August 14, 2021

This week in TV Guide: August 12, 1967

There are times when, as a cultural archaeologist, you just shake your head at your good fortune. Take this week's opening story, written by Michael Fessier, Jr., who takes us backstage at what those Dating Game weekends are really like, by following a young couple who'd been paired up on a recent program. 

Our celebrity bachelor is a guy named Mike Reagan, 22, whose father happens to be governor of California. He's rather unpolitical in real life, but in time, he'll become a radio talk show host and political commentator; a chip off the old Gipper, so to speak. His date is 20-year-old starlet Sheryl Ullman, who stars in a bunch of Elvis Presley movies and winds up as one of Dean Martin's Golddiggers. Sheryl chose Mike from a panel of three bachelors, the other two being actor Sal Mineo and UCLA football star Norman Dow. Their reward is a fabulous weekend in beautiful Victoria, British Columbia. 

Fessier wants to learn more about how all this works, so he stops by Chuck Barris Productions—you knew, of course, that Barris had to be part of this somehow. The boss, unfortunately, is busy, so Fessier winds up talking with Mike Hill, the executive responsible for planning the Dating Game trips. Now, it's my theory—based on Barris's later claim that those trips to exotic international locations were just cover for his other job as a CIA assassin—that he's unavailable because he's over in Southeast Asia somewhere, but there's nothing in Fessier's article to substantiate this, unless Barris somehow gets to him later on.

Mike and Sheryl spend much of their time posing for photos—"One more in color," "One more in black and white"—before heading out for a Saturday night on the town: specifically, as guests of honor at a dinner dance being held by their home for the weekend, the Empress Hotel. They dance a bit ("the only ones on the floor") to music that's described as "pre-Guy Lombardo." The next day there's a visit to the wax museaum, followed by dinner at the Oak Bay Marina. This is breathlessly reported on the radio (Victoria is a place "hungry for even a whiff of glamor"), but what they didn't report as that the couple "returned to their suite, watched an old Brian Donleavy movie on television and retired to their separate chambers." This is different from The Bachelor, isn't it?

On the trip home Monday, Mike muses about his date. "She'll probably marry some millionaire who'll make me a star," he says. "I guess she thinks I'm some kind of nice boy or something." For Sheryl's part, she finally kicks loose at the wrap party, "high-kicking and free as a bird." "I really enjoy life," she says.

Alas, there's to be no storybook ending. Of Sheryl, Mike says, "I dig her and I don't dig her," while Sheryl vows the first thing she'll  do when she returns home is "call my agent."

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While The Hollywood Palace is on summer break, ABC fills 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:  Ed's guest in this rerun are actors Eddie Albert and Carroll Baker; comedians Allan Sherman, Pat Cooper and Stiller and Meara; singers Sergio Franchi, the Four Tops, and the Kessler Twins; the Suzuki Violins; and trampolinist Dick Albers.

Piccadilly:  British comedians Morecambe and Wise are the permanent hosts of Piccadilly Palace, so by definition there's a limited guest lineup, but this week it is pianist Peter Nero and the rockin' Tremeloes. Singer Millicent Martin is part of the permanent cast.

Well, this really does bring into focus what it means when you're talking about the dog days of summer. There may have been individual bits and pieces of Piccadilly Palace that stood out, but on sheer volume Ed has the edge. Allan Sherman, Stiller and Meara, the Four Tops, Sergio Franchi. I don't know about you, but I'll take Sullivan by majority decision.

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I don't know if Cleveland Amsory ever spent a day of his life fishing. Maybe when he was a kid, but I've always assumed that he was born full-grown, with a pipe in his mouth and a pen between his finters. At any rate, everyone has to to on vacation sometime, so let's assume that wherever he is this week, he's having a good time. 

Usually when Cleve is out, we just skip the week's review, but this week I'm making an exception, as guest reviewer Burt Prelutsky takes a look at one of the great cult classic shows in summer replacement history, Coronet Blue. The show's cult was, I think, based primarily on its being an enigma, in more than one way: first, the hero, Michael Alden (Frank Converse), doesn't know who he is, and doesn't know why someone wants him dead. All he knows is that when he was rescued, half-dead, from drowning in New York harbor, he was mumbling the words, "Coronet Blue." Second, the show, which took two years to make it to television, ended without the mystery ever being resolved; it became a surprise hit during the summer, but by that time it was impossible to reunite the cast to continue the story. 

