August 7, 2021

This week in TV Guide: August 7, 1965

Xou all know about my affection for Gene Barry's detective series Burke's Law. (If you don't, you haven't been reading very closely.) It was a stylish mix of humor and police drama, all done with tongue-in-cheek and twinkle-in-eye. But Burke's Law, as we know it, is now done. Starting this fall, the show's jumping on the secret agent bandwagon popularized by The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Amos Burke, Secret Agent retains Barry's suave style (and Rolls Royce) amidst a bevy of beauties, but the supporting cast that did so much to make Burke fun—Gary Conway, Regis Toomey, Leon Lontac and Eileen O'Neill—is long gone, never to be seen again.* And Amos Burke, Secret Agent will be gone before long itself; the reboot lasts a mere 17 episodes before the series bites the dust.

*Except for a cameo appearance by O'Neill as one of Burke's "secret agent" operatives. Though she doesn't play the Sergeant Ames character, I think it's significant that she's one of the few female operatives working with Burke in the new series who doesn't get killed.

According to the article by Peter Bogdanovich (!), network executives feel the Burke's Law format was getting stale, "running 'out of gas'." And despite the protestations of Tom McDermott, president of Four Star Productions that Amos Burke will not be a carbon copy of U.N.C.L.E.—"The last time I saw U.N.C.L.E., they looked like they were doing Burke's Law"—there's no doubt that the spy spoof has played a big role in the retool of Burke. It's a James Bond world now, and we're all just living in it.

Barry himself professes to be excited about the new format. "We made TV history," he says of the cameo-laden, sly humor of Burke, "and now the time is ripe to enlarge the format of the show." And to its credit, Amos Burke doesn't try to deny its past. As the season progresses, there are several references to Burke's previous career as the head of the L.A. homicide department, and Burke continues to drive his Rolls. In fact, Barry's sophistication, which everyone agrees was the major selling point of Burke, should have been tailor-made for a globe-trotting secret agent. But without the supporting cast of the previous two years, the spark just isn't there anymore. The shows are pleasant, but nowhere near as entertaining. Which once again proves that if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Besides Amos Burke, Secret Agent, the 1965-66 television season also sees the premieres of I Spy, The Wild Wild West, and Get Smart. They all go on to longer, more successful runs than Amos Burke. And when Gene Barry reprises the role of Amos Burke in 1994, it will be under the moniker of Burke's Law. As it should be.

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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..

Palace: Host Steve Lawrence inroduces Mickey Rooney and Bobby Van in a spoof of the movie "Bridge on the River Kwai"; operatic soprano Jean Fenn; the Backporch Majority, folk singers; choreographer-dancer Jack Cole; comic Gene Baylos; plate spinners Alberta and Rosita; the Gimma Brothers, novelty act; and 4-year-old drummer Poogie Bell.

Sullivan: Ed welcomes Steve Lawrence, Victor Borge, the rock 'n' rolling Dave Clark Five, comics Rowan and Martin, the Israeli Ballet, puppet Topo Gigio, the tap dancing Mattison Trio and John, a balancer.

As I typed these listings, I was thinking to myself that I really wanted go go with Palace this week because I like Steve Lawrence, but beyond Rooney and Van the lineup's pretty weak.  And then I come over to Sullivan and who do I see?  Steve Lawrence! As far as I remember, this is the first time we've had an act appear on both Palace and Sullivan the same week. Of course, it helps when both shows are in reruns. But Ed has more than Steve—try the very funny Borge, the occasionally funny Rowan and Martin, and the stylish Dave Clark Five. And if that isn't enough, you've got a puppet and a ballet company! No more calls, ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner—Sullivan takes it in a song.

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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 shows of the era. 

Before Daniel Boone was a big man, before Mr. Smith went to Washington, before Davy Crockett was king of the wild frontier, there was Fess Parker. And, according to Cleveland Amory, this is where the problem starts.

