June 28, 2014

This week in TV Guide: June 26, 1965

Back when I first started my TV Guide collection, it wasn't to provide sociological analysis of '60s television and how it reflected American culture and vice versa.  Northing that deep or pretentious.  It was simply because I liked paging through them, finding shows I remembered, shows I was sorry I didn't remember, and shows that I thought never should have made it to the air.  It was a miniature time capsule for me, a chance to relive some days and experience others for the first time, and it remains a simple pleasure to do so.

Since we're in the midst of the summer rerun season and there isn't a lot of depth in these issues, I thought I'd go back to those former days and just see what jumps off the page of this issue.  Maybe there's some good stuff in here, maybe not.  Let's see.

***

Here's something you wouldn't see on network TV nowadays.  At 8:45 am CT on ABC, it's the Irish Sweeps Derby horse race, live via Early Bird satellite from Dublin, with Jim McKay and Irish sports announcer Michael O'Hehir providing the call.  It wasn't that unusual for ABC, in particular, to provide Saturday morning sports coverage from overseas, as they did during Ford Motor's campaign to win the 24 Hours of LeMans.  The Early Bird, which was quite famous at the time, had only been up since April and live television coverage from Europe and Asia was a novelty at the time, leading me to suspect ABC covered the Derby not just because it was a big race, but simply because they could.  Lending credence to this theory is a mention in "For the Record" that Comsat is set to start collecting fees for the use of the Early Bird, ending the free run that had existed prior to then.

Here are highlights of the race, by the way, which was won by Meadow Court, partly owned by Bing Crosby.  I'm surprised a tape of the race wasn't found in his basement.


***

No Sullivan vs. The Palace this week, as Palace is preempted by the Coaches All-America college football game, live from Buffalo, New York.  This was one of the more unusual post-season all-star games, coming as it did more than five months after the end of the college football season.  For a football fan like me it was a real treat, a much-needed antidote to the endless stream of baseball throughout the summer*, and a signal that football season was just around the corner.  It was sort of a companion to July's College All-Star game, which pitted the NFL champions against an all-star team of seniors.  And besides, Chris Schenkel and Bud Wilkinson usually announced it, which meant it had to be a big game, right?

*This was long before I'd come to appreciate the subtleties and nuances of baseball, which in turn was long before the drug scandals and increasingly slow pace of the game drove me away again.

It's no surprise that all-star games like these don't exist anymore.  For one thing, the NFL would never permit their expensive new rookies to endanger themselves playing in meaningless college exhibition games when they could be playing in meaningless pro exhibition games.  And the whole all-star experience has waned across all leagues, given that the proliferation of televised sports has made household names out of almost everyone - it used to be, for example, that people who lived in American League cities only got to see National League players at the All Star Game, or on the occasional Game of the Week telecast.

Games like this may not be missed, but they're still missed, if you know what I mean.

***

I mentioned the single-season series The Rogues a couple of weeks ago.  It's on KCMT, Channel 7, at 10:30 Sunday night, rather than it's normal 9:00 Sunday timeslot.  Channel 7, an NBC affiliate that also carried various ABC shows, broadcast the previous day's Lawrence Welk at 9:00 instead.  Some people thought the failure of The Rogues, a clever and humorous show that starred Gig Young, David Niven and Charles Boyer, was because the show was too sophisticated for viewers.  In Channel 7's case, I can believe it.

Anyway, this week's episode is entitled "The Boston Money Party," and features Young's character (the three stars rotated turns as leads) "posing as the owner of a New England textile plant, to trap Paul Mannix, the 'wolf' of Wall Street."  An unscrupulous one, no doubt, as the rogues seldom scammed someone who didn't deserve it.  An attraction of this episode: it was written by William Link and Richard Levenson, the creators of Columbo and countless other clever shows.  Since I've talked about this show twice now, it's only fair I give you a glimpse of it to demonstrate why it's worth your while.  So here's the very episode we're talking about, "The Boston Money Party."


