If you want musical variety, there's plenty of it: Jackie Gleason and his Honeymooners cast act out nursery fables (Saturday, 6:30 p.m., CBS), while Lawrence Welk and his Champagne Music Makers celebrate Christmas with their families. (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., ABC) On Sunday morning, Christmas Eve (9:00 a.m.), CBS preempts Lamp Unto My Feet and Look Up and Live for an hour of Christmas music, hosted by Margaret Truman Daniels. Later on (11:30 a.m., CBS), Gospel singer Marian Williams has more tunes for the season. Local choirs appear on KSTP and KMSP, and on WTCN Carmon Dragon conducts the Glendale Symphony in a Christmas concert that looks suspiciously like the one that was broadcast on the same station in last week's issue.
You say you'd like sacred programming for Christmas? The French Nativity story "Christmas in the Marketplace" airs at noon Christmas Eve on some of the area's ABC affiliates (not KMSP, however), and at 6:00 p.m. the network reruns the acclaimed documentary "Christ is Born," narrated by John Huston and John Secondari and presented without commercial interruption. At 10:30 pm. on CBS, "Experiencing Great Joy" features Robert Ryan reading the Nativity, and opera star Roberta Peters singing a motet by Vivaldi. At the same time on ABC, it's the Christmas festival opera "The Shephardes Playe" by Pulitzer winner John LaMontaine. At 11:00 p.m. NBC covers Midnight Mass from St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City, while on CBS it's the poignant "Christmas in Vietnam," with films taken earlier today, including a Christmas Eve service, a trip to a Vietnamese orphanage, and interviews with soldiers and chaplains.
Christmas Day begins with the New York Pro Musica performing on Today (7:00 a.m.), singing traditional songs against a backdrop of works from the Cloisters, the medieval art museum. At 9:00 a.m., the network presents an ecumenical worship service from the National Cathedral in Washington D.C., a program I watched for years because of the lovely music. Fr. Patrick Peyton, the famed founder of the "Family Rosary Crusade," presents a series of three episodes dramatizing the life of Christ, beginning at 10:00 a.m. on WTCN. Jeanne Crain, Dolores Hope, and Jane Wyatt are the guests. Ray Coniff hosts an hour of music at 3:00 p.m. on WCCO, and the annual Christmas skating ice show from the Metropolitan Sports Center in Bloomington, Minnesota is shown on WTCN at 5:30 p.m.
And we couldn't very well have Christmas without Bing singing "White Christmas," could we? He does it several times tonight in the perennial favorite Holiday Inn (8:00 p.m., WTCN), as he and Fred Astaire battle over Marjorie Reynolds. Finally, the day comes to an end - in Duluth, at least - with the Christmas episode of The Rogues (10:30 p.m.), the charming caper series about a family of charming criminals (David Niven, Charles Boyer, Gig Young, and - in this episode - Larry Hagman). A pity this series only lasted for one season.
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 Arthur Godfrey, who reads a Christmas story illustrated by the Muppets puppets; Bobbie Gentry; Gilbert Price; the Cowsills; dancer-choreographer Peter Gennaro; and organist Virgil Fox.
Palace: Jimmy Durante is the ringmaster for the "Palace" circus show, with Anissa Jones of Family Affair, the Roselle Troupe acrobats, Kay's Pets animal act, high-wire artist Sensational Parker, Great Rudos and his performing elephans, trapeze performer Canday Cavaretta, and the Hannerford Family, clowns on horseback.
I suppose your preference this week is going to depend on how much you like circuses. For me they're OK but nothing special. I'd hoped for a little more Yule cheer from Ed, but aside from Godfrey and the Muppets, his show is average at best. Under other circumstances I'd rate the weeka push, but since Godfrey is reading a Christmas story with the Muppets, I'll spread a little Christmas cheer around and give the nod to Sullivan.
This week the American Football League (NBC) wraps up its regular season on Christmas Eve with a TBA depending on which game is most important to the title race. The AFL has yet to expand its playoffs, which means the two division winners meet next week to determine the league's representative for the second Super Bowl. Based on my look at the league standings, I'm betting it's the New York Jets - San Diego Chargers game, as the Jets still have a chance to catch the Houston Oilers for the Eastern Division crown.
There's more sports on tap: Saturday afternoon, ABC gets into the act with the Bluebonnet Bowl in Houston (3:00 p.m.), pitting Colorado and Miami, while on Sunday it's the season premiere of the NBA, featuring the defending Western Division champion San Francisco Warriors and the expansion Seattle SuperSonics. (4:00 p.m.) And on Christmas Day, it's the annual North-South all-star game (1:00 p.m.), telecast from the Orange Bowl in Miami. Being the sports junkie I was back then, I'm sure the week worked quite nicely for me.
This week the TV Teletype reports on a slew of TV pilots in the works. Robert Stack, formerly of The Untouchables, is working with Universal on "Companions for the Night," a movie that could become a series. Craig Stevens, once Peter Gunn, may be an ad man in Walt's Girls, Sidney Sheldon's trial balloon for NBC. Tige Andrews, who used to be one of The Detectives with Robert Taylor, is an inspector in The Mod Squad, an Aaron Spelling pilot for ABC. Pioneer Spirit, the story of "three families who bumble their way to Alaska, looking for life on a frontier," is a project by Green Acres proucer Jay Sommers for NBC. Ryan O'Neal guests on the European Eye adventure pilot for CBS. And Ernest Borgnine and Frankie Michaels ("Mame") are the leads in the proposed Billy and the Kid for CBS. Keeping in mind that titles often change and plots morph, how many of these pilots do you recognize as becoming full-fledged series?
