February 11, 2017

This week in TV Guide: February 12, 1966

I'll be honest with you here - not that I'm not always honest with you, of course. For the first time in the history of this blog, I've been forced to simply reprint a "This week in TV Guide" feature. Yes, I've done multiple reviews of a few issues, but this one is the same, word for word, as it was when it was originally printed five years ago. That's not to say it isn't good, just that it isn't new. The reason for this egregious offense is twofold: 1) I didn't have a new issue for this week, and 2) All the TV Guides are still packed in boxes, so I wasn't able to do a "Take Two" on this one, It is, however, notable in that it's the very first appearance of "This week in TV Guide" as a regular feature. I make no promises that I'll have tracked down this issue by Monday; if I haven't, you'll just have to put up with listings courtesy of the archives of the Chicago Tribune. It's still all good, though. 

One of the ways I justify my modest TV Guide collection is to cite it as "research," that is, to take what is in reality a relaxing diversion and turn it into a scholarly enterprise.  But of course there is something to it: as I've mentioned before, one can do far worse than use TV Guide to provide a snapshot of popular culture at any given time.  Since I started this blog, I've been intending to take an issue from my collection every week, and just open it at random: see what's inside, whether or not there was anything important going on, and whether or not something in it wound up being pretty special.  So let's take a look at this week in TV Guide from 46 years ago, the week of February 12, 1966.  And since TV Guide always started the week on a Saturday, we'll do the same.


On the cover are two of the stars of Peyton Place, Ryan O' Neal and Barbara Parkins.  O'Neal, of course, went on to have a pretty successful career, highlighted by his Oscar-nominated role in Love Story.  Parkins was big in the late 60s and early 70s, with her starring roles in PP and Valley of the Dolls.

Inside we have a profile of James Drury, star of The Virginian, by that up-and-coming young writer Peter Bogdanovich, five years before writing and directing The Last Picture Show.  There's also a teaser for an upcoming National Geographic* special, The World of Jacques Cousteau.  The TV critic Cleveland Amory reviews Batman.  ("The whole show, on first impression, may not be as great.  It is, after all, trying to be all things to all men.  Still, it is the season's most talked-about offering.")

*Apparently National Geographic wasn't extreme enough back in those days to be called "NatGeo."

There was a section in the front and back of TV Guide issues, printed on yellow paper, called "TV Teletype."  The front usually covered TV news from Hollywood, the back from New York.  The Teletype often referenced shows that were never made, underwent name and/or cast changes, or wound up in substantially different shape from original plans. The New York version carries a note on an upcoming pilot for a show called The Time Tunnel.  That show did made it, as did its two stars, James Darren and Robert Colbert.  There's also an announcement that Truman Capote's short story "A Christmas Memory" is going to appear on ABC next season - it did, and won an Emmy.  On the other hand, Hollywood reports on a pilot for Li'l Abner, featuring Robert Reed.  The show didn't make it, but Reed would be back two years later, in The Brady Bunch.*

*Reed was said to be the second choice for the show, after Gene Hackman turned it down.  Imagine it for a moment: Mike Brady hunting down the French Connection.  Kinda makes you pause, doesn't it?

Inside, in the program listings, there's not  a whole lot to talk about.  CBS Reports features "The Divorce Dilemma," wherein we learn of "one of the major social problems in the U.S." - the divorce rate having hit an unthinkable 25%.  It's a bit higher now.  Bob Hope has a comedy special on NBC, and CBS has "An Evening with Carol Channing."  There's also a teaser for next week's TV Guide, featuring a profile of Lee Majors.  "Seven years from now . . . I'll be getting an Academy Award nomination," Majors is quoted as saying.  Well, he didn't - but he did go on to a long and pretty successful career in television.*  The Rolling Stones and Wayne Newton appear with Ed Sullivan, and ABC's Hollywood Palace counters with Donald O'Connor and Paul Anka.  

*A bit of irony there, if you're looking for it.  Consecutive issues of TV Guide presenting us with Ryan O'Neal and Lee Majors, the future companion and husband (respectively) of Farrah Fawcett.  What, I wonder, are the odds?

