)as Lt. Hondo Harrelson the head man of operations. His second in command was Sgt. Deacon Kay(Rod Perry),and his back up in dangerous situations were Officer T.J. McCabe(James Coleman); Officer Luca(Mark Shera); and Officer Jim Street(Robert Urich).
"S.W.A.T." brought in big time directors,big time writers for some of the great episodes,and not to mention big time guest stars in various episodes ranging Sal Mineo, Christopher George, Cameron Mitchell, to Aldo Ray, Robert Loggia, Stuart Whitman, Leslie Nielsen, Mark Slade, William Windom, Farrah Fawcett, Don Stroud, Clint Young, Robert Webber, Carl Weathers, James Darren, Susan Dey, Rose Marie, Phil Silvers, to Michael Conrad, Lesley-Anne Warren, Tom Skerritt, Belinda Tolbert, to Simon Oakland, Loni Anderson, just to name a few of the guest stars that appeared in several episodes.
The best episodes from it's First Season starts off with the groundbreaking pilot episode "The Killing Ground". The other episodes that were not only dramatic but action-packed excitement consisted of "A Coven of Killers"(Season 1,Episode 2); "Pressure Cooker"(Season 1, Episode 4); "Jungle War"(Season 1, Episode 6); "Blind Man's Bluff" (Season 1, Episode 11); "Bravo Enigma"(Season 1, Episode 8); "Death Score"(Season 1, Episode 13);and "The Sole Survivors"(Season 1, Episode 12).
The best episodes from it's Second and Final Season consisted of the two-part season opener "The Deadly Tide",Parts 1 & 2(Season 2, Episodes 1 and 2). Others included "The Vendetta"(Season 2,Episode 6); "The Running Man",Parts 1 & 2(Season 2,Episodes 16 and 17); "The Soldier On The Hill"(Season 2,Episode 23); "Kill S.W.A.T"(Season 2,Episode 3),and the final episode of the series "Officer Luca,You're Dead!"(Season 2,Episode 25).
The series was known for it's opening theme song which became a top-ten hit for the R&B/Pop group Rhythm Heritage in 1976 that were certified Gold and was Grammy nominated that same year. As far as the television series itself was concerned, it premiered in a decade that was littered with detective dramas,and police shows and it was highly criticized for it's violent content that was a rarely with cop shows of the 1970's. When "S.W.A.T." was abruptly canceled in the Spring of 1976, the powers that be over at ABC didn't waste any time for it's replacement where another successful Aaron Spelling produced cop drama "Starsky and Hutch" took over on it's Saturday night prime time slot.
**This commentary was written on January 29,2016 in commemoration with the show's 40th anniversary that was timelined to be written on February 17, 2015.
The Time Tunnel (1966)
Escapism in the highest order. Commemorating Irwin Allen's The Time Tunnel on it's 50th anniversary
"The Time Tunnel" when it premiered in the fall of 1966,was creator- producer-director Irwin Allen's third science fiction series for television following the success of "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea",and "Lost In Space". "The Time Tunnel" was also Allen's second television series produced for ABC-TV. The series was placed on ABC's prime-time Friday night schedule on September 9,1966 which in fact survived a season run of 30 episodes in color until it left on April 7,1967. The reason why this show didn't survive was that the network put this show opposite the hugely popular "The Wild,Wild West",and against "The Man From UNCLE" that clobbered it in the ratings. "The Time Tunnel" was an escapism of a series that was big in production,big in casting and big in the array of guest stars that were featured each week. With Art Direction William J. Creber, Rodger Maus and Jack Martin Smith; Set Decoration by Walter M. Scott and Norman Rockett; Special Visual Effects by L.B. Abbott;and Cinematopgraphy by Winton C. Hoch,with an opening theme from composer John Williams(who also composed the themes to other Irwin Allen produced shows from "Lost In Space" to "The Land of the Giants" before he became famous of his theatrical scores of films like "The Poseidon Adventure","The Towering Inferno","Jaws",and "Star Wars")."The Time Tunnel" upon it's short-lived run won the Prime Time Emmy in 1967 for Individual Achievement in Cinematopgraphy and Photographic Special Effects(L.B. Abbott),and was nominated that same year for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematopgraphy(Winton C. Hoch). Most of the props used for the series were borrowed from other Irwin Allen shows like "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea",and "Lost In Space".
Top name directors ranging from Nathan Juran, William Hale, Harry Harris, Herschel Daugherty, Murray Golden, Jerry Hopper,and Paul Stanley with Irwin Allen contributing directing the pilot episode of the series. Great writers also came from creator-producer Irwin Allen,but also from Bob and Wanda Duncan, William Welch, Carey Wilber, Allan Balter, Barney Slater, Leonard Stadd, Robert Hamner, William Read Woodfield, Theo Apstein, and Shimon Wincelberg.
