June 29, 2019

This week in TV Guide: June 24, 1967

When a show comes advertised as "A new chapter in television history," you tend to sit up and take notice. Such is Our World, a special airing on NET Sunday afternoon (2:00 p.m. CT). (And when was the last time we led off with a show on public television?)

Our World is billed as "the first live, around-the-world telecast" with participants from five continents taking part. The program is being aired to 30 countries worldwide, thanks to three American and one Soviet satellites. What is it about? Our world's "problems, achievements and prospects for the future." Segments include "This Moment's World," a brief look at the world at the hour of broadcast, "The Hungry World," "The Crowded World," "Aspiration to Excellence," and "The World Beyond." Paul Niven, NET's lead Washington correspondent, is the narrator; less than three years later, he'll die from head injuries after jumping out of a window to escape from a fire that sweeps through his Georgetown townhouse.

The program's best segment is probably "Aspiration to Excellence," which includes a performance by The Beatles, who perform "All You Need is Love" for the first time (with a chorus of "friends," including members of the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Marianne Faithfull, Keith Moon and Graham Nash), as well as Maria Callas, Pablo Picasso, Van Cliburn and Leonard Bernstein, and others.

There's an interesting Wikipedia article about this program. The Soviet Union pulled out of production at the last moment, probably in protest over the West's support of Israel in the recent Six-Day War; the missing Soviet satellite was replaced by one from NASA. Despite the Eastern bloc nations pulling out, the show's still transmitted to 24 countries, with an estimated audience of between 400 and 700 million people. The program actually runs a half-hour over it's scheduled running time of two hours.

Below are highlights from the broadcast, which don't include the performance from The Beatles; you'll have to check the video below for that.

*The Beatles performance, as was the rest of the broadcast, was originally in black-and-white; for its use in the 1995 TV special The Beatles Anthology, the Beatles' performance was colorized, We eschew colorized clips, though; we're like TCM that way.

t  t  t

While The Hollywood Palace is on summer break, ABC filled the Saturday night time slog with Piccadilly Palace, a London-based variety show starring the iconic British comedy duo of Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise, We'll stop in from time to time during the summer months to see who has the best lineup..

Sullivan: Scheduled guests are singers Connie Francis, Ronnie Dove and the Swingle Singers; comedians Henny Youngman, Flip Wilson, and the comedy team of Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara; Joaquin Robles' flamenco dancers, who are accompanied by Los Rebeldes, a mariachi band; and Augsberg's Jungle Wonders, a chimpanzee act.

Piccadilly: Guests are singers Bobby Vinton and Georgie Fame. Hosts Morecambe and Wise do a zany impression of an Arabian sheik newly arrived in England, and join the show's writers for a slapstick parody of a pop singing group. Regular: Millicent Martin.

I have to admit neither of this week's lineups do much for me, but you don't come here to see me equivocate, do you? Very well: Piccadilly Palace is not really Hollywood Palace with a British accent; it's more like The Morecambe & Wise Show, so more of the program is built around them. That doesn't give us much to go on. While not all of Ed's guests are to my taste, it's a more substantial lineup, and so I'm giving Sullivan the decision on points.

t  t  t

Piccadilly Palace isn't the only summer replacement on the air this week. There seem to be three basic categories into which summer series fall: they're either trying out for a spot in the fall lineup, keeping the seat warm until the star returns from vacation (usually a variety show), or allowing the network to gather an assortment of failed concepts into an anthology series like Summer Playhouse, thus giving failure a veneer of respectability. (The indispensable FredFlix has a nice video retrospective on these here.)

Is this an idea or what?
The possibilities for fun with this concept are endless. For example: suppose the producers of Gunsmoke, in an attempt to placate star James Arness during the latest round of contract negotiations, decide to give him an extra few weeks off next season? We could be treated to Festus and Doc, where two of Dodge City's most beloved characters get to take over while Marshal Dillon is in the capital or on vacation or sleeping late.

Or take Ed Sullivan. Ed doesn't usually mingle with his guests unless they're someone special. So if you want to give a young comic a trial to see how well they'd do with their own show, why not take performances from various shows during the season and splice in a new host? He or she gets to do their own shtick, maybe a monologue and a skit or something, and then let them introduce the Supremes, or George Carlin, or Bobby Darin. You're guaranteed good performances (because you, as producer and editor, picked them yourself), plus a brand-new host that actually shows some life. I know, probably union rules prohibit it.

