*The first being HBO, whose owner, Time Warner (as the always-reliable Wikipedia reminds us), would eventually own TBS as well after its purchase of the Turner broadcast empire.
It's funny though; looking through the listings, there doesn't appear to be anything special about their shows. Star Trek, Perry Mason, Dragnet, Here's Lucy and Night Gallery are some of the familiar titles that appear during the week, and the movies that the station offers are good, watchable films, but not any more than those shown by 11 Alive, WXIA. The most notable, and most unique, programming from WTCG is Atlanta Braves baseball, with three games on this week, and it will be the station's coverage of the Braves over the years that will lead to Ted Turner's club being billed as America's Team. We don't even have "Turner Time" yet, the practice where all the network's programs were started at five minutes after the hour and half hour, rather than the traditional top and bottom. In other words, it's an absolutely conventional television station, with no clue of what it's to become.
|When Andy Messersmith played for the|
Braves, he insisted his nickname was
"Channel." Nice ad for the station, hm?
We often read about stars before they became stars, or see mention of a new series in development that goes on to become one of the all-time classics, but this may be the first time we've seen a network in its formative years, while it was still mostly a local station, before it hits the big time.
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Besides the Braves, we've got some other sports on hand, the biggest of which being Wimbledon. We're still a year away from NBC's live broadcast of the finals, but the network has dramatically expanded its Saturday coverage to 6½ hours, carrying both championship matches in their entirety, rather than via highlights as has been the case in the past. It all starts at noon (ET) with coverage of the women's final, taped Friday, and this must be the week for seeing the birth of future stars, as Martina Navratilova wins her very first Grand Slam championship, defeating Chris Evert in three tight sets. This is followed at 2:00 p.m. by the men's final, played earlier Saturday, in which two-time defending champion Bjorn Borg destroys former champion Jimmy Connors in straight sets.
Because of Wimbledon's control over the airwaves, the baseball Game of the Week is pushed all the way to 11:30 p.m., preempting Saturday Night Live - good thing it's a West Coast game between the Giants and Dodgers. Even at that, the game won't be starting until 8:30 their time. Since I lived in the World's Worst Town™ at the time, I doubt we even got it. Some schlock local movie, probably.
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|SOURCE: HADLEY TV GUIDE COLLECTION|
Like Mary Hartman (and the real-life shows it parodied), the two "2 Night" shows were aired five nights a week, which means that despite the relatively short run (a total of about seven months), around 130 episodes were produced, thus accomplishing the "100 episode" gold standard. Question for the readership: do you think this program wound up being better-known than Mary Hartman?
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Fernwood 2 Night debuts on Monday, which coincidentally is the Fourth of July. This year's Fourth has a hard act to follow, coming as it does one year after the Bicentennial Fourth, a day which dominated the entire television schedule on all networks. In fact, it's such an impossible task that CBS doesn't really even try, making Our Happiest Birthday (8:00 p.m.), an hour-long retrospective of last year's celebrations, the centerpiece of this year's programming. In turn, the centerpiece of the retrospective is the look back at the tall ships from around the world that sailed down the Hudson River before a crowd of over five million people. Walter Cronkite hosts the show, which includes highlights of other festivities from last year, including the Boston Pops concert* that drew a million people to the Esplanade, along the banks of the Charles River.
*Fun fact: Although it seems like a tradition that has been around forever, it was only two years before that Bicentennial concert - in 1974 - that Pops conductor Arthur Fiedler introduced the practice of playing a piece that included bells, fireworks and cannons blasting, something he envisioned as "All hell [breaking] loose." That was, of course, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, which up to that time had never been associated with the Fourth, and since then has become a staple of the day.
Following Our Happiest Birthday, CBS gives us something new - a two-hour, star-studded "musical history of America" entitled They Said It With Music. The music spans the Revolution to Ragtime, and includes over 80 songs that range "from spirituals to marches, and touch on the Civil War, civil rights, sports and dance." Bernadette Peters, Tony Randall, Jason Robards, Jean Stapleton and Flip Wilson are the headliners.
One of the things I love about the occasional TV Guide from another market is the look at what's unique about that area, and while the Fourth of July is in many ways a prototypical small-town celebration, Atlanta does it up big with the "Salute to America"* parade up Peachtree Road, televised by WSB starting at 1:00 p.m. (with a pre-parade show Sunday at 6:30 p.m.). This year's parade features a host of Atlanta celebrities, from political figures such as Governor George Busbee and U.S. Senators Sam Nunn and Herman Talmadge, to sports icons Henry Aaron, Phil Niekro and Boom Boom Geoffrion, to show biz stars Pernell Roberts, Brenda Lee and Robert Vaughn. The parade apparently doesn't exist any more, but Atlanta still knows how to celebrate the day.
*Or the "Salute 2 America," since WSB - Channel 2 - televises the parade.
There's also a concert of all-American music on Sunday night courtesy of PBS, with Leonard Bernstein at the helm of his old band, the New York Philharmonic. In one of those nice touches that only television can give us, the concert was taped in London. Go figure.
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Just over five years after the break-in at the Watergate and three years after the resignation of President Nixon, the political scandal is still a large part of the American consciousness. It is, after all, the reason why we had a President Ford, why we have a President Carter, and why we will have a President Reagan. And, writes Kevin Phillips, it remains a mystery.
Phillips, the conservative-leading pollster and pundit who is credited with successfully predicting and systematizing the "Southern Strategy" that has been the backbone of the Republican party since the mid '60s, is presently one of the rotating authors* of TV Guide's "News Watch" column that opens the national section of the magazine. Phillips has been considering what we know about it all, and what we don't know
*A group which included Patrick Buchanan and John Roche.
I have to admit I've never been captivated by Watergate - for one thing, I remember it happening, so there's not much nostalgia value. It also took down a president, Nixon, whom I admired; my thought at the time was that it was overblown, and I haven't changed my mind in the meantime. Mostly, though, it's been long enough since it happened that we've gotten the answers to most of the questions asked over the years - we know who Deep Throat was, for example - which makes many articles of the time either outdated or barking up the wrong tree. In Phillips' case, his theory is an interesting one: that the burglars were after information that Howard Hughes had helped fund CIA assassination plots against Fidel Castro in Cuba*, and that James McCord, one of the burglars, was actually a CIA mole planted in the group to help ensure their arrest.
*For one thing, the only two phones bugged in Democratic headquarters belonged to party chair Larry O'Brien and functionary Spencer Oliver, both of whom had ties to Hughes.
As I pointed out last week, it has been impossible to escape the politicization of television, along with everything else, that has increased steadily over time. The thrust of Phillips' article is that one of the networks would be well-advised to investigate and report on this theory; articles by Buchanan and others would point out possible media bias or conflicts of interest. At least there was something civilized about these articles; today we don't even have that.
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As it turns out, the originals - Shatner, Nimoy, Kelley and the rest - do return. It's the show that doesn't come back, at least not for another nine years. Somewhere along the line, probably after the boffo box office from Star Wars, Paramount makes the decision to pour the money into a big-screen version of Star Trek, which launches an ongoing series of successful, highly profitable movies. Star Trek will return to the small screen, though, in the form of The Next Generation, with its own cast and following, and its own series of movies. I guess it just proves you can't keep a good starship down.