What awaits you this week is a hybrid that's strange, even for me. It's based on the original write-up I did back in the early days of the blog, augmented by brand new material made up of some of the features I've added over time (Sullivan vs. The Palace, Amory's Review). It's not perfect, I'll be the first to admit, but it's better than nothing - about 50% new. The good news: next week I should have far more time to spend on TV Guide. The bad news: I don't have a new issue waiting for me. How will this drama play out? Tune in next week and find out.
Zimbalist's portrayal had on countless young viewers who, because of the series, were motivated to join the FBI.
The focal point of this week's profile, authored by Arthur Hano, is Zimbalist's sidekick, William Reynolds. The FBI is the fourth series Reynolds has worked on in the last eight years, and the first in which he will appear for more than one season. When the call came from his agent telling him he'd snagged the role of FBI special agent Tom Colby, he was either out playing golf (his version) or trying to sell real estate (his wife's version). Either way, it is a life preserver for a man who had waited three years for the big call. He will wind up putting in six years as Colby, but in 1968, he remains uncertain enough that he doesn't let the success of The FBI go to his head, still driving the same used Cadillac that he has nursed for over 50,000 miles. Such is the life of a second banana, he says; "You've got to stay cool. Otherwise you get eaten alive."
During the 60s, the Ed Sullivan Show and The Hollywood Palace were the premiere variety shows on television. Whenever they appear in TV Guide together, we'll match them up and see who has the best lineup..
Sullivan: Ed's scheduled guests are Jane Powell; George Chakiris; singers Bobby Gentry and Franco Corelli; comics Rodney Dangerfield and Will Jordan; pianist Paul Mauriat; and the Muppets.
Palace: Host Jimmy Durante welcomes Van Johnson singers Jimmy Dean and Vikki Carr, comedian Pat Henry, the rocking Temptations, comic magician Mac Ronay, and strongman Franklin D'Amore and the Bodyguards.
An interesting pair of lineups this week. They both start out strong, but whereas Ed's guest list finishes up with Paul Mauriat (performing his smash hit "Love is Blue") and the Muppets, the Palace can only counter with a comic magician and a strongman group. As soccer experts will tell you, a deep bench is what wins championships, and on that basis Sullivan takes the match.
Here's Paul Mauriat in what may well be a clip from that Sullivan show:
Throughout the 60s and early 70s, TV Guide's reviews were written by the witty and acerbic Cleveland Amory. Whenever we get the chance, we'll look at Cleve's latest take on the series of the era.
When I was growing up, I thought Jonathan Winters was one of the funniest people I'd ever seen. Today, speaking from a mature perspective, I still think he's one of the funniest people. So does Cleveland Amory - "pound for pound, sound for sound" - and as only Amory can, he explains why now is the Winters of his discontent.
Amory is a big fan from way back, and for years he's griped about how networks don't seem to know how to handle a man of Winters' talent. His network specials were terrible, but this was actually good news - as Amory's Law says, "if you can't be good, be terrible. That way at least you attract a lot of attention." The problem is that Winters' new weekly series is good, very good - and, according to Amory's Law, it will probably go off the air.
What works with this new series, in Cleve's opinion, is that Winters has to do it all - not only perform, but host, introduce the guests, and so forth. In a strange way all that work works to Winters' benefit, providing just enough restraint for his manic talent to shine through. He cites an example which is so wonderfully convoluted that I have to repeat it in full just to give you a taste of it.
As Mad Dog Wretchen, [Winters] is in command of the Filthy Dozen, who are ordered to attack the Sieg Heil Hilton. "The Nazis are having a little banquet there," Mad Dog explains. "The usual thing, a little chamber music and then they kick the waiters to death. Now you all know your assignments?" Replies guest Fess Parker, "Roger. First Fats goes over the electrified fence. To do that, the twins distract the guard by cleaning chickens in the mine field. Then when the guards turn to look, I short-circuit the fence by riding a rubber cow into the wires. Next I put the Count into a pair of Sta-Prest rocket pants, ignite his zipper and blast him up into the 10th-story window, from which he drops a giant M-3 yoyo and we all ride to the top on the upstroke, just in time to serve the snake-infested sauerkraut and the booby-trapped bratwurst. Well, that's the plan, major. What do you think?" Replies Mad Dog: "Well, it's an old trick, but it just might work."
Sadly, Amory's Law seems to hold true; the Winters show: by 1969, it's gone. Jonathan Winters is never forgotten, though.
Across the top of this week's cover is a blurb for "The Most Outlandish Game Show Yet," which turns out to be ABC's Treasure Isle. Not only did the show take place outdoors, it was staged on a one-and-a-half acre man-made lagoon in Palm Beach. Probably the most interesting item we find out is that the show was financed and packaged for $800,000 by John D. MacArthur, who's probably better known as the founder of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, supporter of many public television programs over the years. MacArthur's brother was Charles MacArthur, playwright and co-author of The Front Page Charles MacArthur was married to the actress Helen Hayes, and her son James MacArthur played Danno on Hawaii Five-0. When your genealogy is more interesting than the television show you created, you know you're in trouble. But then, here's a sample episode; decide for yourselves.
|BOTH: HADLEY TV GUIDE COLLECTION|
And finally, the Letters to the Editor feature a moment of poetic magic from Sidney M. Major, Jr., of Independence, MO, lamenting the replacement on ABC's The Avengers of Diana Rigg with Linda Thorson.
Steed without Emma
Presents a dilemma
With which I, for one, cannot cope;
Without her assistance
Steed can't go the distance -
Please tell me there yet is some hope.
Sorry, Sid - them's the breaks. But you know the old saying about life giving you lemonade - and trust me, Linda Thorson is no lemon.