I could go on, but you get the point. In the real world, Away We Go (Saturday, 6:30 p.m. CBS) is the replacement for, as you might have guessed, Jackie Gleason. George Carlin is the host, Buddy Greco and buddy Rich are regulars, and Richard Pryor, Taro Delphi, and the Teddy Neeley Five vocal group are the guests. On Thursday, CBS has reruns of the Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour (6:30 p.m.), Vic Damone substitutes for Dean Martin (9:00 p.m., NBC), with Cliff Arquette, Donna Jean Young, and Victor Julian and his dogs as guests, and Carol Lawrence and Gail Martin on the cast. ABC uses the same timeslot to introduce a series called Summer Focus, taking over for Stage '67, with a rerun of "1776," a look at the early years of the Revolution, narrated by Fredric March. The episode was originally seen on Saga of Western Man in 1963.

Although it's preempted this week by CBS's series on the Warren Report (see below), the series Coronet Blue has already debuted to moderate success; next week, the network premieres the variety show Spotlight as a fill-in for Red Skelton, and introduces the proverbial series of failed comedy pilots. There will be more to come, but while some summer series succeed, and others fail, will any of them be as interesting as Festus & Doc?

t  t  t

It's a mixed sports bag this week; NBC's Game of the Week (Saturday, 1:00 p.m.) the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins, two teams who will spend the season battling for first place in the American League, along with the Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox. Because the Twins are involved, the NBC affiliate, KSTP, gets the backup game between the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets, neither of whom will be battling for the National League pennant. On Wednesday night, the aforementioned Twins and Red Sox square off at Metropolitan Stadium in a rare televised home game (WTCN, 8:00 p.m.) The Cleveland Open is the golf tournament of the week, airing Saturday and Sunday at 3:00 p.m. on ABC.

Sunday afternoon, the Chicago Spurs take on the Philadelphia Spartans in a match of the National Professional Soccer League. (1:30 p.m., CBS) Never heard of the NPSL? Back in 1967 there were, if you can believe it, not one but two pro soccer leagues in this country, the other being the United Soccer League. After this season they would merge to form the North American Soccer League (NASL), which will stick around until 1984. Without the Spurs and Spartans, though.

Two other programs of note; Sunday, NBC's Smithsonian (5:30 p.m.) presents "The Flight of the Spirit of St. Louis and the Friendship 7," a look at two men who took solo flights into the future. Glenn appears with NBC newsman Bill Ryan; while Lindbergh is still alive, he does not appear, but his words are voiced by Fredric March. We didn't get this program in the Twin Cities, at least not on this particular date, although it could have been shown at another time. Instead, we're shown a rerun of an episode from NBC's acclaimed Project 20 series, "The Law and the Prophets."

On Thursday night, My Three Sons (7:30 p.m., CBS) presents a witty, lighthearted look at TV's influence on the family, with "Charley imposing a one-week ban on viewing, Steve getting hooked on the late-late show, and Robbie and a cynical coed producing at TV drama dissecting family life." As long as you don't tell me that the drama was called An American Family, we should be just fine.

t  t  t

We haven't looked at one of Hollywood's starlets lately, and so this week Leslie Raddatz turns his gaze upon Sara Lane, currently playing Elizabeth Grainger on NBC's The Virginian. She's not like the average starlet though, Raddatz assures us. For one thing, her shirts actually cover her knees! (Sometimes, at least.) She lives at home with her parents instead of in some swinging apartment, she doesn't have a name like most starlets, "Melody" or "Karen" or "Jill." And she doesn't date other Hollywood stars. Heck, she doesn't even know how to drive.

So how does a girl like this get into showbiz? Thank her father, Rusty Lane, the veteran character actor, and her mother, actress Sara Anderson. She would travel with her parents as they appeared in road company productions of plays like The Desperate Hours. Movie producer William Castle noticed her in a Miss Teen-Age pageant, and gave her a role in I Saw What You Did with Joan Crawford. And, well, the next thing you knew, she was on The Virginian.

