July 6, 2019

This week in TV Guide: July 6, 1968

I think if you were to look up the word "vivacious" in the dictionary, you might find a picture something like this week's cover. Barbara Eden just jumps off the page, doesn't she? I can imagine someone opening up their mailbox on Thursday or Friday, seeing this, and saying to themselves, "well, hello there!" It's a compliment to two things: Gene Howard's photograph (and the excellent color choreography), and Barbara Eden's personality. I was never a big fan of Jeannie myself, but I don't know anyone who didn't—and doesn't—find her charming.

Inside, Dwight Whitney's story touches on the famous "navel" controversy (executive producer Sidney Sheldon says, "I'm not playing navels. I'm playing boy-meets-girl. What makes Jeannie sexy is that she doesn't play sex."); points out that Jeannie is the only TV show "in which an attractive unmarried girl has the free run of a bachelor's apartment"; looks at the subtly masochistic undercurrent of Tony and Jeannie's "master-slave" relationship (it "seems better suited to the Marquis de Sade"); and presents Eden as "an extraordinary combination of glamorpot and lady," a sex symbol "packaged in propriety" Her self-doubt of her own talent is pure, says Whitney, which helps make the whole scenario acceptable to conservative viewers.

Eden's journey to Jeannie has taken her through bad movies and bad television shows to the stardom that is well-earned. She helped save Larry Hagman's job after he clashed with producers early on in the series' run, and her good-natured humor keeps everything together. She's been married for ten years to fellow actor Michael Ansara, who is proud of his wife's success while at the same time wishing he had a series of his own (he was formerly on Broken Arrow). Ansara is portrayed as very much of a traditionalist when it comes to the family (Eden believes the man should be the dominant figure), and you have to wonder if that inequality plays a role in their divorce in 1974.

And what does she think about all this fuss over her navel? "No reason to fight with anybody. What's to fight about? Argue with a genie in a bottle?"

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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..

Sullivan: Guests: Yul Brynner, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, the rocking Doors, comedians Flip Wilson and Rodney Dangerfield, singers Alice and Ellen Kessler, and the Skating Bredos.

Palace: Phyllis Diller is hostess for a beach party at the Palace. Guests: comedian Phil Harris; Frankie Avalon and actress Annette Funicello, who have appeared in beach-party movies; the rocking 5th Dimension; the Herculeans, balancing act; and a seal act.

A pair of reruns this week, and pretty good lineups at that. The difference comes down to head-to-head performance: the Doors perform "Light My Fire" and "People Are Strange," while the 5th Dimension counters with "Up, Up and Away" and "California, My Way." Advantage: Sullivan. Yul Brynner vs. Phyllis Diller? Advantage: Sullivan. Steve and Eydie or Frankie and Annette? Advantage: Push. Rodney Dangerfield and Flip Wilson, or Phil Harris? Advantage: Palace. (If it was just Dangerfield, it would be a push.) The Kessler Twins and the Skating Bredos or the Herculeans and a seal? Advantage: Sullivan. Tale of the tape: Sullivan wins the decision.

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When A Hard Day's Night originally aired on NBC in October 1967, the network ran this opening in place of the Peacock:

The movie, which presents the Beatles in what Judith Crist calls "their freshest, zaniest and most charming," is rerun on Saturday Night at the Movies (8:00 p.m. CT). It's part of a very British night of television, starting with dueling spy dramas at 6:30 p.m.: NBC's The Saint finds Simon Templar in Geneva, investigating the "mysterious disappearance" of a Russian scientist who was trying to defect to the West." Meanwhile, over on CBS, it's one of the most chilling episodes of The Prisoner: "Number Six is drugged and physically transformed. He awakens to find that he has a new appearance and a new identity. Only his mind tells him who he really is—and there is an exact double of his former self to refute that idea at every turn." It's a terrific episode.

Sunday, an NBC news special, "The New American Catholic" (3:30 p.m.), examines the post-Vatican II Church, updated to "make it relevant to 20th-century man." Features include a parish without a church building that spends its funds on programs for slum dwellers; an order of nuns that's given up the convent to work outside the church; and priests involved in civil rights, liturgical changes, and democratization of the Church. Considering how Mass attendance has plummeted since then, we know just how successful these programs were in making the Church more relevant, right? Right?