By the way, you'll (hopefully) remember that last week I brought up the practice in TV Guide of often crediting the writer of a particular episode, and you can see that in spades Sunday night.  Besides the mention of Levenson and Link, we also find out that this week's episode of Bonanza, "The Flapjack Contest," was written by Frank Cleaver, and that host Rod Serling penned this week's Twilight Zone, "The Bard."  Later in the week, we'll see that The Alfred Hitchcock Hour's "The Return of Verge Likens" (which was actually on MeTV a few weeks ago) was written by James Bridges, and the Kraft Suspense Theatre presentation of "Connery's Hands" was written by William Wood.  I still think it's a nice idea.

***

My mother watched soap operas when I was a kid, as I suspect did many mothers of many sons and daughters.  I'm fairly well-acquainted with many of them, but here's one that doesn't ring a bell - it's ABC's A Time For Us, a spin-off of the soap Flame in the Wind (which I hadn't heard of either), which has its debut this Monday.  It was only on for two years, if you count the two shows as one (as does the always-reliable Wikipedia), so I guess I'm not all that surprised.

Still, it's interesting - soap operas engendered such a passionate following among their loyal viewers, it's always interesting to run across the ones that didn't really catch on.  Still, if you're curious, here's an extended clip from an episode, sponsored by Dristan nasal mist, and Sleep-Eze, for a good night's sleep.


Speaking of soaps, here's the listing for Thursday's episode of General Hospital: "Steve hires a new staff member."  How could they stand the suspense?

***

Wait just a minute, you say!  You just said there wasn't any Sullivan vs. The Palace this week!  Well, that's what you get for believing everything I write.

Actually, we're cheating a little here, since the Hollywood Palace episode we've got is last week's, as it appears on WKBT, Channel 8 in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, a CBS affiliate who also dabbles in that wacky cross-affiliate programming.  They air Palace on Tuesday night at 10:30, right after your late edition of the local news, but we don't care, do we?

Sullivan:  TVG doesn't call this a rerun, but it doesn't say it's live either.  At any rate, Ed's guests this week are Tony Bennett; puppet Topo Gigio; rock 'n' rollers Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas; comic Jackie Vernon; the singing Kim Sisters; magician Johnny Hart; the two Carmenas, acrobats*; and Africa's Djolimba song and drum ensemble.

*My wife, upon hearing this lineup, suggested that the two Carmenas would be followed by the two Buranas.  If you don't get it, look it up.

Palace:  Host David Janssen introduces vocalists Edie Adams and Vic Damone; comedians Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks; Les Surfs, a singing group from Madagascar; the Harlem Globetrotters; Tim Conway; the knife-throwing Zeros*; and the Princess Tajana trapeze act.

*Let's hope that refers to the number of errant throws they make.

I'd say that one Edie Adams and one Vic Damone equal one Tony Bennett, and Jackie Vernon and Tim Conway probably offset themselves, as to the the acrobats and the knife throwers.  But the reason the Palace wins this week is the supporting cast: Reiner and Brooks, who may not do their "2000 Year Old Man" routine but do have a very funny bit on filing income taxes, the 'Trotters, who were very funny in those days, and Janssen, who's probably not that at ease in a hosting role, especially when his team of "Hollywood Dribblers" take on the Globetrotters.  But why speculate on it?  Here, watch the show for yourself:


***

Fred Astaire had essentially retired from Hollywood a few years ago, limiting his appearances to rare (and critically acclaimed) variety specials, but he and his current partner Barrie Chase are back this week in a comedy on NBC's Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre called "Think Pretty."  "Record company owners Fred Addams* [played by you-know-who] wants to win over female talent manager Tony Franklin - he's trying to sign one of her clients to a recording contract."  Fred and Barrie do a few dances, and Fred sings the title song.

*I wonder - since this was up directly against ABC's The Addams Family, did they perhaps spell Fred's character's last name that way on purpose?

And yes, here's a clip of one of their dances.  You knew that was coming, didn't you?


***

Saturday night at 8pm, CBS carries Secret Agent, which in England (and on DVD) is known by its original name Danger Man*.  I've written in the past about this show, the precursor to Patrick McGoohan's magnificent The Prisoner, which had a pretty successful run of its own.  I wouldn't have noticed this series back in 1965 - particularly this week, I would have been watching the football game - but you can bet I notice it now.

*Admit it though, Johnny Rivers singing Secret Agent is way cooler than the theme that was used under the title Danger Man.