While Christmas may overshadow the rest of the week, there's plenty of interesting non-holiday programming for us to look at as well.
Saturday: Jeremy Clyde, one half of Chad and Jeremy, plays - what else? - a musician who helps out Chip on My Three Sons. (7:30 p.m., CBS) Later on CBS (9:00 p.m.), it's a rerun of the pilot episode of Mannix, with Joe Campanella as Mannix's boss, and a guest cast including Lloyd Nolan, Kim Hunter, and Ironside co-star Barbara Anderson.
Sunday: It's hard to find any non-Christmas programming on Christmas Eve, but a show that caught my eye was Face the Nation (5:00 p.m., CBS), with Dr. Christiaan Barnard, the pioneering heart transplant surgeon from South Africa. Famed heart surgeon Dr. Michael DeBakey and CBS news scorrespondent Martin Agronsky are among the panelists. Hard to imagine any of the Sunday chat shows doing anything but politics nowadays; I don't know what to make of that, but it's not progress.
Tuesday: A fascinating episode of The Red Skelton Hour (CBS, 7:30 p.m.), with the great Maurice Evans narrating as Red illustrates Shakespeare's "Seven Ages of Man," using pantomime, songs and sketches. At 8:00 p.m., NBC's Thursday Night at the Movies presents the 1964 movie Wild and Wonderful, starring Tony Curtis and Christine Kaufmann, who's identified in the ad under the subtitle "Mrs. Tony Curtis." Even in 1967 you see that a lot; earlier in the day (4:00 p.m.) on WCCO's airing of The Mike Douglas Show, one of the guests is "Mrs. Richard J. Hughes, wife of the governor of New Jersey." Her name was actually Elizabeth, but I had to look that up.
Wednesday: Is it only me who finds it interesting that one of the co-stars of Lost in Space (CBS, 6:30 p.m.) is Mark Goddard, and one of the pioneers of rocketry - the very technology that got the Robinsons lost in space - was Robert Goddard? Maybe it was done intentionally. Anyway, Leslie Nielsen guest-stars as the heavy in tonight's episode of The Virginian (NBC, 6:30 p.m.) - easy to forget in the wake of Police Squad! and the subsequent movies that Nielsen was a fine dramatic actor, and quite often an effective bad guy. And the variety shows tonight have a wide range of guests: first, Woody Allen hosts the Kraft Music Hall (NBC, 8:00 p.m.), with a supporting cast of Aretha Franklin, Liza Minnelli, William F. Buckley Jr. and John Byner. And Jonathan Winters kicks off his new weekly show (CBS, 9:00 p.m.) with Red Skelton, Barbara Eden, Ivan Dixon, and The Doors (singing "Light My Fire").
Friday: First, it's one of the most famous and best-loved Star Trek episodes of all time. Tonight (NBC, 7:30 p.m.), "Captain Kirk, assigned to protect a vital grain shipment at a space station, finds that he has troubles with tribbles."* Meanwhile, farewell to Hondo, (ABC, 7:30 p.m.), which leaves the air after tonight, to be replaced by Operation: Entertainment. Meanwhile, Gomer Pyle (CBS, 7:30 p.m.) finds an excuse to stage a base variety show, which gives Jim Nabors a chance to sing "The Desert Song" and "Song of the Vagabond." It would be nice to report that these two songs are, coincidentally, on Nabors' latest album - but, alas, such is not the case. Elsewhere, Judd for the Defense (9:00 p.m., ABC) features a very strong guest cast: Vera Miles, Claude Akins and Charles Grey.
Nilz Baris (William Schallert): You heard me.
Capt. Kirk: I heard you.
Spock: (Helpfully) He simply could not believe his ears.
Late night, the 1965 movie The Outlaws Is Coming! (10:40 p.m., KGLO) stars the Three Stooges as wacky newspaper printers-tured lawmen dealing with every tough gunslinger in the Old West. It co-stars a Batman-era Adam West, which I think tells you the kind of pandemonium this movie must have produced. According to the always-reliable Wikipedia, "In a nod to television's key role in the resurgence of the Stooges' popularity, the outlaws were played by local TV hosts from across the U.S. whose shows featured the trio's old Columbia shorts." Nice touch.
Our starlet of the week is former Miss America Mary Ann Mobley, and the very first set of creditentials that Dwight Whitney presents us are 35-22-34. The more things change, I guess, the more they stay the same. A profile of Richard "Dick" Dawson of Hogan's Heroes presents him as smart and sensitive, and a warm personality, although as I recall, by the time of Family Feud many people described him as distant and aloof. Did he change, or was this profile a bit flattering? Richard Warren Lewis writes about the night of the all-British lineup on The Hollywood Palace, also known as "the night the British stormed the Palace."
All in all, quite a week, with a wonderful collection of Christmas programs. They just don't make them quite like that, do they?