Don't get me wrong; like Amory, I like Fess Parker, both personally and as an actor. If he has not always been a great actor, or even a very good one, he has been a pleasant one, which can get you a long way with viewers, But, quite frankly, in this first season of Daniel Boone, Parker has a lot to fess up to. (Don't blame Amory; that one belongs to me.) Cleve has only two things to say about Parker's acting: "(1) He can keep up with the dialog. (2) He can out-act the Indians." When it comes to the acting, though, you can't blame Parker entirely: "[T]he only possible explanation for the dialog in this show is that it was written by writers who live in canyons—the echo techique whereby every question is asked and then reasked, answered and then reanswered." And over and over. As for the Indians, "they are fascinting in their inepitude. They play almost every scene as if someone had just told them they were not going to be paid after all." So bad are the actors playing the good guys, "one way we have found to enjoy it is to root for the bad guys, who are, at least sometimes, good actors." 

Believe me, I tried to find something good about Daniel Boone in this review, but the best I could do was an episode called "The Sisters O'Hannrahan," and, says Amory, that was good "if for no other reason because it at least had an idea for a plot." I can't really speak to the series myself; it was not a show I had any real interest in watching when I was growing up. I do know that Daniel Boone ran for six seasons and continues to be popular today. I also know that many series take awhile to get going, and the latter episodes bear only a passing resemblance to the initial ones. And finally, I know that Cleveland Amory doesn't always get it right; he is, after all, a curmudgeon. But if you enjoy someone who obviously takes great pleasure in the use of words, then this column, if not this show, is for you.

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Football? This early in August? Of course. The sporting landscape changes dramatically this week, with our usual summer fare of baseball, golf and bowling being joined on Sunday by the return of the American Football League as the Buffalo Bills and Boston Patriots face off in a pre-season tilt from Boston (1:00 p..m. CT, NBC). This is the first year of the AFL's new television contract with the network, which will give the AFL the necessary finances to launch the bidding war that ultimately results in the league's merger with the NFL.

Not to be outdone, CBS presents an NFL game opposite the AFL, but we're really talking apples and oranges here. The CBS offering (1:00 p.m.) is the Baltimore Colts inter-squad game, taped the previous night. The focus is on Baltimore's preparation for the regular season, in which they'll be out to avenge their 24-0 loss to the Cleveland Browns in the previous year's NFL championship game. In fact, it's Cleveland, not Baltimore, that makes it back to the title game, where they're waxed by my favorite team of the era, the Green Bay Packers, 23-12. Better that you should tune in a day earlier and catch their broadcast of the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles from Hershey, PA. (1:00 p.m., CBS)

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Kellam de Forest is my kind of guy. His research company regularly vetts scripts for accuracy and liability, and is on call to answer questions that producers and scriptwriters might have about, say, how to peel a pearl (The Richard Boone Show) or what day December 30, 2022 falls on (The Twilight Zone). And while some of these items may seem like they're not such a big dea—after all, anyone with an internet connection can tell you that 12/30/22 is a Thursday—others can be very important, not only for the show's accuracy, but its financial well-being.

For one thing, de Forest conducts a vigorous background check into character names that appear in scripts. This service would have been particularly advantageous had the producers of Dr. Kildare taken advantage of it. They're currently in the midst of a $5 million lawsuit because of a recent episode in which a fictional doctor stands accused of covering up a medical mistake that resulted in the death of a young child. Seems that there's a real doctor out there with the same last name, who didn't take kindly to having that name besmirched, whether the TV doc was fictional or not. Sending the script de Forest's way could have saved the producers a lot of grief, for a fraction of the cost.

De Forest and his staff
I first read about de Forest many years ago, in Marc Scott Zicree's Twilight Zone Companion, in which de Forest applied his trade to the 1963 episode "In Praise of Pip." Rod Serling's original script contained a reference to American military action in Laos, with Jack Klugman's son Pip dying in a place where "There isn't even a war there," but de Forest pointed out that the Geneva Treaty on the neutrality of Laos stipulated the removal of all foreign troops from the country. "The implication that the U.S. has troops fighting in Laos (even in The Twilight Zone) could be an embarrassment and might cause repercussions.," de Forest noted. "U.S. Special Forces are fighting ('in an advisory capacity') in South Vietnam. Suggest South Vietnam." That wasn't his only suggestion for the script. A line from Klugman states, "There isn't even a war there," but, wrote de Forest, "In South Vietnam it is common knowledge that there is a Civil War, but U.S. troops are not supposed to be fighting there. Suggest 'There isn't even supposed to be a war there.'"

