June 15, 2022

What's old is new again

The other night we were watching a YouTube video of ABC's 1968 summer schedule, with the openings to all of their shows, and a programming grid at the end. You know the kind, right? We'd seen this one before, as we have with most of them; it's the type of video that's easy to have on in the background, without having to concentrate too much or take your eyes off what else you might be doing. Like having dessert, for instance, which just happens to be what we were doing at the time.

At some point in the proceedings, though, my wife turned to me and said, "Look at how many of these shows we've got. We've seen most of them!" I started thinking about that, not only the ones we've got on DVD, but those we've started watching on various YouTube channels. It occurs to me that the 1968 season must be close to the tipping point at which a majority of TV series still exist, either on DVD, the gray market, or through YouTube. It would certainly be a contender for the 1960s season having the most shows; the Golden Age of DVD releases was very kind to this era. (Going to all-color programming didn't hurt, either.)

I'm also intrigued by how many of those series are from ABC. I'm sure if we were looking at an NBC or CBS video, we'd find the same thing. But you wouldn't necessarily think that so many of these shows from the perennial third-place network still exist. Or maybe you would; someone—it might have been a comment someone left here—once mentioned that because ABC had nothing to lose, they took more chances creating new and different shows than did the other two networks. True, that includes shows like The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game, but as we all know, different does not necessarily equate to better.

At any rate, I've taken a screenshot of the schedule from the end of the video (don't worry; you'll get to see the video)—look at how many of these shows we could be watching right now:

In our own DVD collection, we've got The FBI, The Rat Patrol, N.Y.P.D., The Avengers, Man in a Suitcase, and The Guns of Will Sonnett. Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Big Valley, It Takes a Thief, The Invaders, The Flying Nun, Bewitched, That Girl, and at least some of Peyton Place have gotten commercial releases. The complete (or nearly complete) Garrison's Gorillas, Judd, for the Defense and Felony Squad are on YouTube, along with nearly 150 episodes of The Lawrence Welk Show (plus those you can catch on PBS), at least 75 episodes of The Hollywood Palace, 16 (at least) out of 26 episodes of The Second Hundred Years, and a few from Cowboy in Africa, the Newlywed and Dating Games. You can even find an episode of Dream House! And I suspect many of the movies that aired on Sunday and Wednesday nights, as well as on Off to See the Wizard, are available. (We've watched nine of them on a regular basis.) 

All in all, I figure there are 17 series (out of 25, not including the movie shows) that are complete or nearly so, plus four that have a high number of episodes available. Only the three game shows and Cowboy in Africa are significantly less than complete. No matter how you look at it, that's a pretty high percentage, especially when you're talking about shows that were on 54 years ago. In fact, you've got an excellent chance of being able to reproduce any given week from this schedule in its entirety. That is impressive. And since 1968 is a year of particular interest for me, you can see why I appreciate this.

Here's the video in question; undoubtedly, I'll do the same with CBS and NBC someday.


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Thanks for writing! Drive safely!