March 24, 2018

This week in TV Guide: March 25, 1967

What has television done now? It seems as if every time one turns around, the medium is being blamed for one despicable thing or another - or, as Martin Maloney describes it in his dryly humorous article, "everything except warts and hangnails."

Pity the poor television executive, he says: at the moment of truth, "He must emerge from his mink-lined foxhole and make a public statement, usually a pretty innocuous one, to the effect that there are worse things in this world than television, such as cancer and the napalm bomb. Then, according to time-honored ritual, he is clobbered with a barrage of charges and specifications so horrifying, all-encompassing and unprovable that the late Judge Jeffreys, the Hanging Judge, would have blushed to introduce them during the Bloody Assizes."

No matter what the executive does, he can't escape. No matter what he says, it's the wrong thing. If you think "fake news" is a recent invention, Jeffreys quotes historian Daniel Boorstein, who "claimed that the mass media were engaged mainly in the business of supplying people with pseudo-news about nonhappenings, and thus getting them out of touch with reality." Some things never change; we just call them different things. Then there's Dr. Frederic Wertham, who in a previous issue of TV Guide wrote that television, through their presentation of violent shows and "murder news" conditions audiences to the point that they find the horrors of Vietnam "tame stuff."

It goes on and on, and while I wouldn't say that Maloney dismisses it out of hand, his personal opinion is "nobody knows for sure." He looks back at the history of, for example, "War of the Worlds." Orson Welles accused of creating panic? Well, yes, but - it turns out that most of the people who were the most scared hadn't even heard the broadcast, but were deeply religious people fearing that the end of the world had come. "So if we don't want panic," Maloney says, "maybe we should eliminate religion - or at least, the hard-core gospel, the sort of thing that makes people nervous?"

What's the conclusion that Maloney reaches? "[I]f you really wonder why people beat children, or take heroin, or bomb civilians, or pollute the air they themselves must breathe...well, may heaven bless you." And find success looking for a good scapegoat.

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The highlight of the sports week is Saturday night's NCAA basketball championship final, telecast live from Louisville on the syndicated Sports Network Incorporated, with Bill Flemming and Frank Sims calling the action. The tournament's much different than it is today, with 23 teams instead of, what, 68 this year? Or is it 168? I can't keep track. Anyway, it's a historic tournament, the start of UCLA's reign of terror (seven consecutive championships), defeating Dayton in the final 79-64.

This is the fifth year for the tournament final to be televised, although only once in the past has it been seen on network TV (1962, when Wide World of Sports showed it on a one-day delay). Although the rival NIT has had a contract for several years with CBS, it won't be until 1969 that the NCAA returns to the big time, on NBC. The rest, of course, is history.

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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. 

This week Cleveland Amory boldly goes where no man has gone before - to review the adventures of the Starship Enterprise on Star Trek. And it takes viewers on quite a trip as well.

He likes the ensemble cast - William Shatner ("last of the clean-cutters") is just right for Captain Kirk; "When he says sternly, 'Affirmative' or 'Negative' to some scheming girl yeoman, you just know - well, he yeomeans it." He picks up on Spock's ears, of course, but also his "precise, logical turn of mind." Dr. McCoy, Mr. Sulu, Lieutenant Uhura - the whole crew is "so darn well-integrated internationally that it seems a pity to waste them on outer space. We need them right here on Earth."

Cleve also picks up on the "Wagon Train in space" aspect of the show, calling the adventures "shoot-'em-ups of one sort or another." In the episode "Shore Leave," the crew runs into "a large White Rabbit, a small Alice, a don Juan, a tiger, a Japanese samurai, a German strafing plane, a Black Knight (apparently a loser in the Ajax contest), as well as a rather hazy girl friend of Captain Kirk's." It's pretty exciting stuff. For kids, that is - for adults, the best way to watch it is, as Amory quotes Kirk one last time, "Face front. Don't talk. Don't think. Don't breathe!"