Believe it or not, Irwin Allen's "The Time Tunnel" debuted in the same week as "Star Trek", "The Green Hornet",and "Tarzan",the premiere episode of "The Time Tunnel" had our heroes traveling through the portals of time ranging from them going back to the days of Pearl Harbor, The Old West, Sherwood Forest, going aboard the doomed Titanic,through the Roman Legions, Greek Mythology,and in one episode transported back to the Prehistoric/Jurassic Period. The starring leads Robert Colbert and James Darren were very familiar faces with TV audiences especially Darren himself who was still idolized as a "teen idol" from his stint in the theatrical "Gidget" movies and starring opposite Gregory Peck and David Niven in "The Guns of Navarone". The series also starred Whit Bissell,John Zaremba,and former Miss USA Lee Meriwether(in her first-ever television series). Each episode had our heroes going from one dimension of history to another and still you had to respect Irwin Allen for attempting to make something more and interestingly profound than "Voyage",but it survived as one of the shortest of the Irwin Allen produced series. Big name guest stars ranging from Michael Rennie, to Gary Merrill appeared in the pilot episode. Other guest stars were Lew Gallo, Michael Ansara, Malachi Throne, Rhodes Reason, Kevin Hagen, Anne Dore, Michael Pate, Perry Lopez, Rodolfo Hoyos,Jr., John Hoyt, Carroll O'Connor, Paul Fix, Vitina Marcus, Linden Chiles, Scott Marlowe, David Opatoshu, Nehemiah Persoff, to Victor Jory, Ellen Burstyn, Ben Cooper, Torin Thatcher, Mako, John Lupton, Jim Davis, Dee Hartford, R.G. Armstrong, Regis Toomey, Ford Rainey, John Napier, Vince Howard, Susan Flannery, Don Knight, Robert Riordan, George Matsui, Abel Fernandez, Richard Jaeckel, Robert Duvall, Gunnar Hellstrom, Allen Case, Eduardo Ciannelli, Paul Mantee, Jan Merlin, Heather Young, John Saxon, and Robert Walker, Jr.
The best episodes from this short-lived science fiction/fantasy series were very good and I start with the series pilot episode "Rendezvous With Yesterday". The other episodes included were "The Day The Sky Fell In", "The Revenge of the Gods","The Revenge of Robin Hood", "The Alamo", "The Invasion", "The Walls of Jericho", "The Pirates of Deadman's Island", "The Last Patrol", "A Chase Through Time", "Crack of Doom", "The Death Trap","The End of the World",and "The Idol of Death".
When the series was abruptly canceled on April 7, 1967 the network didn't take long to find a replacement on it's Friday night schedule for the 1967-1968 season. The series that replaced "The Time Tunnel" was a Western which was also short-lived as well......"Hondo" that was produced through John Wayne's production company Batjac Productions for ABC-TV that lasted 26 episodes in color and starred Ralph Teague in the title role.
Get Smart (1965)
Groundbreaking comedy series that premiered at the height of the espionage craze of the 1960's. Commemorating "Get Smart" on it's 50th anniversary
Created by the team of Mel Brooks and Buck Henry,and produced by Leonard Stern(who served as executive producer)along with Burt Nodella, Jay Sandrich, Arnie Rosen,Chris Hayward,and David Davis, the television series "Get Smart" premiered on NBC's Saturday night prime time schedule on September 18,1965 and remained for four seasons producing 112 episodes(which also includes the pilot episode of the series which was in black and white)until March 29, 1969. Then after it was canceled by NBC in 1969,the series in it's final season went to CBS where it ended up on it's Friday night prime time schedule for 26 episodes on September 26,1969 until the final episode of the series on May 15,1970. "Get Smart" in all produced 138 episodes in total where it ran on two major television networks first on NBC and then over at CBS in it's final season from 1965 to 1970 spanning five seasons. Only the pilot episode of the series was in black and white. Episodes 2 thru 137 were in color.
"Get Smart" upon it's premiere in 1965 was truly a product of it's era. Creators Mel Brooks along with Buck Henry developed a comedy spoof about a bumbling secret agent that was cross between James Bond and Inspector Clouseau. This series came at the height of the "James Bond/007", "The Pink Panther" craze of the 1960's when espionage shows and comedies were the norm. "Get Smart" premiered on NBC after the success of "The Man From UNCLE" the previous year and had it's television debut one day after CBS aired "The Wild,Wild West",and aired three days after the first episode of the Sheldon Leonard produced espionage series "I Spy" (which was on the same network as part of NBC's prime-time schedule). "Get Smart" was a satirical parody of James Bond and the espionage business in general that was mixed in as a satirical parody of Inspector Clouseau of "The Pink Panther" films. Where James Bond was the smart and suave secret agent,Maxwell Smart was incompetent and clumsy,where in just about any episode was lucky in spite of his screw-ups.