I didn't watch The Virginian growing up, so the fact that I hadn't heard of Sara Lane before didn't particularly mean anything to me. She remained on the show until 1970, appearing in over 100 episodes. She did several episodes of The Hollywood Squares in 1969. and a pair of Billy Jack movies in the 1970s, before retiring to run a vineyard with her husband (who, true to form, was not a Hollywood actor). Today, she works with troubled children, and that makes her a star in my book.

t  t  t

Finally, the major news story this week is CBS's four-part series on the Warren Report, which runs Sunday through Wednesday night. By 1967, there was considerable doubt about the validity of the Warren Commission, which had concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin of President Kennedy; several books, most prominently attorney Mark Lane's Rush to Judgment, had been written challenging the findings, while in late 1966, New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison had begun the investigation that would result in the indictment of businessman Clay Shaw for conspiracy in the assassination. (Shaw was acquitted, obviously, which was the right verdict.) On top of that, Life Magazine had published color photographs of the famed Zapruder film, with the headline “Did Oswald Act Alone? A Matter of Reasonable Doubt.” The editors questioned the Commission’s conclusions and called for a new investigation.

With this as backdrop, CBS presents its four-hour inquiry into the Report. (Apparently the program was originally scheduled to run for three nights; according to The Doan Report, CBS has uncovered so much "significant" material that they're adding an extra night.) Part one, on Sunday, presents a recreation of the assassination (remember, the actual Zapruder film won't be shown on TV for another few years), to test how quickly and how accurately Mannlicher-Carcano rifles can be fired, and addresses other questions about the investigation. (Did Oswald actually own the murder weapon? What did witnesses to the assassination see?). Parts two and three discuss various conspiracy theories, and the conclusion examines why people doubt the findings. It's a comprehensive look at the Warren Report, which answers a lot of questions (provided, of course, that you're open to being convinced). Alas, I don't know how much it did for those who'd already fallen into the clutch of conspiracy buffs.

I don't know why I was attracted to all this; perhaps I had a vague memory of the assassination, or maybe I was just interested in true crime. My mother had bought several of the Kennedy books as they came out, knowing that I would be interested in them when I was older, and she'd saved the newspapers from that weekend, as well as the TV Guide from the following January that looked at how TV had covered it. Little would I know, as I read through those pages in the years to come, that some day I'd be able to see almost all of it on YouTube. Clearly, for me it was the shape of things to come. TV  


  1. I'm watching that M3S episode, "TV or Not TV", that I recorded off Me-TV, now. Robbie's girlfriend's satire show is certainly very cynical, and it's a terrible flop. That episode title was used for quite a few sitcoms, including MY MOTHER THE CAR.

  2. That "idea" of yours about Festus And Doc?

    Funny thing - it actually happened.

    Not quite the way you posited it, of course.

    Some time about midway in Gunsmoke's 20-year run - specifically, about the point when they went to color - the producer's job was taken over by a writer-producer named John Mantley.
    Mantley, who'd written for the show in the past, had great respect for Gunsmoke, and was determined to keep the quality high.
    During this period, Jim Arness was starting to have some health problems, mainly about some leg injuries he'd suffered during his war service, but also because he was just plain getting older.
    John Mantley decided to take advantage of Gunsmoke's ensemble cast, and whenever possible brought Doc, Festus, Kitty, and ultimately even Newly, to carry certain episodes, so that Matt could get some down time.
    Also, Mantley had a "repertory" guest policy, where actors like Victor French, Jack Elam, Ken Swofford, Lane Bradbury, and quite a few others could come in for annual or semi-annual appearances, thereby spreading the work out through the long years.
    Not forgetting here that Gunsmoke always attracted name guest stars, who knew that it was the best-run set in the business.

    OK, not exactly your "idea", but John Mantley was a pro, who knew his business and how to keep it going - for twenty years.

    1. Unless the show was "Buck Rogers". Then, he found a way to run it into the ground during the very first episode that he produced.

    2. Hate to be the one to break the history to you …

      When John Mantley came onto Buck Rogers -
      - which happened to be on NBC during a period when the network had totally forgotten how to promote new series -
      - which was already circling the drain in a tough time slot (against The Waltons, mainly) -
      - and which had just lost half a season to an industry strike -

      I remember that the network promos for Buck Rogers that season (January of '81) spotlighted John Mantley as The Guy Who Would Save The Show - and if NBC hadn't been in back-up-the-truck mode at the time (check the schedules that year), he might have had a shot.
      But scapegoating has always been a favorite pastime among genre dweebs, then, now, and (sadly) always.
      To all who say nay, I have a name in response - Fred Freiberger, the SciFi Crowd's all-time fave "show-killer" … at least until you read what really happened.
      The foregoing is the main reason why I've never been a "fanboy" - and why I'm grateful that I managed to avoid it.

  3. That summer Steve Allen had a comedy show on CBS, in the Wednesday night slot where Danny Kaye had finished his four season run.



Thanks for writing! Drive safely!