August 31, 2019

This week in TV Guide: September 4, 1965

It's almost the start of a new television season, and while the Fall Preview issue isn't out until next week, we get plenty of hints in this issue as to what's in store.

In the front of the programming section, where specials and sports are usually listed, there's another category appearing this week called "Going Off." While some of these were just summer replacements (Summer Playhouse, Mondays, CBS), we're also talking about some pretty established programs here: Wagon Train, The Rogues, Wendy and Me, The Danny Thomas Show, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Joey Bishop Show, Tycoon, The Doctors and the Nurses, Jonny Quest, Password (the nighttime version), The Defenders, Kraft Suspense Theatre, International Showtime, The Jack Benny Program, Valentine's Day, The Jack Paar Program. 

Not to worry, though, for the networks aren't leaving us empty-handed. Alfred Hitchcock may be going, but in its place will be Run for Your Life. Tycoon is replaced by F Troop, Kraft Suspense Theatre makes room for The Dean Martin Show, and Valentine's Day leaves in favor of Honey West. Gidget and The Big Valley take over on Wednesdays for ABC, while Green Acres moves in next to The Dick Van Dyke Show. Lost in Space debuts, as does I Spy, Hogan's Heroes, and Get Smart, and we say hello to I Dream of Jeannie, The FBI, Branded, and My Mother the Car.  On Sunday afternoons the American Football League will debut on NBC after five years on ABC; the money that the network pours into the upstart league goes a long way towards forcing the NFL-AFL merger, after which, as they say, the rest is history. The 1965-66 season is, in fact, the first in television history in which more than half of the prime time lineup is being broadcast in color.

By the end of the following season there will be more departures: Rawhide, Mister Ed, The Donna Reed Show, Ben Casey, The Flintstones, The Addams Family, McHale's Navy, The Patty Duke Show, The Munsters, Perry Mason, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, My Favorite Martian, Dr. Kildare—all of them and more will be gone by the time the 1966-67 season debuts, though many of them will live in reruns to this day. Their replacements include Batman (in January), Star Trek, That Girl, The Time Tunnel, The Monkees, Family Affair, Mission: Impossible, Tarzan, The Green Hornet, and a couple of daytime stalwarts: The Hollywood Squares and Dark Shadows.

This really is quite a time in television history. There's no doubting that we're entered a transitory period, the changing of the guard, the start of what some call the Golden Age of the 1960s.  Over the course of the 1965-66 and 1966-67 seasons, many of the shows that carried television through the end of the 1950s and the first half of the 1960s will be gone; in their place we'll be watching some of the most best-known and best-loved shows ever, all of them in color. Not all of the shows are classics, naturally, nor did they have long runs; I haven't mentioned shows like Camp Runamuck, A Man Called Shenandoah, Mister Roberts, and The Trials of O'Brien. Some of these shows were forgettable, others were good but underappreciated.

What's exciting about it all is that we have no idea what's in store for us. Next week is Premiere Week, with—for the first time— all three networks introducing their new shows at the same time. It should be quite a week, especially in the pre-DVR era. At the very least, as the Editors say in "As We See It," it will be "informative and entertaining." And, maybe, just a little confusing.

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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 special guests are Rudolf Nureyev and Dame Margot Fonteyn of London's Royal Ballet Company. Also on the bill are Welsh recording star Petula Clark, comedian Alan King, the West Point Glee Club, comedienne Sue Carson, foot-juggler Yugo Garrido and the acrobatic Elwardos.

Hollywood Palace: Host Gene Barry introduces two actresses seldom seen on television: Bette Davis and Olivia de Haviland, who do "The Twilight Shore," a dramatic reading. Barry also greets comics Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks, who do a "2000-year-old man" sketch; U.s. Olympic Gold Medal winners; songstress Monique Van Vooren; comedian Ben Blue; musical clown Yonely; and the Backporch Majority, folk singers.

I'll say this: if Yugo Garrido is actually juggling feet, then there's no need to go any further; we already have a winner. What's that, you say? Oh, he juggles with his feet. Well, that means we'd better look at the rest of the lineup. Ed starts off with the great ballet team of Nureyev and Fonteyn, and when you throw in Petula Clark and Alan King it sounds like a sure thing, even without the juggling feet, er, foot juggler.