Among the summer reruns on Monday, there's some originality, starting with the British import The Champions (7:00 p.m., NBC), the cult sci-fi spy thriller starring Stuart Damon, Alexandra Bastedo, and William Gaunt, and featuring many familiar faces to fans of British TV. Following that, at 8:00 p.m. NBC has one of those anthology series comprised of failed pilots; this one, Comedy Playhouse, is hosted by Monty Hall. Another one, CBS's Premiere (9:00 p.m.), has Burt Reynolds as a crusading undercover magazine writer.

In baseball, 1968 was known as "The Year of the Pitcher," with record low ERAs for hurlers, and record low batting averages for hitters; nothing demonstrates this better, or with more deadly effect, than the 39th All-Star Game (7:00 p.m. Tuesday, NBC). This is the first All-Star game ever played indoors, at the Houston Astrodome; it's also the first nighttime All-Star game since 1944. Willie Mays come home from third base on a double play in the first inning to put the Nationals ahead, 1-0—and, well, that's it. It's the first 1-0 game in All-Star history; I'm not sure how many people managed to stay awake until the end.

On Wednesday, The Avengers (6:30 p.m., ABC) features a Steed-Mrs. Peel repeat, which gives me a chance to criticize the tasteless letter to the editor praising the reruns as a chance to "get back the Peel instead of the lemon." Granted, Linda Thorson's Tara King takes a bit of getting used-to after the vivacious (there's that word again!) performance of Diana Rigg as Emma Peel, but that's no excuse for a lemon of a letter. Later, Johnny Mathis headlines the Kraft Music Hall (8:00 p.m., NBC), hosted by Ed McMahon, with Jackie Vernon, Harpers Bizarre, Eddie Hazell, and Jackie & Roy.

Thursday is another example of how capricious affiliates can be when it comes to carrying network programming. (It also says something about the relative strength of a preempted show's ratings.) At 6:30 p.m., WCCO takes a pass on CBS's Cimarron Strip in favor of The Iron Man—not with Robert Downey Jr., but the 1951 movie starring Jeff Chandler, Evelyn Keyes, Stephen McNally, and Joyce Holden, in the story of a coal miner who becomes a boxer "and discovers that he has the instincts of a killer."  Meanwhile, KAUS in Austin wipes out a whole swath of ABC programming—The Second Hundred Years, The Flying Nun, Bewitched, and That Girl—to show the musical The Best Things in Life Are Free (6:30 p.m.), with Gordon MacRae, Dan Dailey, and Ernest Borgnine. At 9:00 p.m., KMSP zaps an ABC program of their own, the Time For Americans special "Bias and the Media," in which a panel of white media representatives responds to the charge of racial bias in their reporting, in favor of The Hollywood Palace, which they'd preempted Saturday to show A Certain Smile. I suspect these were better choices for viewers than reruns.

Friday rounds out the week with "The Apple," the Star Trek hippie episode featuring David Soul as one of the hippies (7:30 p.m., NBC). At 8:00 p.m. on CBS's Friday Night Movies, it's Susan Hayward in her Oscar-winning role in 1958's I Want to Live! Late night has Johnny Carson ending the first of a two-week stint in Hollywood, with guests Don Rickles and Phyllis Diller. (10:30 p.m., NBC) KMSP's 10:30 movie (which bumps Joey Bishop's show to Sunday night) is The Big Carnival, better known as Ace in the Hole, Billy Wilder's withering take on the way the press covers—and manufactures—the news, starring Kirk Douglas and Jan Sterling.

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Elsewhere, TV Teletype reports that Joan Rivers' new syndicated talk show should be premiering this fall (it did), and that Don Knotts will be returning to Mayberry, R.F.D. this fall as the best man for the wedding of Andy Taylor and Helen Crump (Aneta Corsaut, Andy Griffith's real-life inamorata).

The networks are scrambling to prepare for Pope Paul VI's trip to Colombia, says The Doan Report. The visit is scheduled for August, between the Republican convention in Miami Beach and the Democratic convention in Chicago. Thank heaven for small miracles; the first manned Apollo flight (Apollo 7), originally scheduled for August, has been rescheduled to September. If it hadn't been, says one network staffer, "I think we'd have jumped out the window."

