September 1, 2018

This week in TV Guide: September 3, 1966

It's the last week of summer reruns, but before the 1966 TV season officially gets started, ABC fills the airwaves with sneak previews of its most anticipated new shows, including the Batman-inspired The Green Hornet (one season), Hawk (the Burt Reynolds one-season bomb), The Time Tunnel (yep - one season) and That Girl (which actually made it to 1971), and season premieres of the aforementioned Batman, F Troop (final season) and 12 O'clock High (final season). 

Of course, there was also the legendary Tammy Grimes Show, one of the great bombs in the history of TV; in an era when the worst shows usually made it at least 13 weeks, this was cancelled after only four. There was The Milton Berle Show, a disastrous comeback attempt by the man once known as "Mr. Television," which ran only 17 weeks. Robert Lansing, who was not done well by 12 O'clock High, tried to bounce back with the spy vehicle The Man Who Never Was, which lasted 18 weeks but deserved better. At least The Pruitts of Southampton (aka The Phyllis Diller Show) made it the whole season)Notice a theme with these ABC shows? (Hint: it involves "one season.") You can read more about what became of ABC's season, which actually included some carryover series that were very successful, here.

Not to be outdone, NBC had their own "Sneak a Peek" at three of its new offerings, as well as an ad hyping next week's premiere of The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. with Stefanie Powers and Noel "Windmills of Your Mind" Harrison. Two of the sneak peeks were Tarzan, with Ron Ely (which lasted two seasons and presented a fairly enlightened portrait of the title character), and The Hero, with Richard Mulligan (a funny man who rarely achieved the success it deserved. The third? Well, let's just say it boldly went where no man had gone before.

Which of these shows are not like the others? Which of these shows just don't belong?

Interestingly enough, CBS didn't have any teasers, other than its Fall Preview show, which its Minneapolis-St. Paul affiliate, Channel 4 aired at 12:30 p.m. CT on Sunday afternoon. Apparently the Tiffany Network felt it didn't need to work that hard on introducing its new series. However, since I spare no effort for my devoted fans, you can watch that show right here:

But while we were saying hello to a host of new shows, we were also saying goodbye to some old favorites: Branded (replaced by Hey Landlord), The Donna Reed Show and Ozzie and Harriet (bumped in favor of Shane, starring the pre-Kung Fu David Carradine, My Favorite Martian (replaced by It's About Time), and Perry Mason (Garry Moore moved into the timeslot). That last episode of Mason, by the way, was a rerun of "The Case of the Deadly Verdict"that's the one where Perry actually loses to Hamilton Burger, because his client won't level with him. Don't worry, thoughPerry finds out who did it anyway, and gets his client out of the slammer before they throw her in the gas chamber. All in all, I'm not sure the new shows were an upgrade on the old.

Many of these programs have episodes (or at least clips) on YouTubeafter you're done reading here, mosey on over and take a look.

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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..

Ed Sullivan: Ed's guests are comics Alan King and Richard Pryor; singers Petula Clark, Blossom Seeley and Nancy Sinatra; rock 'n' rollers Gary and the Playboys; the Tokyo Happy Coats, aerialists; and the Berosini Chimps.

Hollywood Palace: Hostess Judy Garland welcomes singer Vic Damone, singer-dancer Chita Rivera, comedian Gene Baylos, the comedy team of Avery Schreiber and Jack Burns, the acrobatic Lyons Family and the Three Bragazzi, musical clowns.

Unsurprisingly, both programs this week are repeats, which likely means they were showing some of the best episodes they had available. And while they're both good, I think there's a clear winner—after all, even though Judy Garland is far from what she once was, she's still Judy Garland, and she's the centerpiece of the show, doing a couple of numbers in her famous tramp costume, along with songs that were made famous by singers at the original Palace. Throw in Vic Damone and Chita Rivera, and while the shows may be a push otherwise, these three give Palace the clear win.

One of the things I like about The Hollywood Palace, by the way, is that quite a few of them are on YouTube, including this one, which I think is well worth the watch.

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Today the NFL makes a big deal of its Thursday-night prime time kickoff, but that was nothing compared to the AFL's opening weekend in 1966. The "other league" got the jump on the NFL with a tripleheader, beginning the previous Friday and Saturday nights and concluding with Sunday's matchup between the Buffalo Bills and San Diego Chargers, two of the AFL's dominant teams. But that wasn't all, as NBC would be back this week with another Friday night game, between Joe Namath's New York Jets and the brand-new Miami Dolphins. The NFL, meanwhile, wouldn't start until September 10. (By the way, do you notice that the ad for the game shows they only expect it to run 2½ hours? Ah, those really were the days.)

Apropos for the start of the season is Stanley Frank's behind-the-scenes cover story of how CBS and NBC influenced the NFL-AFL merger. Not surprisingly, it had a lot to do with money. Back then, the NFL (which became the NFC after the merger) was shown by CBS, while the AFL (which became the AFC) was on NBC.  Now, of course, the AFC is on CBS, the NFC is on FOX, Sunday Night Football is on NBC, Monday Night Football is on ESPN, and Thursday Night Football is on FOX. Got it?

One interesting sidebar to the TV debate concerns the blackout policy that existed back in the day.  For many years, the NFL's policy was that not only were a team's home games blacked out in their television market, so were any other games that might be on TV.  The AFL had no such policy, and it was one of the ways they gained a foothold in the television market in the early years; every week, football fans in half of the NFL markets would have only AFL games to choose from on TV. In this case, familiarity didn't breed contempt, but fandom. Despite my long-time fandom of the Green Bay Packers (and, secondarily, the Baltimore Colts), I watched the AFL every week, and one of the reasons why is probably because half the season they were the only game in town. Yeah, I was sorry to see that merger; the two leagues really had their own personalities, their own styles of play, and once they became partners the whole thing got more homogenized, and invariably more dull.