Mel Brooks and Buck Henry centered this show as a spoof on "The Man From UNCLE" where Maxwell Smart(Don Adams)was an agent who worked for the underground secret agency known as CONTROL based somewhere in Washington,D.C.,who were battling the forces behind a sinister organization known as KAOS with the help of Max's assistant,Secret Agent 99,a female counterpart(Barbara Feldon)to whom both agents answer to the head man of CONTROL known as "The Chief"(Edward Platt)who basically had to put up with Max's bumbling incompetency in every aspect. And this is where they got their assignments from "The Chief" since they were the only two agents they had to dispatch. In just about every episode details with an agent or agents of KAOS doing something maleviolent during their dangerous but sometimes hilarious missions. The other CONTROL agents were usually messengers,informants,or worthless counterparts who always seem to get themselves killed. It just about every other episode opens with a CONTROL agent getting killed and it is up to Max and 99 to find out why with Max fouling up one mission after another with hilarious but funny as hell results. CONTROL's arch-nemesis was the diabolical Siegfried(the head of KAOS) played by Bernie Kopell.
"Get Smart" was known for it's very creative gadgets, settings,and often times,characters. Not to mention Max's clever catchphrases always spout out in just about every episode. This is what set the show apart from all the others when it premiered in 1965. The comedical writing and funny lines that what made this stand out was one of the biggest hits of the mid-1960's. The result of "Get Smart" spawned a total of winning 7 Prime-Time Emmys for Best Actor(Don Adams), Best Outstanding Continue Performance,and Best Comedy Writing in a Prime-Time Series(during it's four-year run on NBC) along with 2 Golden Globe nominations for Best Comedy Series in Prime Time. Top name directors ranging from Gary Nelson to Bruce Bilson, James Komack, Earl Bellamy, Jay Sandrich,and Alan Rafkin and top writers from Mel Brooks, Buck Henry, Arne Sultan, Chris Hayward, Leonard Stern, Stan Burns, Allan Burns, Mike Marmer and Dee Caruso contribute to some of the hilarious episodes of the series.
The big time guest stars that appeared on "Get Smart" ranged from Robert Culp, Leonard Nimoy, Victor French, William Schallart, Jonathan Harris, Barbara Bain, Vic Tayback, Larry Storch, Ted Knight, Ernest Borgnine, Vito Scotti, Michael Dunn, Bill Dana, Don Rickles, Carol Burnett, Stu Gilliam, Julie Sommars, Cesar Romero, Jamie Farr, Marj Dusay, Edward G. Robinson, Regis Philbin, Simon Oakland, Vincent Price, to Antoinette Bower, Julie Newmar, John Dehner, Broderick Crawford, to walk on cameos from Bob Hope, Danny Thomas, Steve Allen, Buddy Hackett, to Milton Berle, Phyllis Diller, and Sid Caesar. Even walk on cameos from other celebrities made appearances on the show mostly playing extras in various episodes.
The astounding success of "Get Smart" spawned the 1980 theatrical film "The Nude Bomb"(with Don Adams and Barbara Feldon reprising their original roles from the television series),and in 1989 ABC aired the two hour movie "Get Smart Again!"(again with Don Adams and Barbara Feldon in the original roles of Max and 99),and in 1995,the FOX Television Network brought back "Get Smart" as a weekly series with Don Adams in charge of CONTROL and his son fighting the forces of KAOS. A 2009 theatrical feature based on "Get Smart" starring Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway did big business and a sequel to the 2009 theatrical feature in expected to come out in 2018.
The Wild Wild West (1965)
James Bond on horseback. Commemorating "The Wild,Wild West" on its 50th anniversary
The television series "The Wild,Wild West",represented CBS at it's most daring that in 1965,creator-producer Michael Garrison developed a television show like no other. A show that was part Western and part Espionage/Spy genre with elements of Ian Fleming, H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Louis L'Amour,and Lewis Carroll. A series that came at the peak of the James Bond/007 craze not to mention when there were a slew of espionage shows on all three television networks when it was virtually inundated with 'secret agent' series with "The Man From UNCLE" becoming the most successful. Not to mention other espionage-spy laced series that were dazzling and eye-popping ranging from "The Avengers","The Saint","Danger Man","I Spy",and some that were not like the short-lived "Amos Burke,Secret Agent",just to name a few. But the most unabashedly entertaining series of the genre was also the most far fetched that stood out from all the rest. Set in the 1870's in the administration of President Ulysses S. Grant,the series featured two secret service agents operating out of private train with an assortment of special gadgets while saving the nation and the world from the forces of evil.
"The Wild,Wild West" lived up to its title,and had more imagination,romance, and exciting action-packed episodes than any other series of it's day. Created and Produced by Michael Garrison along with Producers John Mantley, Phillip Leacock, Bruce Lansbury, Gene L.Coon, and Leonard Katzman(who served as Executive Producer),the series aired on September 17,1965 and was placed in prime-time on CBS' Friday night schedule for the remainder of it's run,lasting four seasons on the air and producing 104 episodes until it's abrupt cancellation on April 1, 1969. Out of the 104 episodes that this series produced only 26 episodes in it's first season were telecast in black and white from September 17,1965 until April 22, 1966. Seasons 2 thru 4 produced 78 color episodes than ran from September 16, 1966 until April 1, 1969.