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Hot off the press - or at least the Teletype:
  • Vic Damone will be the summer replacement for Dean Martin, while Deano goes off to Mexico to make The Ambushers, the second of his great Matt Helm movies. 
  • Celebrity barber Jay Sebring, who charges stars up to $50 for a haircut (today's value: $374.66), is playing - what else? - a barber in an April episode of The Virginian. Sadly, Sebring's most famous role will be as one of the victims of the Manson Family at Sharon Tate's home in 1969.
  • Speaking of Sharon Tate, Judy Garland has been announced as one of the stars of Tate's best-known movie, Valley of the Dolls. Unfortunately for Judy, she'll be sacked from the production, supposedly after showing up drunk, and is replaced by Susan Hayward. Meanwhile, Tate will go on to co-star in the fourth Matt Helm movie, The Wrecking Crew. It's her last movie to be released before her murder.
  • Peter Graves, already a veteran of three series, chooses to accept the role of Jim Phelps in Mission: Impossible next fall, replacing Steven Hill.
  • Joan Blondell's been signed for a new ABC series, Mrs. Thursday. If you've never heard of it, you're not alone - it never made it past the pilot stage. Instead, Blondell winds up on a different ABC series, Here Come the Brides. Fair trades for all concerned, I'd say.
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Will this be CURTAINS! for Batman? The show's ratings are still fairly good, though nowhere near what they were when Batman was the newest sensation, but ABC's already worried that the show "might fizzle as fast as it took off" last year. They're thinking about pairing Adam West up with a "Batgirl," played by Yvonne Adair, in order to give the whole thing a shot in the arm.

Now, we know that Batman survives, at least for a little while longer, but who is this Yvonne Adair? She's mentioned a couple of times in TV Guide in conjunction with Batman, but I haven't been able to find out anything about her. There was a Yvonne Adair, born around 1922, who did some work on Broadway, but that hardly sounds like Batgirl material, does it? We all know that the real Batgirl was Yvonne Craig, but there's no record of "Adair" as one of her names. So who knows? If anyone does, I'm sure it's one of you all out there.

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March 26, 1967 is Easter Sunday, so let's see what television is doing to commemorate Christianity's holiest day.

Some big names appear on The Triumphant Hour, a syndicated program (Saturday, 4:30 p.m., KGLO). The Triumphant Hour dates back to 1951, when it was the first TV program from Family Theater Productions, a product of Fr. Patrick Peyton, the famous "Rosary Priest" who's slogan was, "The family that prays together stays together." When it came to television, Fr. Peyton was pretty serious; The Triumphant Hour stars Bob Hope and his family, Don Amache, Jerry Colonna, Ruth Hussey, Roddy McDowall, Pat O'Brien, and Jane Wyman. Here's the teaser:

Easter morning brings several programs; CBS reruns a special Easter Concert (9:00 a.m.), featuring Metropolitan Opera soprano Laurel Hurley with the CBS Orchestra and the Camerata Singers. That's followed at 10:00 a.m. by an Easter service live from the United Church on the Green in New Haven, Connecticut. Incidentally, WCCO, the CBS affiliate in Minneapolis-St. Paul, carries neither of these programs; instead, we were treated to a Bowery Boys movie.  NBC is also on at 10:00 a.m., with Easter Mass from the Grail, in Loveland, Ohio.  Interestingly enough, our NBC affiliate, KSTP, doesn't carry this either, although at least its replacement is another religious program, Frontiers of Faith.

At noon, ABC (and KMSP, the Minneapolis-St. Paul affiliate; yippie!) broadcasts a taped replay of the Good Friday service at Holy Name Church in San Francisco. Later in the afternoon - 4:30 p.m., to be exact, WCCO somewhat redeems itself with a half-hour of Easter music from the Gustavus Adolphus College choir. However, before we get too excited, we're once again left out in the cold when KSTP neglects to carry the Bell Telephone Hour's broadcast of the Easter music from Handel's "Messiah" (5:30 p.m.), with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, from Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver. Again, I'll give them this; it's pre-empted by Of Lands and Seas, with a tour of the Holy Land.