But then you look at Palace; Gene Barry, fresh from two seasons of Burke's Law, and two true legends of the screen in Bette Davis and Olivia de Haviland. Throw in the 2000-year-old-man sketch of Reiner and Brooks, and I think the polls are closed. It's close, but give the nod to Palace by the skin of Jimmy Durante's nose.

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. Throughout the 60s and early 70s, TV Guide's weekly 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. 

Since we're a week away from the start of the new season, Cleveland Amory warms up with a look at one of the stalwarts of the current season: The Lawrence Welk Show. They might not have been thinking of you and me when this show was created, Cleve says, "but they sure did think of a number of other people." Welk has been on the air for ten years now, and his popularity continues unabated, as much a part of our entertainment culture as his mangled English, for as Amory points out, "we do think that after 10 years it would be possible for him to say 'Good even-ing' without the hyphen, or even 'boys' and 'girls' without a double 's.'"

It's all true, as well as this inescapable fact: Lawrence Welk reruns continue to thrive on PBS, nearly 40 years after the show ended first-run syndication, if it is true that shows like this are being kept alive by our grandparents, it must also be said that those very same grandparents were teens themselves back in 1965, when they remarked that Lawrence Welk was being kept alive by their grandparents. How does something like this happen?

According to Amory, Welk's popularity is due in large part to the fact that "nowadays such a very large number of people are fed up to here with bands that play songs which have no melodies—not to mention singers who can't even talk the lyrics,let alone sing them—that Welk, who does even his orchestral numbers in such a way that everyone can recognize the tunes, seems like the last reassuring note in a world of dissonance." I think the same holds true today—certainly, the description of pop music does—and it's rather nice to be brought back to an era in which entertainers didn't take to Facebook and Twitter to engage in feuds with other entertainers, conducted mostly with language that isn't suitable for a family site like this. No, if someone like Frank Sinatra had a bone to pick, he'd do it the old-fashioned way: he'd walk over and slug someone. There's something oddly refreshing about that.

That's not to say that all new music is bad, just as not all new television is bad. And while I've never been what you'd call a Welk aficionado (I couldn't see what my grandparents saw in him), if you go back and watch some of his shows for a reason—his Christmas programs, for example—it's a rather pleasant way to spend an hour.

I can't escape this review without commenting on Amory's conclusion, though. He mentions the Lennon Sisters singing "Kentucky Babe" with new lyrics, replacing the verse "Lay yo' kinky woolly head on yo' mammy's breast,"with "Lay your little curly head on your mommy's breast." I'm not sure why the change was necessary: those original lyrics would fit right in with today's music scene, don't you think?

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And now, in the "Shape of Things to Come" segment of our program, a specifically local version of "For the Record" looks at what's in store for Twin Cities television, including the latest: color programming. As I mentioned earlier, this will be the first year in which a majority of network prime time programs are in color, and it's not just the networks that benefit from it; WTCN, Channel 11, the independent station in town, is the last to jump on the bandwagon, beginning its first season of colorcasting with "more than 20 hours per week of color programming." One of those color programs is a daytime variety series called The Magic of You, hosted by Regina Gleason and Byron Palmer, about which I can find nothing, based on an extensive internet search lasting at least (stops, checks watch) five minutes. The show was supposed to air weekday afternoons from 3:30 to 4:00, but when I check Channel 11's programming just a month later, on October 27, the station is showing Bachelor Father. Oh well; it could have changed its name, of course, but on the other hand, the show was supposed to include "topics presented by such guests as. . . topless swimsuit designer Rudi Gernreich." If he insisted on hosting a fashion show, that might have killed the whole thing right there.

