In the meantime, there's plenty of other stuff to keep us amused. For example, Melvin Durslag has a story on how NFL players look at Monday Night Football as an opportunity to show off their skills to players in the rest of the league, who are presumably at home watching the game on TV. Jane Hall writes about CBS' Bicentennial Minutes series, a two-year long lead-up to the Bicentennial, in which a star presents a one-minute factoid on some aspect of American history.
|SOURCE ALL: HADLEY TV GUIDES|
If you're a sports fan, this is a terrific time of the year, with baseball's pennant races rounding into form and college and pro football kicking off.
On the baseball front, not much to report. NBC's Saturday Game of the Week will be covering the game most important to the standings. Their choices are the Yankees vs. Detroit, Pittsburgh vs. Montreal or Boston vs. Milwaukee. A quick glance at how the 1974 season ended suggests the Pirates-Expos game would have been the best bet. Airing opposite baseball is ABC's college football, in this case a matchup between Stanford and Penn State. Of the two, Penn State will have the more successful season; they begin ranked #8 in the country, defeat Stanford in this game 24-20, and finish with a record of 10-2, good enough for a #7 final ranking. Stanford is ranked #20 to start the season, but their narrow loss to Penn State is followed by a walloping against Illinois, and they wind up 5-4-2, out of the running for a post-season spot. On Sunday, the NFL season begins with regional grudge matches; Cleveland vs. Cincinnati at noon (CT) on NBC, and Minnesota vs. Green Bay at 1pm on CBS.
The Oakland Raiders were always famed for their unparalleled record on Monday Night Football; for many years that record included but one loss, and the loss comes this week as they take on O.J. Simpson and the Bills in Buffalo. I remember this game well, but not because I'd seen it; living in the World's Worst Town™, we didn't get the Monday night game, so I had to listen to it on CBS radio.* In a terrific matchup, the Bills emerge with a 21-20 victory, headed for one of their most successful seasons in years.
*Which was actually a pretty pleasant experience; for years, dedicated fans would turn down the sound on television, thus avoiding the ABC crew of Frank Gifford, Don Meredith and Howard Cosell while enjoying the CBS radio crew's call.
It's Disaster Week on the movie schedule, both in terms of subject matter and quality.
On Tuesday, up against The Sex Symbol, NBC has Terror on the 40th Floor, which sounds like a ripoff of The Towering Inferno (secret party on top floor of office building, fire breaks out) except Inferno hasn't been released yet; it's still in production and Terror is an obvious attempt to get a jump on it with a quickie ripoff. One thing they get right is the casting; with John Forsythe, Joseph Campanella and Don Meredith heading the lineup, it's the same collection of just-below-the-top-level names that big screen disaster flicks depend on.
CBS counters with a pair of disaster movies that deal with eco-disasters. First, from the "nature run wild!" school, the Tuesday late movie has Frogs, with Ray Milland, Sam Elliot and Joan Van Ark trying to survive an invasion of killer frogs. Then, on Friday, it's Bruce Davison starring in Willard, the story of a young man with a trained pack of attack rats. Grim movies all around, don't you think?
There are a couple of movies that redeem the week, though - the network premieres of Klute (NBC, Saturday) and Fiddler on the Roof (ABC, Sunday). Klute features Jane Fonda in her first Oscar-winning role, co-starring with Donald Sutherland in a movie that Judith Crist says "doesn't dodge issues or the intelligence of its audience." As for Fiddler, starring Topol, Crist calls it a "universal story of tradition of man and God" that, by its commitment to film, is "ours to enjoy again and again."
I've remarked before about the stupidity of the Prime Time Access Rule, which was supposed to result in more local public affairs programming, but instead gave us strip series mostly consisting of syndicated game shows and Hollywood gossip programs. There was a time, though, when this wasn't always the case.
On KSTP, Channel 5, the syndicated block was broken up on Monday night by The Bud Grant Show, a half-hour with Vikings head coach Bud Grant and the station's sports director, Tom Ryther reviewing Sunday's action. On Thursday and Friday nights it was Bowling For Dollars, again hosted by Ryther. It was, perhaps, something best described as a franchise program, but at least it was locally produced. Even KMSP, Channel 9, the king of strip game shows, had a Vikings football preview show on Friday nights.
The other point about all this is that the five-night-a-week strip programming had yet to take over the 6:30pm time slot. Even on the nights when local shows weren't on, the rest of the nights of the week generally featured different shows. Nice to have a little variety, anyway.
Finally, NBC's advertising campaign for the fall season is "Turn On the Network of the New!" One reason a network might have an abundance of new programming, of course, is because they've cancelled so many of their old shows. And this season will be no exception: Born Free, The Smothers Brothers Show, Amy Prentiss, The Bob Crane Show, Sierra, Lucas Tanner, Sunshine. But then, there were a couple of shows here and there that managed to make something of themselves. Little House on the Prairie, which experts had ranked as a 5 (out of 25) in terms of likelihood of success, survived for nine seasons and made Michael Landon a star in his own right. Chico and the Man rated a 4, but parlayed that into four seasons and catapulted Freddie Prinze into ill-fated stardom of his own. Police Woman provided arresting drama for Angie Dickinson fans, and The Rockford Files, which nobody wrote about, lasted for six seasons and became one of James Garner's most loved series. So although there were more misses than hits, the New! NBC didn't do too badly after all, did it?