The Espionage/Western series starred Robert Conrad(of "Hawaiian Eye") as James West,the dedicated,handsome,resourceful secret agent. While Conrad's acting skills stood out as impressive,he was in superb physical condition for the part,and performed all of his own stunts, throughout the series entire run. Dressed in a waist coat and tight toreador pants he exuded a sex appeal that no other star of that decade could match. His partner,Artemus Gordon,was portrayed by respected character actor Ross Martin(an actor with impeccable credentials ranging from his work in television series like "Mr. Lucky",to his guest star appearances on "The Twilight Zone","Bonanza","Peter Gunn","One Step Beyond","Naked City",and "Richard Diamond",along with his theatrical work in such movies as "The Great Race","An Experiment In Terror", and "Geronimo" just to name a few)who was the master of disguise.
The premise of the show was simple with episodes entitled "The Night Of.." in which this week's villain or villainess would come up with a nefarious scheme that would involved weapons of mass destruction or a murder or an attempt to assassinate a politician that brings our leading agents West and Gordon to solve either the mystery of clues or a murder of who done it in the meantime while our heroes would have to defeat the henchmen(group of stuntman who would reappear in every episode in a variety of disguises),while West ends up seducing the inevitably girl in distress who is involved with the villain's schemes. Each episode would feature several spectacular fight scenes between West and the henchmen,or one or two disguises for Gordon where our heroes are captured by the villain which leads to a climax where our heroes,held prisoner or trapped inside one of the villain's surprise chambers would find a clever means to escape with an incredible array of special gadgets. Once freed,they solve the mystery or the murder that goes along with the plot and towards the end they end up in another spectacular fight scene with West or Gordon destroying the villain's weapon of destruction or having a bare-knucking climated fight cliffhanger between West and the villain while West and Gordon captures our evil villain or villainess and they henchmen to justice.
Many of Hollywood's legendary actors ranging from Boris Karloff to Vincent Price, Agnes Moorehead, Victor Buono, Ida Lupino,and Ted Knight would guest star as this week's villain,but the one actor who became the most popular,by far,and would reappear the most frequently throughout the show's entire run was the brilliantly funny,unpredictable,yet evil dwarf Dr. Miguelito Loveless,portrayed by the gifted actor Michael Dunn who became more popular than Conrad and Martin,but what made the show stand out was the Loveless episodes of the series which were the most stylish and entertaining. Not to mention as far as guest stars go,Robert Conrad recruited his former "Hawaiian Eye" stars for several episodes with included Anthony Eisley and Connie Stevens. Not to mention other guest stars from Jim Backus, Alan Hale, Jr., Dabbs Greer, Ray Walston, Martin Landau, Leslie Nielsen, Carroll O'Connor, Sammy Davis, Jr., Tina Louise, Dawn Wells, Ricardo Montalban, Suzanne Pleshette, William Windom, Richard Pryor,and Keenan Wynn just to name a few that made guest star appearances on the show.
The phenomenal success of "The Wild,Wild West" holds a unique position among the spy shows of the 1960's with a huge fan base that is extremely loyal and to those babyboomers who remember watching the show during it's run on CBS. The success after it's cancellation spawned two made for television movies in 1979 with "The Wild,Wild West Revisited" and in 1980 with "More Wild,Wild West" featuring Robert Conrad and Ross Martin in their original roles. A show that even 50 years after its debut still entertains. Happy Anniversary to "The Wild,Wild,West"
I Spy (1965)
The series that became groundbreaking and shattered barriers...commemorating the original "I Spy" television series on its 50th anniversary
The television series "I Spy" represented NBC at it's most daring that in 1965 actor-producer-creator Sheldon Leonard,best known behind the guiding force behind "The Andy Griffith Show", "The Danny Thomas Show aka Make Room For Daddy",and "The Dick Van Dyke Show" could offer a first-class dramatic entry as well. Certainly during the 1960's when civil rights was an explosive issue,and television series were predictable and shot exclusively on studio sound stages and back lots,a program that was the first to filmed 'on location' and to featured an African-American actor in a leading role for the first time(in a mainstream dramatic series that was totally brand new in 1965)was not only revolutionary,but potentially disastrous as well. It is to everyone's credit that the powers that be over at NBC,which was most successful network at that time was willing to take this extreme risk and introduce this remarkable series to American audiences that would be the first to be filmed on location in exotic places around the world and in full color.