For most of my adult life, ABC has traditionally broadcast The Ten Commandments on Easter evening, but I'm guessing the custom hasn't yet started; instead, at 6:00 p.m. it's the Biblical spectacular The Robe, the first movie to be made in CinemaScope, with Richard Burton in one of his seven Oscar-nominated roles (no wins, alas); the movie, which was nominated for Best Picture, also stars Jean Simmons, Michael Rennie, Dean Jagger, and Richard Boone as a particularly nasty Pilate.

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There's a line in the movie Holiday Inn when Bing Crosby, explaining to Fred Astaire why he's leaving their act, says that in show business a holiday means you do two shows. With that as the backdrop, it doesn't surprise me at all that the Tony Awards are telecast for the first time on network television Sunday night (8:30 p.m., ABC), hosted by Mary Martin and Robert Preston.  The Tonys were much bigger in this era than they are today, or maybe I should say much more familiar, since so many movie and television stars had their roots in the legitimate theater. In fact, Preston is one of the winners this year, taking home Best Actor in a Musical for I Do, I Do. You'll probably recognize some of the other winners; Barbara Harris is Best Actress in a Musical for The Apple Tree, Ian Holm wins Supporting Actor in a Play for The Homecoming (Harold Pinter's play, which also won Best Play), and Joel Grey wins Supporting Actor in a Musical for Cabaret, which also wins Best Musical.

You can watch the whole thing on YouTube - minus commercials, it's only a little more than an hour. Can you believe that for an awards show?

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Finally, some good news from the mailbag. Everyone loved  "Mark Twain Tonight," Hal Holbrook's famous one-man show, when it was broadcast on CBS three weeks ago. Sheila Walker of Beloit, Wisconsin hopes it wins an Emmy (it will), Judith O'Rourke of Walpole, Massachusetts, offers a BRAVO for Holbrook and DOUBLE BRAVO to Mark Twain himself, and Mrs. M.D. Collins of Delmar, Delaware, says that "with shows like this on the tube, there's got to be hope for the future of television." That should indeed be something we can all agree on. TV  


  1. First things first:

    - 'Yvonne Adair' is what they call in the magazine biz - a misprint.
    Whoever was at TV Guide's proofreading desk that week saw 'Yvonne' and a name with 'ai' in it, recalled the name 'Adair' from someplace, and there you are.
    This is the principle known as Occam's Razor: basically, the simplest explanation is usually the true one.

    - Looking through the program pages, this was a packed week, as far as the regular programming was concerned.
    One show on Tuesday night, in particular, caught my eye - both then and now:
    NBC's Tuesday Night At The Movies presented the World Premiere of the pilot film for Ironside, which NBC had already picked up for the fall schedule.
    I don't know if you've ever actually seen this pilot; if not, I suggest that you find a way to do so - there are more than a few surprises, even now. After I finish typing this, I'm going straight to the Old DVD Wall to see it again.

    - And after that, I'll probably spend the rest of this weekend looking up a bunch of other shows that ran that week - '67 was a good year for our kind of TV.
    I should have a more detailed report by Sunday night.
    (You might want to take another look at those program pages yourself, and try to guess which shows I'm going to look at ...)

    - One other thing:
    Bill Veeck was still doing his nightly half-hour talk show on the still-new Channel 32.
    The '67 baseball season was just coming up, but Bill held himself to two half-hours on the subject:
    On Tuesday - in prime time - Bill talked ball with Ron Santo (Cubs) and Moe Drabowsky (ex-Cubs), two of the funniest men who ever played ball.
    And on Thursday - in the regular late-night slot - Bill had Tribune columnist Will Leonard and another guy named Wally Heim, to talk about the St Louis Browns Fan Club. Bill Veeck was the last owner of the Brownies, and held a venerated position in the Club; the three men sang the Club Song, "Onward and Upward, St. Louis Browns!", which you really ought to hear at least once in your life.
    "We're not down-hearted - we're Brown-hearted!"
    Truly stirring ...

