September 19, 2015

This week in TV Guide: September 17, 1966

As the week opens, opening week of the Fall Season premiere is coming to an end, and the face of the season is starting to take shape.


There's something exciting reading about the first episode of a series that goes on to become something of a cultural touchstone, as opposed to the majority of new shows that sink to the bottom without a trace.  Such is the case on Saturday night on CBS, where we get to see examples of both.  At 7:30pm CT it's Pistols 'n' Petticoats, a Western sitcom starring Ann Sheridan* that lasted for 26 episodes before the ax fell.  

*Sheridan appeared in 21 of the 26 episodes before dying of cancer in January 1967.  The show was cancelled in March

Following that, at 8:00pm, is the inaugural episode of Mission: Impossible.  The M:I team would continue for seven seasons and 171 episodes, not including a brief revival and a series of theatrical features that bear little resemblance to the series.  In fact, of the stars appearing on that first episode, only two of them - Greg Morris and Peter Lupus - would remain with the series for its entire run; Steven Hill would depart after one season, and Martin Landeau and Barbara Bain would last for the first three.  It's the second- and third-season cast, in which Peter Graves replaces Hill, that I think represents the golden age of the show, but as you all know, it remains one of my favorites.

This issue is filled with advertisements for the season's new shows, some of them - like Mission: Impossible - destined for success, others for oblivion.  For example, on Monday night NBC's lineup includes shows that succeeded - The Monkees - and those that didn't - The Road West and The Roger Miller Show.  Of course, it helps that there were also a couple of returning success stories in that lineup: I Dream of Jeannie (now in color!) and Run For Your Life.  CBS' entry, Run, Buddy, Run ran out of steam and didn't make it beyond 16 weeks; ABC's lineup was perhaps the most stable, with The Rat PatrolThe Iron Horse and Felony Squad* all surviving to second seasons.

*One of the co-stars on Felony Squad was Ben Alexander, who formerly played Officer Frank Smith on Dragnet.  This gig kept Alexander from rejoining Jack Webb on the Dragnet revival, mentioned below.

Tuesday's NBC lineup has to be considered something of a disappointment: The Girl From U.N.C.L.E., which failed to capitalize on the success of its parent show, and Occasional Wife, which the viewers apparently found only occasionally funny.  ABC's* The Rounders and The Pruitts of Southampton also disappeared without a trace.

*ABC's ads featured faux quotes from stars of other ABC series.  Ha ha.

I hope ABC didn't pay in advance for their ads touting The Tammy Grimes Show - it was sacked after a mere four episodes, replaced by a prime-time version of The Dating Game.  On the other hand, That Girl, its Thursday night partner, does pretty well.  NBC's Thursday night lineup has an existing hit - Daniel Boone, - a new legend in the making - Star Trek, a bomb which will be replaced by a hit - The Hero, soon to make way for the revival of Dragnet - and another hit, The Dean Martin Show.

ABC pushes Milton Berle's Friday night variety show, already in the process of being slaughtered by NBC's The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and CBS' Hogan's Heroes.  The Green Hornet didn't do much better, but The Time Tunnel remains a much-loved cult series, running for a couple of seasonseven though it only ran for one season.  In turn, NBC's Friday night ad - "The Blockbusters!" publicizes Tarzan and T.H.E. Cat*, two series that run for only a single season ran for two seasons and one season, respectively. 

*In fairness, many people consider T.H.E. Cat, with Robert Loggia, to be a superior series, the victim of bad scheduling.  Having seen a few episodes of the show, I'm inclined to agree. 


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: Scheduled guests include Red Buttons; Herman's Hermits, rock 'n' rollers; singer Nancy Ames; Renata Tebaldi and Franco Corelli of the Metropolitan Opera; the Muppets puppets; and highlights of the Polynesian Festival, featuring 167 nations from the South Pacific Islands.

Palace: Host Bing Crosby opens the show's fourth season with comedians Sid Caesar and George Burns; soprano Jane Marsh; the Mamas and the Papas, folk-rock group; singer-dancer Lola Falana; French comic-magician Mac Ronay; and the Rhodians, aerialists.

After a few weeks of so-so matchups, this is more like it!  Both shows pull out all the stops as the new season gets underway, and they're pretty evenly matched.  Ed features two of the world's most famous opera stars in Tebaldi and Corelli, but Palace counters with Jane Marsh, who will become a very well-known star herself.  Legendary comedians: Ed has Red Buttons, but Palace has Caesar and Burns.  Sullivan's soloist is Nancy Ames, but Palace far outdoes her with Bing as host and star.  Both have '60s rock groups, and here is where the difference lies.  I've always had a soft spot for Herman's Hermits, perhaps because Peter Noone seems to have been one of the few '60s stars to keep a clear enough mind that he could view the whole scene from a bemused distance.  On the other hand, I never could stand the Mamas and the Papas.  Didn't like 'em then, don't like 'em to this day.  I know they were on Ed's show as well, but not this week, and because of that Sullivan takes the season opening prize.


It's football season, of course, which means a raft of big weekend games.  It kicks off north of the border at 12:30 (CT) Saturday, as KDFX, Channel 3 in Wichita Falls, TX presents the Canadian Football League game of the week - Edmonton at Montreal, taped September 9.*  At 2:00, ABC's college football features USC vs. Texas from Austin (an off-year for the Longhorns, who are beaten by the Trojans 10-6).

