August 18, 2012

This week in TV Guide: August 19, 1972

The Minnesota State Fair adds a day while the Republican National Convention subtracts one, the NFL exhibition season is in full swing on the eve of the Munich “Peaceful Olympics,” and the late Chad Everett turns back the cultural clock. These stories and more, in This Week in TV Guide.

As you're reading this, we're days from being back in Minnesota for the first time since moving to Raleigh, at the State Fair.  Minnesota has one of the nation's great state fairs, and for decades it ran for ten days, with the traditional finish on Labor Day.  In 1972, for the first time, the fair expanded to 11 days, beginning on Friday instead of Saturday.  A few short years later it would add another day, extending the run to 12 days, where it has stayed ever since.  If I had next week's TV Guide in front of me, we'd see that the local TV stations will be out in force for the Fair, spending an hour or so a day covering the events. 

There's a tendency, a comforting one, to think that nothing ever changes at the fair, but as this great ad shows, a lot has changed in 40 years.  For one thing, there aren't any more auto races at the Grandstand - they took the track out a few years ago, converting it to a dedicated concert venue.  Bad move, in my opinion.  The Hippodrome, where the horse shows are held, is now called the Colliseum, the Mexican Village is now the International Bazar, and you can't buy reserved tickets at Dayton's anymore - Dayton's isn't even around.

Admittedly, the State Fair can be a zoo, but for a real zoo nobody does it better than politicians.  After the fiasco that was the Democratic convention, it was the Republicans' turn, and Monday would mark the opening day of their three-day convention in Miami Beach (and it is beyond me why in the name of all that is good and holy parties don't do this three-day schedule today).  The Republicans had planned to have their convention in San Diego, but moved it at the last minute because of fears over possible demonstrations.  Since Miami Beach had just hosted the Dems a few weeks earlier, they were only too happy to accommodate the GOP as well.

I don't know whether or not the change of venue had anything to do with the shortened schedule - after all, Nixon and Agnew faced no opposition, there were no major platform controversies; there was, in short, no real reason to use up any more time.  The temporary convention chairman, Ronald Reagan*, kicked things off on Monday night, along with a speech by GOP Chairman Bob Dole (who was old even then), and another of Nixon's old adversaries, Nelson Rockefeller, nominated him on Tuesday night.  Wednesday Agnew gave his acceptance speech, leading into Nixon's own speech, which was delivered from what I think was the tallest and largest rostrum I've ever seen at a political convention.  It not only had the presidential seal on it, it also had the state logos of every state in the country. There were some pre-convention shows leading up to Monday, but not many; there just wasn't that much to talk about.

* Many probably thought Reagan was making his last hurrah at a national convention; the joke was on them.

The NFL season was only 14 games long in 1972, and didn't start until the middle of September.  However, if you were ready for some football, no fear: the six-game pre-season schedule was in full swing.  These games, such as NBC's Raiders-Rams* game on Saturday and CBS's Redskins-Lions tilt on Friday, were billed as big events, and for once this kind of hype actually had some merit to it.  Back then, in the days before football players spent their entire off-seasons working out or getting into bar fights, coaches generally used their starters for substantial parts of the pre-season. In the late 60s, prior to the formal merger of the NFL and AFL, the leagues would play pre-season games against each other, and since there was no inter-league play except for the Super Bowl, there were some real bragging rights at stake.  That rivalry had died down somewhat by 1972, the second year of the merged leagues, but pre-season games were still watchable.

* An interesting game, between a team that would move from Oakland to Los Angeles and then back to Oakland again, and a team that had moved to Los Angeles from Cleveland and would eventually move to St. Louis.  As of this writing, LA still doesn't have an NFL team.  They do have the Stanley Cup, though.

Opposite the Redskins-Lions, ABC countered with a two-hour preview of the Summer Olympics, which were to begin the following day in Munich.  (The opening ceremonies used to be like that; held in the morning or early afternoon of the first day, followed by actual athletic competition.)  Although it isn't mentioned in this issue (it would be in the following week's Olympic issue), the Munich Olympics were supposed to be peaceful, an opportunity to erase the bad memories of Hitler and the 1936 Berlin games.  Here's how the next week's TV Guide puts it:
The atmosphere surrounding the Games should be thick with Bavarian Gemutlichkeit. A German Olympic official has promised, "We know only too well that crimes have been committed in the German name, and how many people have suffered . . . These Olympics will be what they are supposed to be: the great meeting of the youth of the world; of the new, hopefully enlightened generation; and thus a small contribution to world peace."
Ironic, isn't it?