    Now on to The Wall.

  2. BATMAN fell pretty steeply during Season Two:

    WED segment: From 10th place to 58th place, down to a 28.6 share which got this installment dropped from 1967-68. Last place in the time period, with LOST IN SPACE finishing 44th (30.9 share) and THE VIRGINIAN taking over BATMAN's old ranking from the prior year, 10th.

    THURSDAY segment: This is the one that was renewed, finishing 37th place for the season with a 33 share. Second in the time period to DANIEL BOONE (25th) but way ahead of CBS's competition, JERICHO and COLISEUM, neither of which made the top 70.

    Of the week's episodes, one of my favorite F TROOPs aired Thursday, "Our Brave in F Troop".

  3. Oh, and Thursday BATMAN still fell quite a bit, from 5th place in 1965-66 to 37th. But a 33 share was more than enough to ensure renewal then, typically a 30 share was the requirement to stay on the air in most time periods. Wednesday BATMAN fell below that.

  4. I love Cleveland Amory's Ajax reference to the Black Knight. I wonder how many people could get the reference today.

  5. As promised/threatened, I'm back from the Old DVD Wall, with a whole bunch of stuff from this week's listings.

    In order (after a fashion):
    Mission: Impossible has James Daly in three parts:
    - An American diplomat who's being held captive by the Bad Guys;
    - A Bad Guy spy who's disguised as the diplomat;
    - ... and Dan Briggs in rubberface, who knocks out the BGS and takes his place to prevent The Plot.
    (Steven Hill is in the open and the close; the rest of the time it's Daly.)
    Also in the mix is the Bad Guy Boss Spy who pretends to be an American assistant: it's Sorrell Booke, going back and forth between a Russkie accent and a Midwestern one.
    For most of the show, the Bad Guy Spy is held by the IMF and given some treatments, including electroshock therapy, to get the needed intel to complete the mission.
    This was one of the first Mission episodes to be written by Laurence Heath, whom we've mentioned in past comments - but that might just be a coincidence ...

    - Captain Nice, Buck Henry's superhero spoof, has a fairly funny show, with John Fiedler as a hitman with really bad aim, and Madlyn Rhue as a femme fatale who almost outsmarts everybody (admittedly a low bar).

    - The Girl From UNCLE pits Stefanie Powers, and Noel Harrison against a sinister Japanese woman, played under Kabuki/Geisha makeup by Swedish actress Signe Hasso.
    In the same show, Michael J. Pollard is back and forth playing his standard goofball, that he'd been doing for the previous decade; this is just before the release of Bonnie And Clyde, when the Movie Critics Of America hailed him to the skies for playing the exact same character.

    - The Invaders has Roy Thinnes and Norman Fell trying to convince tycoon Ed Begley Sr. about the Invasion; things don't go as planned ...

    - The Fugitive puts David Janssen in an African embassy in DC, under the protection of the ailing Ambassador, while Gerard stands outside and fumes.
    The Ambassador is Ivan Dixon, who swung a week off from Hogan's Heroes for the gig. Also moonlighting is Lloyd Gough, who'd just wrapped The Green Hornet, playing a lawyer who tries to help Dr. Kimble, sort of.
    In the same show: Dominic Frontiere's music from The Outer Limits, which found its way into any number of United Artists-produced series in later years.

    Batman closes its second season with Eli Wallach taking over as Mr. Freeze, and Elisha Cook Jr. not playing a henchman.