Robert Culp was an established television and film star when the series debuted with credentials that included his work on television Westerns( the series,"Trackdown" from 1957-1959),his work on the first major made for-TV movie ("The Hanged Man"),guest star appearances("The Outer Limits","Naked City", "The Virginian", "Rawhide", "Gunsmoke", "The Corruptors","Bonanza","Mr.Novak","The Man From UNCLE"),and strong theatrical film work("PT 109", "Sunday In New York","The Raiders"),and his credentials as gifted writer and actor. The premise for "I Spy" was the adventures of a tennis pro Kelly Robinson played by Robert Culp and his trainer Alexander Scott(A Rhodes Scholar) played by newcomer Bill Cosby,who were actually CIA agents who would use their covers on worldwide missions,was hammered out. Culp knew he had the right formula with Bill Cosby and this is where the show took off. The co-starring role became the focus of attention throughout the series with the initial focus was on Culp's flamboyant 'Kelly Robinson" and Cosby's 'Alexander Scott' relegated to the serious role of the 'contact' man with the CIA. While Cosby having a way to 'punching up' his dialog this had the potential of the actor putting in one-liners and asides that not only improve the scenes but gave the character of Scott a humanity that the scripts lacked. Not only were the episodes became funny but it also added in several good action-packed sequences that made this show stand out. Not to mention some of the best dramatic acting ever assembled. Thus it became television's most popular espionage buddy show and the result won three Prime-Time Emmys during it's sensational three year run at NBC.
The creative force behind the show were writers David Friedkin and Morton Fine and cinematographer Fouad Said under there production company "Triple F Productions" under the aegis of Desilu Studios where the series was produced. Fine and Friedkin were co-producers and head writers and wrote the scripts for 16 episodes, one of which Friedkin directed. Friedkin also dabbing in acting and appeared in two episodes in the first season of "I Spy". The series aired on September 15, 1965 and was placed on NBC's Wednesday prime-time schedule opposite "Amos Burke" and "The Danny Kaye Show" that did very well in the ratings. The series lasted three seasons producing 83 episodes in color until April 15,1968. "I Spy" ran for 2 seasons on Wednesday nights,and in its third season the show moved to Monday nights. Big name writers included Jerry Belson, Stephen Kandel, Edward J. Lakso, Robert Culp, Chester Krumholz, Jackson Gillis, Earl Barret,and Oliver Crawford. Big name directors from Earl Bellamy, Christian Nyby, Paul Wendkos, Leo Penn, David Friedkin, Sheldon Leonard, Tom Gries, Mark Rydell, Anton Leader, Richard Benedict, Hal Cooper, Ralph Senensky, John Rich, Richard C. Sarafian, and Allan Reisner.
Big name guest stars consisted of seasoned African-American actors ranging from Cicely Tyson, Ivan Dixon, Diana Sands, Abbey Lincoln, Brock Peters, Eartha Kitt, Godfrey Cambridge, Leslie Uggams, Beah Richards, and Raymond St. Jacques. The guest stars that appeared on "I Spy" included Carroll O'Connor, Jim Backus, Maurice Evans, Nehemiah Persoff, Victor Buono, Joey Heatherton, Lee Weaver, Julie London, Roger C. Carmel, France Nuyen, Ricardo Montalban, Gene Hackman, James Best, Nancy Wilson, Madlyn Rhue, Jay Novello, Lloyd Nolan, Kamala Devi,Boris Karloff, and Harold J.Stone. along with Martin Landau. Even Sheldon Leonard was a guest star on an episode as well as producer David Friedkin was also a guest star. Other guest stars included newcomer George Stanford-Brown,along with James Earl Jones and Roscoe Lee Browne. Even "Andy Griffith" alumnus Ronnie Howard was also a guest star in an episode.
The best episodes from this Emmy winning series "Home To Judgment", "Mainly on the Plains", "The War Lord", "Bet Me A Dollar", "Trial By Treehouse", "Dragon's Teeth", "So Long, Patrick Henry", "A Cup of Kindness", "Bridge of Spies", "Danny Was A Million Laughs", "The Loser",and "It's All Done With Mirrors" and so much more. The phenomenal success of "I Spy" basically opened the doors for other African-American actors who would go on to bigger and better careers,thanks in part to Sheldon Leonard who opened the door for Bill Cosby who went on to make historical contributions to this series. And the overall achievements that the television series "I Spy" made opened the doors for other actors as Nichelle Nichols("Star Trek"),Rosey Grier("Daniel Boone"), Greg Morris("Mission:Impossible"), Don Mitchell("Ironside"),Clarence Williams III("The Mod Squad"),Diahann Carroll("Julia"), Robert Hooks ("N.Y.P.D."),Otis Young("The Outcasts"),and Raymond St. Jacques("Rawhide"),and Don Marshall("The Land of the Giants") and many more. Without the success and the launching of "I Spy" this would have not been possible. Happy Annniversary "I Spy".