There's really nothing that jumps off the page though, no hockey or basketball game that everyone talked about the next day, no show that went on to set a viewing record or introduced us to a new star or caused the controversy of the season.  In short, it was a perfectly ordinary week in television, the kind that gives one a snapshot of how things were, the week of February 12, 1966. TV  


  1. Thanks for the "re-run", Mitchell. It's always good to see how things started. Glad you are starting to get settled in the Northern clime...

  2. Sunday night's first-run Perry Mason is "The Case Of The Sausalito Sunrise" - which identifies itself in the opening as a remake of "The Case Of The Moth-Eaten Mink", the Mason pilot from ten years earlier.
    I spent tonight looking at both episodes, back-to-back.
    Most of the plot details are wildly different, as are the guest characters.
    Interestingly, though, the referenced items in the titles are the "McGuffins" in the episodes = what the characters are after.
    The whodunits resolve in more or less the same way, with the cop (Ray Collins as Tragg in '56, Richard Anderson as Drumm in '66) taking the lead at the finish.
    In its final season, Perry Mason "repurposed" a number of its earlier episodes in this fashion; I think I'll be looking at some of these down the line.

    1. The preceding comment was a lot longer, with a number of other features.
      Your Oedipusrexing comment box sprung the 4096 limit on me, even though I know good and well that I was nowhere near it.
      I'll try to put the other stuff up tomorrow - assuming that I'm less ticked off than I am right now ...

  3. I had forgotten about the teletype!

    Amusing to think of Robert Reed in a Lil' Abner setting!

    1. As it happens, I saw that Li'l Abner pilot; NBC aired it one summer during rerun burnoff season.
      Abner was played by Sammy Jackson, who'd starred in the TV version of No Time For Sergeants a few years before.
      Jeannine Riley left Petticoat Junction to take the part of Daisy Mae; like most of Hollywood, she was assured that Abner was a certainty for a pickup.
      Mammy and Pappy Yokum were Judy Canova and Jerry Lester, respectively.
      And Robert Reed? He was a city slicker called Henry Cabbage Cod, who made a play for Daisy Mae.
      Al Capp was credited with the script (a point in dispute lately); he was still a Democrat at this point.
      Bits and pieces of this pilot can be found at YouTube; not much else to say beyond that.

  4. It's not a 're-print'- it's an 'encore presentation.'

  5. As threatened - Part II:

    Peter Bogdanovich's Virginian story isn't a profile of James Drury.
    It's a week-on-the-set with quotes from everyone who was on the show at that point.
    And Bogdanovich was going for for Dwight Whitney's 'Snark Crown'.
    In order:
    Clu Gulager is a pretentious windbag.
    Doug McClure is an overgrown adolescent.
    Randy Boone's Southern accent is relentlessly mocked by Bogdanovich.
    Lee J. Cobb is a crotchety malcontent.
    James Drury is a Star-of-the-Show who won't talk unless it's all about him.
    And Norman Macdonnell, the producer, stoically suffers his shallow 'galaxy of stars - and yearns for his former post on Gunsmoke, where everybody was far more cooperative.
    As I recall, Bogdanovich didn't do too many more stories for TV Guide - he apparently felt the medium was beneath him.
    Recently, he had a recurring acting role on Law & Order: Criminal Intent, as a thinly-disguised take-off on Hugh Hefner (see under: revenge).

    I think I'm in the limit; I might add more later tonight ...

  6. I have no problem with repeats. I've done them at my place for years. I find readers tend to remember what we posted a lot less vividly than writers do. And there are always people just jumping on the site, too. So no worries.

  7. Might you be able to post a day's listings from that week's TV Guide, even if it includes The World's Worst Town(R)?

  8. Hope you'll enjoyed your stay in The World's Worst Town (R)! The Vikes and Twins got new stadiums and the Mary Richards landmarks is here (her old apartment is still here).


Thanks for writing! Drive safely!