It's a fascinating line of work, at least to me. De Forest sits in his office, surrounded by a library of over 5,000 books "run[ning] the gamut from "The History of Orgies" to Dr. Spock's 'Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care.'" A script comes in, from an episode of Profiles in Courage set in the late 1800's. Among 54 research points, de Forest issues recommendations regarding the phrases "Little old bird dog, that's me" ("the term 'bird dog,' referring to one who hunts and finds objects, didn't come into use until circa 1930") and "to take in a water cooler around the bend in the corridor" ("the modern cooler was invented about 1910, though there were can-top coolers earlier"). Another Profiles script called for a scene of "great shouting and commotion" at the 1924 Democratic National Convention.  De Forest, on his own, added "The 'official' record indicates specific cries of 'soak it to them, boys, soak it to them.'"

In years to come, de Forest would continue to prove his worth to various producers, often through his name-checking. For instance, Archie Bunker was originally named "Wally" Bunker, until de Forest discovered there was already a "Wally Bunker" living in Queens. Wally quickly became Archie—the name Norman Lear wanted in the first place. Very cool, don't you think? He also did key research and technical advise for the original Star Trek; he was responsible for the stardate format by suggesting that the writers use the Julilan rather than the Gregorian calendar. (It would "not only be more precise, but more futuristic.") Kellam de Forest died in January of this year, at age 94, supposedly of Wuhan.

I don't have a Kellam de Forest Research Services at hand for my use, although the resources of the internet probably provide me with more data than de Forest could have dreamt of. It's knowing how to use the research that counts. And when it comes to storytelling, it's the details—putting a war in South Vietnam instead of Laos, or taking care to avoid historical anachronisms—that can make all the difference. 

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Some quick programming hits for the week:

Saturday, as we noted, is the return of exhibition football on CBS. That night, Al Hirt, summer replacement for Jackie Gleason (and beneficiary of a feature article elsewhere in this issue), features a pretty good middlebrow lineup, with satirist Stan Freberg (one of the funniest men in radio or television), Met Opera soprano Anna Moffo , ballet dancers Edward Villella and Patricia McBride, pop singer Dionne Warwick, rockers Chad and Jeremy, harpist Robert Maxwell and jazz pianist Willie Smith. (6:30 p.m., CBS) And then, of course, there's Al's trumpet. Pretty good lineup; to be honest, it might top Ed and Palace this week.

Sunday is public affairs day, starting with Lamp Unto My Feet (9:00 a.m., CBS). This week's topic is "Reunification of Mankind," featuring historians Arnold Toynbee and William McNeil, and the question is "Can religion help man adjust to rapid and profound social, political and technological change?" I cannot possibly imagine a more prescient topic today, given that we live in a world of profound social, political and technological change that's pretty much rendered our society a shambles, precisely because of a decline (for whatever reasons) in religious belief. This is just what Toynbee's concerned with, given his view of religion as "a powervul force in shaping man's responses to human and environmental changes." 

Later, the public affairs program ABC Scope commemorates the 20th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. (Noon, ABC) We hear about this on an almost annual basis around this time of year, but in 1965 it was still pretty fresh in people's minds. Correspondent Lou Cioffi (incorrectly identified as Gioffi in this issue) reports on how the city has changed since then; I wonder how much discussion concerned the use of the bomb in the first place? I'm always interested in intense conversations about this today, conducted mostly by people who weren't alive then and have little feeling for the context and climate in which the decision was made.

Monday's rerun of Andy Williams (8:00 p.m., NBC) features an odd pairing of guests: Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, and Jonathan Winters. "In a circus spot, Roy demonstrates his marksmanship and Jonathan portrays a lion tamer." On the other hand, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (7:00 p.m., NBC), which is coming to camp mode by this time, has a story about "a strange disease [that] killed the entire population of a small English coastal village—by afflicting the inhabitants with old age." With a couple of tweaks, that could almost be The Andromeda Strain, couldn't it?