Starsky and Hutch (1975)
The show that launched a genre. Commemorating "Starsky and Hutch" on its 40th anniversary
Before "Miami Vice". Before "Cagney and Lacey". Before "Lethal Weapon". Before "Tenspeed and Brownshoe". Before "48 Hours". And before "Hardcastle and McCormick" there was the one cop show the defined it's own character and launched the cop show genre as we know it today. That television show was "Starsky & Hutch". The series became one of the biggest hits at ABC producing 92 episodes during its four seasons on the air running from September 10,1975 until May 15, 1979. Created by William Blinn and Produced by the team of Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg(along with Joesph T. Naar and Adrian Samish) under their production company Spelling-Goldberg Productions for the ABC Television Network. Spelling-Goldberg productions were behind an array of great shows that they produced ranging from "The Rookies", and "SWAT" to name a few.
Interesting points about this show. "Starsky & Hutch" premiered as a pilot 90-minute movie that aired as the "ABC Movie of the Week" on April 30, 1975. It was a smash hit and so successful that the network gave the greenlight for this as a weekly series on September 10, 1975. So successful that it was nominated the Golden Globe in 1976 for Best Television Series and won the People's Choice Award in 1976 as Overall Favorite Television Program(tied with another ABC show "Welcome Back Kotter that same year). The series starred David Soul(coming off another TV-series "Here Come The Brides",and "Owen Marshall:Counselor At Law")and Paul Michael-Glaser(a former daytime serial actor who crossed over in theatrical films starring in the Oscar nominated "Fiddler on the Roof",and his guest star appearances on television series like "Kojak", "Cannon","The Streets of San Francisco","The Rockford Files",and "Toma")as undercover detectives who work for the Los Angeles Police Department under the supervision watch of Captain Dobey(Bernie Hamilton). The informant was the street-wise/educated sidekick Huggy Bear(Antonio Fargas) who know what crimes were committed before Starsky and Hutch and even Captain Dobey solve them. There cases ranged from police corruption to murders, rapists, cults, bank robbers, and whatever else was creeping in the streets of modern day Los Angeles in the mid-1970's. This was a series that was action-packed bringing in big time guest stars with superb acting,superb direction and excellent production values.
The show had a excellent premise in its first couple of seasons(Micheal Mann wrote and directed the first four episodes for Season 1)with some big time directors ranging from George McCowan, Earl Bellamy, Don Weis, to Sutton Roley, Jack Starrett, Fernando Lamas, Barry Shear, Leo Penn, Dick Moder, Michael Schultz, and Ivan Dixon. Even Paul Michael-Glaser and David Soul were behind the camera for various episodes. Big time writers from William Blinn, Michael Fisher, Rick Edelstein, Ron Friedman, to Edward J. Lakso, Robert I. Holt, James Schmerer, Amanda J. Green, to Jackson Gillis, Mann Rubin, Jeff Kanter, Dan Ullman, and Sidney Ellis. Not to mention Paul Michael-Glaser who also wrote an episode for the series.
Not to mention the guest stars ranging from Suzanne Somers, Alex Rocco, Frank Converse, Stephen McNally, Janet Margolin, Lynda Carter, Will Geer, Joan Blondell, Roger E. Mosley, Ron Moody, George Dzundza, Carl Betz, Albert Paulsen, Karen Valentine, Val Avery, John Ritter, Morgan Woodward, Malachi Throne, Kim Cattrall, Gary Lockwood, Samantha Eggar, Don Gordon, Philip Michael-Thomas, Yvonne Craig, Calvin Lockhart, Scatman Crothers, Bill Duke, Edward James-Olmos, Al White and many more.
Several good episodes do stand out from this series that included the series premiered pilot episode "Savage Sunday"(Season 1, Episode 1). The best episodes included "The Set-Up",Parts 1 and 2(Season 2, Episodes 16 and 17); "The Fix"(Season 1, Episode 5); "The Plague",Parts 1 & 2(Season 3, Episodes 8 and 9); "The Hostages"(Season 1, Episode 15); "Death Rides"(Season 1, Episode 3); "Starsky and Hutch are Guilty"(Season 2, Episode 25); "A Coffin For Starsky"(Season 1, Episode 21); "Targets With A Badge",Parts 1 & 2(Season 4, Episodes 18 and 19); "The Trap"(Season 3, Episode 15); "The Shootout"(Season 1, Episode 14); "The Bloodbath" (Season 2, Episode 14); "Hutchinson For Murder One"(Season 3, Episode 18); "Satan's Witches"(Season 3, Episode 16); "The Committee"(Season 2, Episode 21); "The Trap"(Season 3, Episode 15); "Death In A Different Place"(Season 3, Episode 5); "The Hostages"(Season 1, Episode 15);and the final episode of the series "Sweet Revenge"(Season 4, Episode 22). The worst episodes of "Starsky and Hutch"...."Murder At Sea",Parts 1 & 2(Season 2, Episodes 3 and 4); "Huggy Bear and the Turkey"(Season 2, Episode 20); "Ballad For A Blue Lady"(Season 4,Episode 14); "The Golden Angel(Season 4, Episode 15);and "The Bounty Hunter"(Season 1,Episode 22).