We may not know what "Coronet Blue" means, but we do know what Burt Prelutsky thinks about Coronet Blue: it is, he writes, "pretentious, boring and badly written." Of Alden's quixotic quest for his past, which drives the action each week, he says, "Go on he does—into one of the prize cockamamic shows of all time. There were enough hokey subplots an dcliche characters in that first 60-minute episode to keep most TV series running for a dozen years." And of Converse's performance as Alden, [he] does a lot of dopy things with his eyes that are supposed to denote, I suspect, the desperate plight of a man in search of his identity. It doesn't quite come off that way. What it really looks like, to tell you the truth, is like an actor doing a lot of dopey things with his eyes." 

At least we're not left guessing what Burt thinks. Thing is, having bought the series when it came out on DVD a couple of years ago, I'm in substantial agreement with much of what he says. Now, I'm willing to accept the amnesia premise—as dramatic devices go, it's got possibilities. Some of the stories, particularly as the series went on, were among the best the show had to offer. And I thought that the supporting characters, especially his friend Max (played by Joe Silver), were quite good. But I'm all in on his assessment of Converse—I liked him a lot as a tough detective in N.Y.P.D., and Michael Alden could have used some of that edge to his personality, as opposed to merely throwing punches without really knowing who he's striking out at. 

Coronet Blue's biggest problem, in the end analysis, is that it's not The Bourne Identity, which took a similar premise and ran with it at such high velocity that you didn't have time to look for any inconsistencies. And Frank Converse isn't Matt Damon, whose Jason Bourne had more edges to him than Gillette, and was too busy trying to stay alive to make cow eyes at sympathetic women. I liked Coronet Blue more than Prelutsky does, but it's a series that could have been so much better than it was. And wasted potential is something you just can't forget.

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It doesn't seem possible, but American Bandstand celebrates it's 10th anniverary on Saturday with the second of a two-part show featuring the Mamas and the Papas and the Supremes, while Dick Clark talks about how the music scene has changed during the decade and interviews former Bandstanders. (12:30 p.m. CT, ABC) Over on NBC, the baseball Game of the Week continues coverage of the torrid American League pennant race with three of the four contenders: most of the country gets the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins, but in Minneapolis the home team blackout means we're getting the Baltimore Orioles (the odd team out) visiting the Detroit Tigers (1:00 p.m.) And on Critics Award Theater (11:30 p.m, WCCO), it's a movie that asks the same question I've been asking about this website for years: How to Be Very, Very Popular

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King is the guest on Sunday's Meet the Press (1:30 p.m., NBC), and later in the afternoon an NBC News Special called "The Documentaries of Ted Yates" (5:00 p.m.) looks at the work of one of television's finest journalists; Yates was killed in June while covering the Six Day War. His widow, Mary, would later marry Mike Wallace. On a lighter note, Rich Litle is on Candid Camera (9:00 p.m., CBS), pranking a secretary by impersonating famous men on the phone.

On Monday Martha Raye begins a week-long stint as Mike Douglas's guest host (4:00 p.m., WCCO). Mike is this week's cover story, and Patrick Walsh says of him, "Talk is [his] stock in trade—and millions of housewives are eager to buy." Nowadays we think of daytime talk as consisting of self-help, celebrity puff pieces, armchair psychoanalysis, or cooking tips, but Mike Douglas was a real talk show host whose show ran in syndication from 1961 to 1982. Unlike other daytime hosts (Merv Griffin, Dick Cavett), Mike never made the move to prime time, being content to provide easy-going, middle of the road entertainment to an older, mostly female audience. And that's what's most interesting about this article, the emphasis on "housewives" and "grannies" who can't get enough of Douglas' "wholesome as whole-wheat soda bread" show, even though he had his share of controversial guests (Dick Gregory, Stokley Carmichael). How the culture has changed since then.

Get up early Tuesday morning to watch Today, (7:00 p.m., NBC) as guest host Burgess Meredith interviews Star Trek stars William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. This evening, The Fugitive airs its last rerun before the two-part series finale that results in the exoneration of Dr. Richard Kimble and the apprehension of the One-Armed Man (9:00 p.m,. ABC). I've read that the final episode aired in August because the decision to end the series was made too late in the season to have the story ready an earlier; nonetheless, as far as I know, except for shows that went off the air immediately after their finale, no other series has done this, and I don't know why. Not only was it extremely effective, there was little competition from the other two networks. As you can see, the anticipation is building.