    I Spy features Wally Cox as a cashiered government clerk whom Culp & Cosby have to protect from a gorgeous enemy spy.
    Actually, it's a charming and funny story; Cox still had his performing chops, but ultimately Hollywood Squares won out ...

    Friday (big night):
    - Wild Wild West has Joe Campanella as a Lugosi-like leader of a Balkan wolf pack (real wolves).
    - The Green Hornet repeats its pilot film, with a mysterious female Dutch jewel dealer, played by Signe Hasso, op cit.
    - The Time Tunnel plops the two heroes into the battle of Khartom; unfortunately, some nasty space aliens arrive at the same time, and hilarity ensues ...
    - The Man From UNCLE has part one of "The Five Daughters Affair", one of those double-length epics that MGM would sell overseas as theatrical features.
    You can check out the cast yourself in the listing; suffice to say that the budget on this one (two?) probably outstripped most UNCLE episodes for the year.
    - The Avengers has "Never, Never Say Die", in which Steed and Mrs. Peel are confronted with a huge guy who apparently can't be killed.
    Featuring as Prof. Frank N. Stone - Christopher Lee.
    (I told you this was a busy night ...)

    The above was just the stuff I had on hand.
    Anybody out there who can supplement these, please do so.

  6. Considering this year's NCAA Final Four and Championship air on a gaggle of soon-to-be AT&T Television channels, led by "TruTV" (!), it says much about this weekend on television when golf and football (Bundesliga, MLS, Premier League) are all that's on, not college basketball, which is on that obscure reality channel.

    Easter specials have sadly become fewer and further between. What is now AT&T's special channel once aired "Songs of Faith" with Amy Grant and Darrell Waltrip (whose non-motorsport television career effectively ended when MTV took over CBS; he was a fill-in host for Prime Time Country and its predecessors, Music City Tonight and Nashville Now, the last he earned through friendships with host Ralph Emery, a well known radio personality) with primarily bad "worship" music of the mid-2000's. I don't see any Resurrection themed shows this year for Easter on any channel.

    Today's churches are making Easter services worse. Many are offering karaoke or live rock concert productions from the major entertainment companies singing from notorious heresy providers Hillsong and Bethel (Redding, California).

    Sadly, as I've noted and it happened again last month at the Olympics, the humanist anthem "Imagine" that pictures a utopia without God was played at the Opening Ceremony. We've gone from Mendelssohn to Lennon in 50+ years, and television of today reflects the elites of Hollywood now.

  7. It should be noted that Eli Wallach was the third actor to play the Caped Crusader's cold, cruel arch villain (previously done by George Sanders and Otto Preminger)-and was the only Mr. Freeze with hair! Also on hand were Leslie Parrish as Emma Strunk-alias skating star Glacia Glaze, and Skye Aubrey who played a gal named Carol, but who also turned up in the season 3 episode "Louie, the Lilac" as Barbara Gordon's friend Princess Primrose.

    I'm sure WCCO and KSTP did well to make up for the shows they blocked out on Easter Sunday, and I know we'll see more in your listings overview. But I must implore you, Mr. Hadley, PLEASE don't leave any stations out of the loop this time? I had to give u an incomplete on your overview of the Nebraska edition-you left out the stations from my hometown, Sioux Falls/Mitchell, SD! Here's hoping when you get another one, you SHALL NOT make the same mistake. Okay?

    I'm now aching to check out the I Spy ep with Wally Cox, but Mike D. should know of another season 2 episode worth checking out. I reccomend "Mainly on the Plains", w/Boris Karloff playing a man so enthralled with the story of Don Quiote that there are times he begins to act like said character-all while carrying a secret formuli that enemy agents would kill for. It's a truly great story, one of the series' best, IMO.

    Unlike Mike, I have no DVD wall. But classic TV, like that from 51 years ago, gets me rather chatty. And right about now, my throat is getting dry. Allow me to get refreshed. See ya when the "What's on TV?" post comes out.


Thanks for writing! Drive safely!