ABC kept moving the show around in different time slots to find its audience which was very successful during its entire four year-run with Season 1 on Wednesday nights for the 1975-1976 season. The next season it moved to Saturday nights for the next two seasons. The final season saw the show moved again to Tuesday nights until its cancellation in 1979. The show that eventually replaced "Starsky & Hutch" after four seasons was another Aaron Spelling produced series...the short-lived science fiction/drama "The Lazarus Syndrome" that lasted one season.
Lost in Space (1965)
Space Family Robinson. Commemorating Lost In Space on its 50th anniversary
Interesting points here on the commemoration of the show's 50th anniversary. First off, it was creator-producer-director Irwin Allen's second television series after the phenomenal success of "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea",and his first weekly television series for CBS. "Lost In Space" was the first big-budget, prime-time science fiction/fantasy action-adventure series for television that originally aired on its Wednesday night time slot in prime-time. "Lost In Space" ran for three seasons airing from September 15, 1965 until March 6, 1968 producing 83 episodes. Only the first season was in black and white producing 29 episodes that ran from September 15, 1965 until April 27,1966. The next two seasons of the series produced 54 episodes in color(Season 2 consisting of 30 episodes and the third and final season 24 episodes)that ran from September 14, 1966 until March 6, 1968 for Irwin Allen Productions/Twentieth Century-Fox Television and the CBS Television Network.
"Lost In Space" had a top-cast of well known and respected actors that included Guy Williams("The Legend of Zorro"), June Lockhart("Timmy and Lassie"),Jonathan Harris("The Third Man",and "The Bill Dana Show"), Mark Goddard("Robert Taylor's The Detectives",and "Johnny Ringo")and Marta Kristen("The Man From UNCLE"),and two of the best child actors of the era Billy Mumy("The Twilight Zone"),and Angela Cartwright("Make Room For Daddy").Throughout it's impressive three season run and 83 episodes(more episodes than Star Trek on NBC)it was usually the highest- rated show in its time slot(going up against NBC's The Virginian and usually coming in neck to neck with Batman on ABC,believe it or not). The series boasted top name writers for some of the episodes ranging from Peter Packer to Carey Wilbur, Barney Slater, William Welch, Allen Balter, Jack Turley, Robert and Wanda Duncan, Herman Groves, Irwin Allen, and William Read- Woodfield. Top name directors ranging from Don Richardson, Sobey Martin, Nathan Juran, Ezra Stone, Harry Harris, Sutton Roley, Jus Addiss, to Leo Penn, Irving J. Moore, Leonard Horn, Alvin Ganzer, Paul Stanley, and Alexander Singer.
Big name guest stars ranging from Albert Salmi, Michael Rennie, Kurt Russell, Warren Oates, Michael J. Pollard, Gerald Mohr, Henry Jones, Malachi Throne, Liam Sullivan, Vitina Marcus, Strother Martin, along with Mercedes McCambridge, Francine York, Sherry Jackson, Kevin Hagen, Daniel J. Travanti, Arte Johnson, Alan Hewitt, Lyle Waggoner, Al Lewis, and Richard Basehart. Spectacular art direction by William Creber(of Fantastic Voyage and Planet of the Apes),make-up by John Chambers(Planet of the Apes),and an iconic Robot designed by Robert Kinoshita(Forbidden Planet and Fantastic Voyage),and ultra-cool theme songs and music by John Williams(of Star Wars and Jaws fame). It had alien chimps(Debbie the Bloop in Season 1),one-eyed cyclopeses,and even talking carrots. What made the series stand out was it's cliffhangers during the first 2 seasons with the family facing constant peril and danger where it left viewers in suspense("To Be Continue...NEXT WEEK...Same Time, Same Channel)until the next episode and so much more. The format cliffhangers from the first 2 seasons would change over by the show's third and final season.
Getting to the episodes and let me say that the show's first season opens with five dramatic and suspenseful episodes that rival some of the best science fiction stories out there ranging from the pilot episode "The Reluctant Stowaway" to "The Derelict". Then there were the other three that also stood out from "Island In The Sky","There Were Giants In The Earth",to "My Friend, Mr. Nobody", the two-part episode "The Keeper",and "The Hungry Sea" where the first season hits a road bump with "Welcome Stranger" which was very dramatic in its impact. Then the show takes a lurching turn in "The Sky Pirate". Season 2 picks up where the Season 1 left off this time in color with several good episodes ranging from "The Prisoners of Space","Trip Through The Robot",and "The Ghost Planet". The third and final season of the series saw "The Anti- Matter Man", "Hunter's Moon", "Visit to a Hostile Planet",and "Condemned of Space" stood out as the best episodes of the series.
The worst episodes that came out of Lost In Space's three-year run consisted of the worst of them all "The Great Vegetable Rebellion",and from there the episodes got even worst and some outrageously over the top and ridicious ranging from "The Thief of Outer Space", "The Space Croppers", "Princess of Space", "Castles of Space", "The Questing Beast", "The Girl From The Green Dimension", "Space Beauty", "West of Mars", "The Curse of Cousin Smith",and "Mutiny In Space".