We're seeing the summer season wind down, and with it the shows that won't be returning in the fall. NBC has a pair on TuesdayMoment of Fear (7:30 p.m.), which is showing an episode that originally came from G.E. Theater in 1959, and Cloak of Mystery (8:00 p.m.), which shows a failed pilot episode. Hullabaloo, also on NBC, will be back next summer, but it ends this year's run with a show hosted by Frankie Avalon, with Barbara McNair, Joanie Sommers, the Supremes, Peter and Gordon, the Byrds, and Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs. (9:00 p.m.)

Wednesday: It's Our Private World, the first prime-time program spun off from a daytime soap, in this case As the World Turns. (You'll remember Cleveland Amory reviewing this a few issues ago.) It airs twice weekly, on Wednesdays and Fridays (at 8:30 and 8:00 p.m., respectively), and stars the legendary soap actress Eileen Fulton in her ATWT role of Lisa Miller Hughes. It would have been interesting had this show taken, to have a bifurcated story universe running in both daytime and nightime; that is, even though the shows (and storylines) are separate, the participants inhabit the same universe. Alas, the show, which started in May, only makes it through to September and the beginning of the fall season.

On Thursday, the Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees wrap up a series at Yankee Stadium (7:00 p.m., WTCN, KCMT, WDSM, KROC). It's an informal changing of the guard; the Twins, who were mostly miserable as the Washington Senators, are headed for the American League pennant in 1965, as part of a run that includes a second-place finish in 1967 and West Division titles in 1969 and 1970. For the Yankees, on the other hand, it's the Twilight of the Gods: American League champions for the last five years and 22 of the last 29, the Yanks are headed for a sixth-place finish in 1965, followed by a total collapse into the cellar in 1966. They won't make it back to the World Series for another decade.

Finally, what would Friday be without a beauty pageant, or "Beauty Spectacular," as the listings put it? It's the 14th annual International Beauty Pageant, live from Long Beach, California. (9:00 p.m., NBC) John Forsythe is the host, with an all-star panel (well, kind of) of judges including actress Virginia Mayo, pin-up illustrator Alberto Vargas, and Tom Kelley, the fashion photographer, who took a very famous photo of Marilyn Monroe against a red background which we probably, ah, shouldn't link to here.

Interestingly enough, this lesser-known pageant is still around (although last year's pageant was cancelled due to Wuhan), and is one of the few that doesn't judge solely on looks. Its "contestants are expected to serve as 'Ambassadors of Peace and Beauty', demonstrating tenderness, benevolence, friendship, beauty, intelligence, ability to take action, and, most importantly, a great international sensibility. The ultimate goal of the Miss International beauty pageant is to promote world peace, goodwill, and understanding."

In other words, just like this blog, right? TV  


  1. A great take on Kellam de Forest who may be responsible for the boilerplate declaration, "This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental."

    Those of us who love classic TV have to appreciate de Forests's work. And, of course, Dr Richard Kimble was not a fictional version of Dr Sam Shepard.....

  2. I liked BURKE'S LAW when I saw it on MeTV years ago, and I wish it would come back.

    Actually, Dec. 30, 2022, will fall on a Friday, not Thursday, but Dec. 30 this year will fall on a Thursday. The article got this right and had a cute phrase about the knowledge of this: "for those who should live so long". I hope everyone reading now can be around for Dec. 30, 2022 and long past then. :) I loved how TZ usually got monthly calendars right, showing an accurate calendar for Sept. 1961 in "100 Yards Over the Rim" (actually I'm sure 1961 calendars were in great supply then) and a bit more impressively a correct calendar for May 1962 in "The Silence" when it was a year in the future. In the 1963 episode "Steel" TZ also had a correct calendar for Aug. 1974, which maybe not so coincidentally (in the choice of a future year) had the same calendar as Aug. 1963. Before the Internet past & future calendars could be found in almanacs like the one published by READER'S DIGEST. TZ did make 1 day to date goof in the 1960 episode "Long Live Walter Jameson", putting Sept. 11, 1864 on a Tuesday instead of a Sunday, when it actually fell. The "Goofs" section of the episode's IMDB entry mentions this.

    1. The Man from UNCLE was in its first season. It doesn’t get campy until the third.

  3. Replies
    1. You should have said "Wuhan." Proper noun, you know.


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