KMSP, Channel 9, the ABC affiliate, offers 11 hours of local color programs each week, and color makes up over one-third of ABC's network shows. WCCO joins the "color bandwagon," with more than half of CBS's prime-time shows in color; KSTP, one of NBC's oldest affiliates, continues to be the "full color network," at least in prime-time. We take things like color TV for granted today; now it's 4K Ultra HD, a concept which probably would have gotten you locked up in 1965 for taking some kind of hallucinogenic. But I remember well what it was like during the color invasion, with new shows premiering in color, and old ones seeming to change overnight. In hindsight, I can see how much more effective shows like The Fugitive and Combat! were when broadcast in B&W, but back then there was no doubt that this was the way to go. It's kind of cool to go back and live those times again, even if it's just in a one-page article.

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A few years ago, I did an article for TVParty! about a series of drama specials being produced by the United Nations, and ever since I published that article I've continued to accumulate more and more information. I've learned so much, in fact, that I'm thinking about going back and revising the original, to add in the details that were missing in the first place, and if I ever do, it will be because I've finally been able to stop spending so much time looking for a job. That could, of course, mean that I'm now the world's most famous homeless television historian, in which case I might be in line for some aid from the UN myself. 

In any event, this week's addition to the canon is Once Upon a Tractor (Thursday, 7:00 p.m., ABC), the third of the four UN specials, and the only comedy. I don't generally associate the United Nations with comedy, unless I'm reading about some of the decisions they've made, but this is an exception. The story's set in a fictional European country, where a fictional farmer name Joe Turrel (Alan Bates) has his tractor conk out on him. He requests a new one from the government of this fictional country, but they're pouring more money into the defense budget, so it's no new tractor for you. Things get out of hand, as they do in wacky comedies, Turrel is accused of treason, and in desperation he appeals directly to the court of last resort, that bastion of justice, the United Nations. Presumably everyone lives happily ever after. As is the case with the other UN specials, this boasts an international all-star cast; in addition to Bates, Diane Cilento, Barbara Steele, Albert Dekker, Buddy Hackett, and Melvyn Douglas star.

I particularly like this idea of the UN as some kind of international Last Call for Help. Kids, the next time you get in trouble with mom or dad, try telling them that you're going to take your case to the United Nations, and see what kind of response you get. On the other hand, I probably shouldn't say that—the way things are going now, they might well side with the kids.

It's a good week for heavier fare; on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., NBC preempts its entire prime-time lineup for a 3½ hour American White Paper on "United States Foreign Policy," looking at our policy regarding confrontations with the Soviet Union, the emerging world, and China. In other words, pretty much the same thing as we'd see nowadays, only changing "Soviet Union" to "Russia." Chet Huntley and David Brinkley host the program, along with all of NBC's foreign correspondents. It's an important program, and probably quite informative, but you notice that NBC doesn't schedule it after Premiere Week.

Speaking as we are of Premiere Week, Don Adams hosts a special Monday night (6:30 p.m., NBC) offering a preview of NBC's new fall shows. If you've seen some of FredFlix's videos on the 1965-66 season, you'll see excerpts of this special, with Adams more or less in character as Maxwell Smart. And as long as we're discussing coming attractions, Today has one on Monday morning (7:00 a.m., NBC): New York Jets rookie quarterback Joe Namath, who'll be making his pro debut this coming weekend. Helps promote not only the league's new player, but the league's new TV network. Later, Monday night's Ben Casey (9:00 p.m., ABC) presents a story about a young stroke survivor struggling with her inability to communicate. The young woman is played by Pippa Scott; the character she is playing is based on her own mother, a stroke survivor; and the teleplay was written by Allan Scott, her father. That must have been a powerful experience for everyone involved.

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Finally, there's a humorous and very biting article by John Gregory Dunne (before he became "John Gregory Dunne," noted author and husband of Joan Didion) on Bonanza's Lorne Greene. Greene, it seems, is presently in East Reno, Nevada. Specifically, he's in the Circus Room at the Nugget, preparing his first nightclub appearance.

Dunne's article is cynical, as is typical for the time when TV Guide's writers have sharpened their celebrity profiles considerably, often presenting psychological studies of their subjects (see particularly Richard Gehman). The magazine had reached a point of circulation and influence where they no longer needed to be beholden to the industry through cushy puff pieces, and were therefore free to take more critical approaches to celebrity pieces.