When "Lost In Space" was abruptly canceled in the Spring of 1968 after three seasons and 83 episodes the powers that be over at CBS didn't waste any time in finding a replacement on it's Wednesday night prime time schedule for the 1968-1969 season which was the another action/adventure series from creator-producer Ivan Tors called "Daktari" that eventually replaced "Lost In Space".
The Big Valley (1965)
The network's answer to Bonanza. Commemorating The Big Valley television series on its 50th anniversary
"The Big Valley" was created by A.I. Bezzerides and Louis F. Edelman and produced by the team of Arnold Laven, Jules Levy, and Arthur Gardner under their production company Levy-Gardner-Laven Productions for Four Star Television. The series originally ran for four seasons at ABC-TV from September 15, 1965 until May 19, 1969 producing 112 episodes in color. This was the first time that Four Star Television(the company founded by Dick Powell that produced Westerns like "Wanted;Dead or Alive", "Lawman of the Plains",and "The Rifleman")produced a weekly television series that was produced and filmed in color and was ABC's answer to "Bonanza" which was on a rival network. The series was without a doubt, big in production,big in bring on top-name guest stars,and big on riveting action and exciting Western adventure each week.
The series starred Oscar winning actress Barbara Stanwyck as Victoria Barkley as the widow of a wealthy 19th century California rancher Tom Barkley(whose name was mentioned in various episodes)along with her two sons Jarrod Thomas Barkley(Richard Long),the eldest son who was a respected attorney at law and was highly educated who handled all of the family's legal and business affairs. Nicholas "Nick" Barkley(Peter Breck )was the hot-tempered one who managed the family ranch but also got into fist fights but had a carefree side. Audra Barkley(Linda Evans) was Victoria's only daughter who was self-absorbed, bold and forward. Heath Barkley(Lee Majors) was the illegitimate son of Victoria's late husband who literally had to fight his way into the Barkley home,but was rough and tough on the outside and caring and sensitive on the inside. The youngest Barkley son was Eugene(Charles Briles),a medical student studying a Berkeley(Charles Briles appeared in Season 1 only in eight episodes and then in episode 21 of the series was written out of the show). Silas(Napoleon Whiting)was the family's housekeeper and denture servant.
The story lines were indeed well-written that brought in big name directors and big name guest stars ranging from Julie Harris, Cloris Leachman, Colleen Dewhurst, Richard Dreyfuss, Bradford Dillman, James Whitmore, Warren Oates, Charles Bronson, Diane Baker, James Gregory, to Andrew Duggan, Barbara Luna, Julia Adams, Yaphet Kotto, Beah Richards, to Dan O'Herlihy, Kathy Garver, Ron Howard, Katherine Ross, Darby Hinton, Ellen Burstyn, Julie London, Pernell Roberts, William Shatner, Leslie Nielsen, Bruce Dern, Yvonne Craig, Johnny Crawford, Lee Grant, Martin Landau, George Kennedy, Lou Rawls, Maurice Evans, Brock Peters, Royal Dano, Joesph Campanella, Buddy Hackett,and Robert Walker Junior just to name a few of the guest stars that appeared in various episodes of "The Big Valley". Actor Kevin Hagen appeared six times as a guest star in various episodes.
The series during it's first season won Barbara Stanwyck the Emmy for Lead Actress in a Drama Series in 1966. She was nominated two more times in 1967 and 1968 and earned three Golden Globe Nominations as Best Television Star(1966,1967,and 1968). Actors Richard Long and Peter Breck as well as Lee Majors received Emmy nominations for their work on the series. The series aired on ABC's prime-time Wednesday night schedule for all of Season 1(1965-1966). The second season saw the series moved to Monday nights for the remainder of it's run(Seasons 2-4 from 1966- 1969). The reason why "The Big Valley" was canceled in it's final season due to poor ratings when it went up against the powerhouse of "The Carol Burnett Show" that clobbered it in the ratings. The show that eventually replaced "The Big Valley" for the 1969-1970 season was the anthology comedy-drama series "Love,American Style" where former "Big Valley" regulars Peter Breck, Lee Majors and Linda Evans made guest appearances.
Several great episodes do stand out from this Emmy winning and Golden Globe nominated series ranging from the pilot episode "Palms of Glory",to "The Prize", "Top of the Stairs", "Shadow of a Giant", "A Flock of Trouble", "Earthquake!", "The Death Merchant", "Hell Hath No Fury", "Miranda", "The Iron Box", "Boots with My Father's Name", "Point and Counterpoint", "The Profit and the Lost", "Night of the Executioner","Ladykiller", "The Long Ride", "The Emperor of Rice", "The Murdered Party","The Buffalo Man", "Joshua Watson", "Days of Wrath", "My Son My Son",and the two-parter episode "Explosion!" just to name a few.