This week's episode, "Whatever Happened to George Foster?", doesn't play into the Prisoner theme in the way that some other episodes do, but it's a strong one in its own right.  And speaking of familiar faces in unfamiliar roles, isn't that Bernard Lee playing the heavy?  You know, "M" - as in the James Bond movies? Glad he finally turned away from his life of crime.


***

Hawaii Five-0 isn't on yet, but we still have a double-dose of Jack Lord this week.  First, on a Dr. Kildare rerun (written by Harold Gast), Lord plays a doctor who fears rheumatoid arthritis may end his surgical career, just as it once ended his professional football career.  I'll bet we get Jack in full-on bitter mode here.  Question for any of you doctors out there, though: if his character had rheumatoid arthritis as a young man, bad enough that it stopped him from playing football, how was he ever able to become a surgeon in the first place?  I'm no doctor, I'm just wondering.

Later that week, Jack's back in an episode of his very good modern-day cowboy series Stoney Burke, which runs as a syndicated rerun at 10:15pm on Duluth's KDAL.  In this episode, a rodeo colleague of Stoney's is killed while riding a Brahma bull.  How does Stoney figure into it?  Let's find out:


***

And that note on The Doctors and the Nurses  Well, in a TV Guide article earlier in June, the humorist Art Buchwald wrote about how the show could have survived being on opposite ABC's new hit series The Fugitive.  His suggestion, as you can see here, was that a man would be brought to the Doctors/Nurses emergency room, "and as one of the doctors took the sheet off him, the audience would discover he had one arm.  Just before he dies on the operating table he would gasp, "I am the one-armed man the Fugitive is looking for.  Richard Kimble is innocent and I killed his wife."

As it turns out, a very funny letter to the editor from Arthur Joel Katz, former producer of The Doctors and the Nurses, suggests (likely tongue-in-cheek)  that he proposed just such an idea.  "A one-armed man comes into the hospital, confesses to Zina [Bethune, one of the nurses] that he killed David Janssen's wife, and dies.  The policy broadcast the news, but Janssen suspects a trap and doesn't believe it.  Thereafter, Zina sets out in search of David, but at every town she gets off the back of the bus just as David gets on the front.  The only trouble with this story is that I couldn't sell it to the writers.  Thus The Fugitive continues his adventures in oblivion, while we just fade into it."

The Doctors and the Nurses was originally just called The Nurses when it debuted in 1962, before doctors were brought into the mix to increase the dramatic possibilities, and the show's name was changed accordingly. Here's a look at the original version:


***

Well, how did we do this week?  I confess that when I started out, I had no intention of providing videos of almost every show I mentioned, but it just turned out this way.  Twenty years ago, or even ten, something like this - offering such a substantial amount of programming from a single TV Guide that was nearly fifty years old - would have been unthinkable.  And I suspect this only scratches the surface; how many other episodes that didn't catch my eye - like Wednesday's episode of CBS' Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, "Lucy Makes Room For Danny" - reside somewhere on YouTube or another streaming service?


As I say, this is just a wonder.  Who could possibly have imagined it was possible?  Certainly, when I picked up this issue to work on, I had no idea.  We'll have to try it again sometime, don't you think?

4 comments:

  1. It's possible that Ed Sullivan taped his show in advance to give himself and his show's production team some time off.

    In late August, a couple of episodes (including one with the Beatles) were taped in advance to air in September, then the show relocated to Television City in Hollywood for a few weeks in order so that the Ed Sullivan Theatre could be converted to color (the studio in Hollywood where Ed temporarily originated from in September and early October of 1965 had already been converted to color).

    By mid-October, Ed was back in New York with a theatre filled with brand-new color gear.

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    1. Excellent detail - I love that kind of thing!

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  2. The brief theme (the few harpsichord notes) at the very beginning of the "Danger Man" episode was also used in the U.S. broadcasts of "Secret Agent" right after the opening credits and Johnny Rivers' theme music.

    The harpsichord notes were background as the CBS voice-over announced said "'Secret Agent'...Brought to you by (name of product)".

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    1. As much as I prefer the title "Danger Man," I have to admit that that Rivers singing "Secret Agent Man" was just perfect for that show - especially the line "They've given you a number and taken away your name," which leads in so perfectly to "The Prisoner."

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