Not part of his nightclub act
It's hard to take some of this seriously, not when Greene appears on stage and sings, "I'm an old cowhand / from TV Land / and my dapple gray / is a Chevrolet." Greene tells Dunne that his strategy is to transform himself subtly from the Ben Cartwright they see on TV to the Lorne Greene before them, but Dunne says that this reminds him more of Alexander Woollcott's description of an elaborately mannered actor: "Under his thin veneer, there's another thin veneer." Under the Ben Cartwright exterior, writes Dunne, "lies still another Ben Cartwright. Every gesture, every response seems to have been programmed on a computer under CARTWRIGHT, Old Ben." He quotes lines that Greene has used before the press repeatedly, on stage and in newspapers in many cities; he mentions the replica of the Ponderosa ranch house that he has had built as a home in Mesa, Arizona ("an exact duplicate of the one on the Paramount soundstages even in that it has a staircase leading nowhere"), and he takes a moment away from Greene to take an offhand swipe at Pernell Roberts, "who has finally wined his way off the show." Says Greene of Roberts, "He knew what he was getting into when he signed. Why not stay, make his million, then build a theater where he can play Tennessee Williams every night?"

What saves the article, in my opinion, is 1) I was never a big fan of Bonanza (although my grandparents were); and 2) I am a big fan of good writing. Dunne make be catty, but he's also showing the sharpness that will mark his writing career (as well as that of his brother, Dominick, but that's another story). And I think Lorne Greene was tough enough to survive; Bonanza continued until 1973, and then there was Battlestar Galactica, and hosting the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade with Betty White, and. . . well, somehow I don't think that nightclub act matters much. TV  


  1. Maybe it was my age in Fall 1965 (just turned 12) plus the fact we got our first color TV around the time of this Guide (because of the increase in color broadcasting), but the 1965 TV season was a significant benchmark in my life.

  2. Can't help but recall the SCTV episode, "Sweeps Week", where Lorne Greene (Eugene Levy) bellows the theme song to the '50s TV cartoon, "Pow Wow the Indian Boy" to a stunned camera crew.

  3. One minor correction for you to make, if possible. It comes under the section titled, "Shape of Things to Come". You begin the second paragraph with: "KSTP, Channel 9, the ABC affiliate....."

  4. This was also an important transition period for color telecasts. After NBC announced the previous spring its plans to present virtually all of its prime-time schedule (and daytime) in "Living Color" for the fall of '65 [billing themselves as "The Full Color Network"], CBS and ABC also decided to schedule about half of their shows in color that fall...because they discovered that tabulated "Nielsen" rating families who owned color sets watched more color programs than black and white ones. CBS was worried that NBC might overtake them as "the #1 network" because of their "Full Color" programming; at the end of the season, CBS remained #1, with six of their "Top Ten" programs in color {the only black and white program in that "Top Ten" list was ABC's "BEWITCHED").

  5. The story I heard about CBS going color was that in the 1964/65 TV season, NBC had finished a very narrow second to CBS in the prime-time ratings race, but in homes that had color-TV (Nielsen did publish such data), NBC was the run away leader since most of their programs in the 1964/65 season had been colorcast.

    Perhaps because his company's field-sequential color-TV system had once been approved by the FCC for commercial color telecasting (only to see that approval rescinded in favor of the NTSC color-TV system), CBS chairman Bill Paley was very reluctant to go into color. The story I heard was that it was second-in-command Frank Stanton who successfully convinced Paley to convert to color, telling the chairman that "If you convert to color, you're gonna stay number one. If you don't, NBC will eventually run away with the ratings race because the number of color-TV sets is about to mushroom".

    Stanton got Paley to agree to spend some $25 million or so to convert the network to full-color, the idea being that about half of CBS's prime-time lineup (and a couple of daytime shows) would be in color starting in 1965, with all of prime-time (except old movies) going color by the fall of 1966, and the entire program schedule (except for old movies and some sitcom reruns in daytime) going color in early 1967.

    With NBC and CBS fully committed to color, ABC had to follow suit. But it's my understanding that the costs to that network of converting to color (also about $25 million) ate-up all of that network's profits, resulting in a couple of years of financial losses.


Thanks for writing! Drive safely!