There's not a whole lot more to write about in this issue; the convention takes out most of the week's programming, and the rest tends to be reruns.  In one of those reruns, William F. Buckley Jr's Firing Line features an appearance by the controversial psychologist B.F. Skinner, who might fit right in with today's ultra-liberals: "In his book Beyond Freedom and Dignity, Skinner proposes that man be controlled and conditioned to serve group interests."

The last word in this heavily political issue, though, belongs to the late Chad Everett, who died just a couple of weeks ago.  Everett was riding high on the success of Medical Center in 1972, and Jeanie Kasindorf's profile highlights some of Everett's, shall we say, controversial viewpoints, such as referring to his wife as "the most beautiful animal I own."  That remark, on the Dick Cavett show, caused guest Lily Tomlin to walk off, and for that reason alone we probably ought to thank Everett for performing a public service.

Everett was something of a chauvinist, albeit a benign one, who professed that he'd never heard of Gloria Steinem.  But his comments suggest something more: an insight into the the very nature of gender roles, and the cultural controversy that exists today about the definition of masculinity and what it means to be a man in the 21st Century: "Please, women, don't take all of my roles as a protector away.  Let me open doors and take care of you.  If you want to come out and compete in the business world, I'm still gonna give you my seat on the bus."

Everett is a political conservative, who sees Communism trying to "destroy morals and break down the family unit." And also makes what I find a curious comment, and I find myself wondering if it had anything to do with him being involved in a medical show, since I don't think this was something on the radar of the average American in 1972: "For us, day care centers and text tube babies are things that are unthinkable. I know I would rather not have children if the only type of woman who was available to me was one who wanted to get pregnant, transfer her embryo to another woman's body, then receive the baby back from the hospital and stick it in a child care center." 

You might wonder how his wife, the actress Shelby Grant, felt about all this.  Well, she differed from him on some points, but when she died in 2011, she and Chad had been married for 45 years.  Not bad for a piece of property. 

5 comments:

  1. You missed the other major story from this week's TV GUIDE. "Blacks in broadcasting - or out of it?" as seen on the top right cover of the TV Guide. Ironically we still see similar type headlines today....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. D'oh! You're absolutely right - I'd initially meant to give that some major space, and then wound up completely overlooking it. As a penance, I'll do a short bit on that story alone in the next couple of weeks. Thanks!

      Delete
  2. The Redskins would go on to the Super Bowl that year, only to lose to the 17-0 Dolphins. And as I remember, the GOP left San Diego in part because of controversy over ITT's donations to the party; Nixon had wanted San Diego because it was close to his home in San Clemente.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ray, I'm still bitter about that Redskins loss to the Dolphins. I remember acting in a reprehensible way about it afterward - at least for a 12 year old.

      Now that you mention the ITT deal, that does seem to ring a bell. What I do remember from that time - getting a small pamphlet from a Skelly gas station with an election preview, including a picture of the San Diego Sports Arena for the GOP Convention, and a note that "at press time there was a possibility that the convention could be moved." Hard to imagine they could make a last-minute change like that nowadays.

      Delete
  3. Dayton's was later sold after Target (the name of the parent company was changed in 2001) divested itself of everything but the signature stores shortly after the name change. (Dayton Hudson Corporation's name was changed to Target after roughly the majority of sales were from the Bullseye, then Target acquired Marshall Field's, then May Department Stores acquired them and changed the name, ending with the Macy's purchase.)

    No wonder Dario's Indy 500 winner carried #50 -- it was intended to celebrate Dayton's decision to start a discounter that established its future.

    Yes, Democrats were looking at leaving Charlotte after the big vote in May, and there are some in the NAACP that fear York County (in South Carolina) receiving revenue -- they don't want York to participate in any DNC events.

    Rock concert venues . . . sad. The greenies who fail to appreciate the history of state (and county) fairs are the ones who would love fairgrounds race tracks to disappear.

    How prophetic was Chad Everett 40 years ago?

    ReplyDelete