How times have changed, with the NFL and televisionand yet, I suspect there was some progressive owner out there who was envisioning something like Sunday Ticket, and seeing dollar signs.

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Something else you don't see on network television anymore (along with 2½ hour football games) are manned space launches, but there's one scheduled for this Friday—Gemini XI, the penultimate mission of Project Gemini.  In fact, it wouldn't take off until the following Sunday, the 12th, with Pete Conrad and Dick Gordon aboard, with the focus being on a rendezvous and docking with the often unreliable Agena target rocket. It's a crucial rehearsal for one  of the most critical aspects of a lunar landing, the docking between the Command and Lunar Modules. I'm sure, considering the number of reruns on the remainder of the TV schedule, that the networks probably would have preferred the launch take place on timeafter all, there wasn't much else to watch.

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Have we ever talked here about William Hanley? Ah, yes, I can see that we have. Well, Henry Harding's "For the Record" feature headlines NBC's "latest coup in the inter-network competition for quality dramas." According to the network, it's shelled out $112,500. "a record TV payment to a dramatist for single work." The story repeats the fable that the play had been "earmarked" for Broadway, and touted NBC VP William Storke's pronouncement that the play was "bold and daring." If you've not checked out the link yet, take a moment to do so—it's OK, I'll wait—and find out how this "bold and daring" play wound up being one of the fiascoes of the television season.

Elsewhere in the shiny section, Dwight Whitney profiles Eva Gabor and tells us how Green Acres changed her life by revealing to the world that she was actually talented ("I vas hurt because pepple vere surprised I vas a good actress. After all zese years soddenly I am beink discovered."); Edith Efron writes on the singing heartthrob Jack Jones, who's looking to add the role of romantic actor to his resume ("He's even being touted by loyal followers as a 'second Cary Grant' "); and the recipe section gives us new uses for apples. (Apple-Stuffed Roast Chicken and Zesty Apple Dumplings; write me for the recipes.) Finally, the TV Teletype tells us that Bob Hope has signed up for his 13th stint as host of the Academy Awards next April on ABC, and that with Johnny Carson's new contract giving him 13 weeks of vacation every year, Bob Newhart is a "likely candidate" to be permanent guest host.

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Last but not least, Monica Furlong, TV critic for the British humour magazine Punch, discusses the best and worst of American TV as seen on British TV. Her likes: The Virginian ("the British have learned more about the roots of American life, with its neighborliness, its idealism and its guts, from watching The Virginian than from any number of self-conscious cultural exchanges."), The Defenders (which has "a basic honesty - they debate things like drug addiction, mob law, violence, with a passionate sincerity.") and The Dick Van Dyke Show ("we have never yet managed to produce a native television family of undisputed charm."). Dislikes: Perry Mason ("rolls on interminably, Perry and Della linked as platonically as ever.") and The Fugitive ("[older] ladies want to mother him, the younger ones want to love him, and I suspect that the men would probably quite like to hunt him."). But her favorite? "The wit, the grace, the charm, of Yogi Bear, Augie Doggie, Snaglepuss and all the rest" of the Hanna-Barbara cartoons"the best productions, from any source, which we see on our television screens." TV  


  1. Gemini XI and XII did not rate boxed Close-ups as all the previous missions had.
    TV Guide's programming inset indicated a Friday (9/9) launch, but that was scrubbed before network coverage began.
    CBS News covered the scrubbed launch on Saturday, 9/10 from 7:00-8:12AM EST (Florida didn't adapt DST until 1967).
    Monday (9/12) coverage on CBS ran from 7:30-11:30AM and included both the Agena launch (8:05) and the Gemini launch (9:42).
    Both EVAs were covered by CBS: 9/13 (9:30-10:18AM) and 9/14 (7:30-8:04AM-only partial as the Stand-up EVA lasted until 9:58AM).
    Splashdown and recovery operations were carried from 8:00-9:31AM (Splashdown was at 8:58AM).

    1. I suspect that ABC and NBC had similar coverage of Gemini 11 as regards on-air times and the length of such coverage.

      While all three broadcast the launch in color, the splashdown and recovery were carried in Living Black And White (I think the first splashdown/recovery of a manned space flight to be colorcast was Apollo 8 in December of 1968).

  2. 100 years ago, there was a famed Broadway actress/singer named Blossom Seeley, who married New York Giants star pitcher Rube Marquard, which was just about as big a deal as Joe DiMaggio/Marilyn Monroe would be. Could the singer on this week's Ed Sullivan show be that same Blossom Seeley? My memory says that she stayed in show business for many years.

    1. Hat Trick (?):

      Quick check of IMDb shows that Blossom Seeley (1891-1972) would have been 74 in 1966.
      Performers of that vintage generally stayed active as long as their health permitted.
      And Ed Sullivan always gave them a stage to perform on.

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  4. Thanks very much, Mr. Doran. And I did some research and found that this indeed is the Blossom Seeley in question, and that Ed Sullivan had her on his show several times in the 1960's.

  5. NBC also had a Fall Preview special, "Two in a Taxi", featuring Burns & Schreiber as hosts doing an extended version of their "taxi" routine while promoting the network's new schedule, on September 4th at 3pm(et), 2 Central. It's available for viewing on the Internet Archive.


Thanks for writing! Drive safely!