*Fun fact: the play-by-play is by Don Dunphy, better known as the greatest boxing announcer in history.

Sunday's pro action kicks off with an 11am start for NBC's AFL coverage, with the Houston Oilers taking on Joe Namath and the New York Jets (joined in progress at noon on KDFX and KXII, which presented church services at 11).  As far as the NFL, the Cowboys are at home this week, which means their game is blacked out in Dallas; KRLD instead carries the game between the Baltimore Colts and Minnesota Vikings.  The Cowboys game, against the New York Giants, can be seen on KAUZ in Wichita Falls.

And - that's it.  Only two games on Sunday, which hardly seems like anything at all today.  NBC follows its AFL game with Meet the Press (the guest is Filipino President Ferdinand Marcos), G-E College Bowl (Oklahoma vs. Drury College) and Frank McGee's Sunday news show, this week looking at the friction caused by a Federal Jobs Center in Camp Kilmer, NJ.  CBS has Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour (brought to you by Geritol!) and a special report on Vietnam.  ABC, which had no football on Sunday, leaves its affiliates to air movies.  Which once again proves that there is life beyond sports on Sunday.


Finally, there's a special insert in this week's issue, making it even larger than usual - the 1967 TV Set Buyers' Guide.  And the big news this year is the move to color!  It's expected to number nearly 20,000 sets a day by the end of the year.  But rather than writing about it, why don't I just show you some of the new models, being advertised as if they were new cars.

It's easy to see why color is the Next Big Thing: as sets become more affordable and the networks convert almost all of their shows to color, people will be flocking to replace perfectly good black-and-white sets to the new consoles and portables.  And if you live north of the border, good news: color television will be coming to Canada next year!

Notice that DuMont, which ceased to be a television network a decade ago, is still a television manufacturer.  And that the TV-stereo combination is still very big.

Portable TVs are all the rage.

Speaking of which, the model appearing in these ads is none other than Joey Heatherton: singer, dancer, actress, daughter of the old Broadway star Ray Heatherton, with whom she'd occasionally appear on TV.  That "earring"she's wearing is one of the smallest portables, referred to here as a "transistor TV."  That must have been remarkable at the time (the TV, I mean), and yet take a look at your smartphone, which can do so much more than simply run videos - and the videos you do watch are in high-definition.

You're welcome.


  1. "The Time Tunnel" only ran one season, but I think it does have a cult following. I've never seen it myself, other than the opening credits. "Tarzan", on the other hand, ran 2 seasons, not 1. I do think I saw part of a rerun of that show on a Boston tv station while visiting my grandparents.

    1. Yes - I think I confused two seasons with two DVD volumes. No slight intended; I actually enjoyed Time Tunnel a great deal when it was on, particularly the Titanic episode - even if Michael Rennie looked nothing like Captain Smith!

  2. Jon H.:

    The entire "Time Tunnel" series is available on DVD.

  3. "Tarzan" ran for 2 full seasons. 57 episodes in all. Please fix.

    1. Done - though I can't understand how it lasted more than 13 weeks. And I say that liking Ron Ely! On the other hand, I can readily understand how Sheena succeeded...

  4. Treating TV sets like cars is appropriate, since many of the TV sets of the time were as big as cars. The first time I ever saw color TV was about this time in 1966, after my grandparents got one. The pictures were a little sketchy. Most of what I remember is either pink or green.

    FWIW, I'm curious about the reason for your dislike of the Mamas and Papas. The Hermits seemed to me to plow the same cute, poppy furrow over and over, and their stuff sounds terribly dated now. The Mamas and Papas, meanwhile, performed in multiple styles and sang some lovely songs that still sound fresh now.

    But at the same time, I understand just not liking certain acts for no specific reason. I've got my own list of those.

    1. Good question - I think what I like about Herman's Hermits is not the music per se, but Peter Noone himself, particularly as he looks back on what happened then. I alluded to it in the post, but more specifically he seems to have been one of the few from that era who wasn't stoned, drunk or debauching himself, and looks back at it all with a kind of bemused detachment.

      Just never much cared for the Mamas and the Papas, either personally or creatively; more of a Stones/Zeppelin fan, although I love the Moody Blues, and in truth I probably listened to Beethoven more than anyone back then.

      You're right, though - ultimately, it comes down to a matter of personal taste, which rarely comes down to a matter of right and wrong. It's more fun to just debate it!

  5. Tarzan also made the top 30 this season. It is amazing in retrospect, but Tarzan's first season popularity (it was # 27 out of 113 shows) had The Wild Wild West on the bubble for cancellation; the Robert Conrad show slipped all the way to # 53 in the season ending ratings (Televison Magazine, Volume 24, Number 8). But The Wild, Wild West rebounded in 1967-68 and knocked out Tarzan, which slipped badly in its sophomore season.

    1. You're right, Hal. As I mentioned above, I can't imagine how it lasted more than 13 weeks! I was never a Tarzan fan as a kid - not just the series, but the movies, the stories - never got into that kind of adventure. When I was that age, I dreamt more about being President than being an adventure hero or a cowboy star. I'm sure that kind of misspent youth explains a lot!


Thanks for writing! Drive safely!