And finally, we haven't featured a recipe for awhile, so since Hollywood Palace had a clambake this week, let's look at TV Guide's sure-fire formula for a clambake at the beach:

Dig a hole in the sand and line it with rocks. Build a kindling fire to heat the rocks to red hot. When hot, cover with wet piece of canvas and top with a layer of wet seaweed. Add scrubbed clams, allowing a dozen per person. Pull back husks on corn to remove silk, replace husks and dip corn in sea water. Allow 1 to 2 ears per person. Push corn into clams. Cover with a thick layer of seaweed. cover closely with another piece of canvas. Hold down the edge of the canvas with rocks to seal tightly. Steam 30 to 35 minutes or until clams open (the time varies with size and quantity of clams). Mix melted butter with lemon juice, ¼ cup lemon juice to each cup butter. When ready to serve, remove top canvas and seaweed. Give each person a portion of clams, an ear of corn, melted butter and lemon juice, a chunk of crusty French or Italian bread, and beer that has been cooled in a net in the ocean or a picnic cooler.

Top things off with icy slices of watermelon, cool bunches of green crapes, ripe peaches and plums. Toast marshmallows or slices of pound cake in the embers of the fire, and serve hot or iced coffee or tea.

As always, if anyone tries it out, let us know how it goes. TV  


  1. Herewith, a night-by-night of this week in Chicago (CDT):

    - Not much here, really.
    On Get Smart, John Byner's a KAOS mimic who impersonates LBJ and demotes the Chief; Byner's character name is Gorshen (I told you this wasn't much).

    - The FBI has Burt Reynolds (working for QM for the first time) as an on-the-run Mob Guy who's trying to stop a hit on his ex-wife.
    Burt was between toupees at the time; what hair he had was in a Julius Caesar/Zero Mostel-style combover - unforgettable in its way.
    - From the Old DVD Wall: Mission: Impossible is repeating this season's premiere, which marked Peter Graves's entrance as Jim Phelps - with no explanation whatever as to what became of The Other Guy … (That was Then.)

    Comedy Playhouse was a collection derived from Universal's inventory of the just-defunct Bob Hope Chrysler Theatre, one of several such (in other genres) that NBC pressed into summer service for a few years.
    - On the other hand, CBS's Premiere was a pilot collection, which I recall as not being bad at all - but that's several other stories …
    - Back to the DVD Wall:
    I Spy, circling the drain, had "This Guy Smith", a fairly good whodunit written by Jackson Gillis.
    - And a little earlier, The Felony Squad spotlighted John Fiedler as "Man On Fire", a meticulous arsonist; might have benefitted from an hour, but OK.

    - The short-lived Good Morning World has a showcase episode for Billy DeWolfe, who gets to recreate his old vaudeville/club act.

    - Showcase Time again:
    On He & She, Jack Cassidy takes over as his Jetman character gets his own Broadway musical, which goes wrong in various wonderful ways; funny show.
    - On Run For Your Life, Ben Gazzara gets the director's keys again, this time for a story about a stuffy state Governor with a paternity scandal in the offing.
    The Gov is John Forsythe, who at this time would have been surprising casting in a role like this.

    - Cimarron Strip has as guest stars Joseph Cotten (as a quack doctor), Jim Davis (as a the head of an outlaw family), and as one of the outlaw sons, Jonathan Lippe, who later became The Most Interesting Man In The World (I believe I mentioned this here before …).

    - Tarzan is repeating a two-parter which teamed up Maurice Evans (Sir Basil Bertram) and Julie Harris (Miss Charity Jones).
    "The soldier and the missionary" take on a nasty slave trader (and I'll leave it to you to check the listing to see who plays that part …).

    Standing down now; I'll see if I can find other things for tomorrow.

  2. How things all seem to tie together:

    The Teletype has an item about a Chris George pilot called "The Red Kitchen Murders", then in production.
    But ABC didn't get around to airing this one until 1970 -
    - by which time the title had changed to "House On Greenapple Road" (the title of the original novel) -
    - and when it finally got on, it got good notices and good numbers, so ABC belatedly wanted a series -
    - except that Chris George committed to a different series (ABC offered him his choice, and George took The Immortal) -
    - but Chris George recommended his pal Burt Reynolds (op cit.) to take the part of Dan August, a Quinn Martin Production -
    - but of course, in summer of '68, nobody knew any of this …

    Television - it's Fun!
    It's History!
    It's AMERICA!

    More later, maybe …

  3. The 1967 MLB All-Star game was held in Anaheim, California, and was a late-afternoon game which I believe began at 4 P.M. local time (making it a prime-time telecast in the Eastern and Central time zones).

    Thus, thanks to the time difference between the East and West Coasts, while the 1968 All-Star game was the first nighttime All-Star game in the television era, it was not the first All-Star game telecast in prime-time.


Thanks for writing! Drive safely!