Wednesday is probably the most enjoyable night of the week; on part one of the latest Batman adventure (6:30 p.m., ABC), the villainous Catworman (Julie Newmar version) plans to steal the voices of British rockers Chad and Jeremy, playing themselves. Eddie Albert and Eva Gavor play dual roles on Green Acres (8:00 p.m., CBS), showing how their ancestors once crossed paths. Boris Karloff is the guest star of what must have been a fun episode of I Spy (9:00 p.m., NBC), playing a scientist working on an anti-missile system, who gets caught up in Quixotic escapades.

On Thursday night ABC's Summer Focus takes a look at the 1968 presidential contenders. It's easy to look at these shows in retrospect and make fun of them, but if the show was anything like the write-up for it, it proved to be remarkably prescient. For the Democrats, "the man is President Johnson. If he bows out, look for a bitter fight on the convention floor." As I say, you couldn't get more right than that, although I'm not sure they intended for the Democrats to take the word "fight" literally. As for the Republicans, the close-up quite accurately identifies Nixon as the front-runner, although "he must enter the primaries to prove that he is still a vote-getter," and Mike Reagan's father as a "fast-rising GOP star." They speculate on Nelson Rockefeller as a candidate who could win a deadlocked convention. (He would, in fact, finish second to Nixon, and just ahead of Reagan.) And yet, for all that, it barely scratches the surface of 1968.

, Jimmy Stewart is the host for a visit to the World Boy Scout Jamboree (8:00 p.m., ABC) held earlier this month at Farragut State Park in Idaho. For music fans, the highlight is an NET special on Duke Ellington (10:00 p.m.), featuring the Duke at the Monteray Jazz Festival, and including interviews with Earl "Fatha" Hines and Jon Hendricks.

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There's a short bit in The Doan Report about the networks taking yet another look at prime-time news programs, this time the idea of a show that would fill the last half-hour of the night's schedule. These kinds of ideas come up all the time; it seems as if there was never an era when there wasn't serious discussion about prime-time evening news, most of the time involving the perennially ratings-challenged ABC, but this one specifically mentions NBC as the network most likely to check it out, with the others to follow if it's a success. It isn't, and they don't.

There's also a note, kind of cynical if you ask me, about how audiences are more likely to watch a taped drama such as Death of a Salesman, which recently scored big ratings on CBS, if they think they're watching a movie. ABC plans to capitalize on this "misunderstanding," as all ten of their upcoming dramas are remakes of well-known movies such as Dial M for Murder. Their plan is to advertise them not as they'd originally intended, with the title A Night at the Theater, but simply as a special presentation. Imagine a television network trying to trick its viewers into thinking they're seeing something other that what's actually on. I'm shocked, shocked, at the thought.

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Finally, I don't know if I've ever written about That Girl, the series with Marlo Thomas, but this Thursday's episode gives us a real cultural snapshot. From the listings: "No matter how you add it up, Ann and boy friend Don face a delicate situation: They're stranded with newlyweds in a hotel—that has only two vacant rooms." It's clear what the dilemma for Ann and Don is: they can't share a room because they're not married, but if the two men take one room and the two women the other, they'll be separating the newlyweds, something the other couple wants no part of. This is interesting for so many reasons: first, the idea of an unmarried couple sharing a hotel room is nothing today—hell, probably most of the couples in hotels aren't married—or at least not to each other. Thing is (and I'll admit I haven't seen the episode, so this could be a moot point), this very type of scenario (unmarried couple sharing hotel room) has been a stalwart of the screwball comedy for decades. You can hang a bedsheet down the middle of the room, you can have the guy sleep on the floor, etc. etc. In other words, there's a myriad number of ways they could handle this. I wonder which ones they used?

For sure, you wouldn't see this dilemma on TV today. TV  


  1. Meh. Who needs Stammerin' Stewart hosting the World Boy Scout Jamboree? Fred Flintstone did it first, and better.

  2. The hotel didn't have a rollaway bed for Don they could tuck somewhere?


  3. Even if "Coronet Blue" couldn't have continued as a series, couldn't the cast and crew have been reunited for three or four weeks' work on a made-for-TV movie that could have wrapped up the saga?


Thanks for writing! Drive safely!