However, things reached a new high (or low) earlier in the year when CBS' The Edge of Night decided to kill off D.A. Mike Karr's faithful wife Sarah, by having her hit by a car while saving her small daughter from being run over. Although it was actress Teal Ames' choice to leave the show in order to pursue work on Broadway, that didn't stop the show's devoted fans - over seven million each day, mostly housewives - from letting the network and the show's sponsors know how they felt about it.
CBS received 2,500 letters the the first week, and the mail was still pouring in as this article was written. A "disillusioned" viewer from Columbus, Ohio wrote that she was finished with Edge, and with CBS. "I had baked a Pet-Ritz cherry pie, but I could hardly eat it last night for supper after that terrible episode. No more Pet products for me." Meanwhile, a high school in Delco, North Carolina said that "Shakespeare himself did not create a more convincing cast of praiseworthy personalities," and wondered "what perversion of common decency prompted anyone to shatter such a team?" One writer suggested that "you have these sadistic writers locked up in a safe place."
Here's that complete episode, including the exciting conclusion that triggered so much angst in the faithful.
Making sure we give all three networks some coverage, The Masters begins on April 6, and CBS will be there next Saturday and Sunday with coverage of the final four holes. To prepare viewers on what to watch for, PGA champion Jay Hebert* (pronounced AAY-bear) profiles those holes, and warns golfers that "there are no let-up holes at Augusta." There was no let-up in the weather, either; rain forced the final round to be played on Monday, when Gary Player would win the first of his three green jackets, beating Arnold Palmer and amateur Charles Coe by one shot after Palmer double-bogeyed the final hole.
*Or, more likely, his ghostwriter.
Next, some scattered programming notes.
Saturday morning at 10am, Channel 11 presents a perfectly awful movie called Granny Get Your Gun which, believe it or not (and I'd rather not) was based on Erle Stanley Gardner's Perry Mason novel The Case of the Dangerous Dowager, only without Mason. It was said that Gardner wept when he saw it, which was one reason it was so hard to convince him to agree to a television series. Fortunately, he changed his mind.
Sunday night, CBS' G.E. Theater, hosted by Ronald Reagan, presents the iconic French movie The Red Balloon, the charming story of a balloon that takes on a life of it's own. This was unusual for G.E. Theater, but would not be unprecedented for CBS; three years later, perhaps inspired by this showing, The Twilight Zone would air the French short feature An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, which won the Best Short Subject award at the Oscars. But back to The Red Balloon for a minute, or actually 34 minutes, which is the running time of the movie. I wonder how much was edited from it to fit into G.E.'s half-hour timeslot?
It was shown in black-and-white on CBS, but was made in color, and here it is in its entirety, if you're interested:
Wednesday, Danger Man premieres on CBS, starring Patrick McGoohan as globe-trotting NATO agent John Drake. This half-hour show will eventually morph into a one-hour series, renamed (in the United States) Secret Agent Man* which McGoohan would quit after three seasons to begin a new series: The Prisoner. Now, die-hard fans of the series (like me) will argue endlessly as to whether or not John Drake is also The Prisoner's Number 6. McGoohan did not have contractual rights to the name "John Drake," which could explain why he always denied that Drake and Number 6 were one and the same. Personally, having watched all 86 episodes of Danger Man/Secret Agent Man through to the 17 episodes of The Prisoner, I think there are too many similarities between the two - in manner, forms of speech, and the like - for there to be any doubt. But that's just my opinion.
The teletype gives us some info on coming attractions, in this case two animated series, both among my favorites. First, Hanna-Barbara is auditioning voices for the six cats in the upcoming ABC series Top Cat. So far they've heard from Hack Oakie, Ken Murray, Stubby Kaye, Jesse White, Herschel Bernardi and the man who would, legendarily, eventually voice Top Cat himself, Arnold Stang.
There's also a note about CBS' upcoming Alvin and the Chipmunks, which would eventually air as The Alvin Show. Now, to emphasize, this is not the Alvin and the Chipmunks of the recent movies, the chipmunks with an attitude (left), nor the pseudo-children version of the 80s revival (center); we're talking about the originals (right):
I know, I know, I'm showing my age. Next think, I'll be telling kids to get off my lawn (one of the great things about condo life: no lawn). But the original chipmunks had attitude enough - ever hear Dave yell "Alllllllvinnnnn"? They weren't punks, they weren't the kind of kids you'd cross the street to avoid. They weren't kids at all - they were chipmunks. Oh well. Classic TV wouldn't be so distinctive were there not so much to contrast with contemporary life.
Sunday April 2, is Easter, and there's appropriate programming for the day. At 9am CBS presents Songs of Triumph from the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston, followed at 10am by a Protestant service live from Riverside Church in New York City, the former home of William Sloane Coffin.
Also at 10, NBC has a live broadcast of the Mass, back at Holy Cross in Boston, celebrated by Richard Cardinal Cushing. (Which leads me to believe the musical program was on tape - otherwise, you'd think one network would have carried them both.) The broadcast of the Cardinal's Mass is only scheduled for an hour, which seems awfully short for an Easter Mass - I surmise it may well have been a Low, rather than High, Mass. And locally, Channel 11 presents a live broadcast at 11 from the Episcopal Cathedral of St. Mark in downtown Minneapolis. (I've been in that church, which is architecturally stunning.)
And on that note, for those of you celebrating, have a happy Easter, and we'll see you in a few days.