November 18, 2023

This week in TV Guide: November 18, 1967

Thanks to a typographical error, you almost wound up with another issue this week, which would have been disastrous. Fortunately, however, disaster was averted, which means we're on to another great Thanksgiving issue! Thanksgiving in 1967 was, as it is this year, on November 23, which means this should be a great lead-in to one of the best days of the year. 

Not everyone shares my opinion on Thanksgiving. For some, such a family get-together is a source of dread greater than a turkey watching the farmer sharpening his ax . If you live in such a family, you have my sympathies—you indeed have less to be thankful for than some of us. But if you're looking for a solution to such problems, perhaps you just need to read what Stanley Frank has to say, because he can show you how television makes your Thanksgiving Day better than ever.

The TV Guide writer knows what such family gatherings can be like; the motley collection of relatives, the "opinionated loudmouth determined to impress one and all with his garbled misinformation, the in-laws and the "incessant yakking and bragging of birdbrains on her side of the family who make more money than I do," and the like. The secret, Frank has discovered, is to "create a community of interest that will keep them from each others' throats." And the way that you do that is by turning on the television.

"The incontrovertible truth," he says, "is that TV is the greatest boon to family harmony since the introduction of the second bathroom, and a vigorous defense of this marvelous force for domestic tranquility is long overdue. I mean the rapport TV has brought to family gatherings, especially during the holiday season that is rapidly approaching like a thundercloud." Frank even took the precaution of renting a portable color set to augment his regular black-and-white set. By making sure there's television for everyone, "it unites them in criticism of the show they’re watching. Their hostility is diverted from the host to the performers on the screen." 

Now, if that isn't a recommendation, I don't know what one is. 

True, there are some dangers involved in using TV as such a buffer. "The networks competing for the home audience are loading holiday schedules with so many morning attractions that people come early and turn a dinner invitation into an all-day chomping and guzzling marathon." Last year's specials began at 10:00 a.m. with the dual parade telecasts on NBC and CBS, which, in the Frank household, meant "coffee, Danish, eggs and booze, in reverse order of preference." Then came the football, beginning at 11:00 a.m. with the Detroit Lions and their annual clash. They say the early start is meant to give fans a chance to get home in time for Thanksgiving dinner, but in reality, it's "designed to give freeloaders an early start on heartburn." On balance, however, "the emotional wear and tear saved by TV more than compensates for the extra cost." For instance, the youngsters were drawn to Treasure Island on the second set, which started at 1:30; they were so enthralled "they refused to come to the table." That was a plus.

Further benefits came at 3:00 p.m, with two games on the air, a pro game on NBC and a college tilt on ABC. "It is unclear how the myth originated, but it is an enduring fallacy of American folklore that after overeating at family dinners everyone is in a torpor broken only by gentle burping." The truth is that before television, after-dinner conversation consisted of  "a relentless torrent of such pompous nonsense that even the nitwits could not let it pass unchallenged. One word led to another and the situation deteriorated into a free-for-all of abusive name-calling." But with two games on simultaneously, "guests were so confused shuttling between the two sets to catch both games that they forgot to repay old favors with contempt." 

And now, for dessert, so to speak: the men voted to continue with the Dallas-Cleveland game at 6:00 p.m. In the past, "wives, tired of yelling at their rotten kids and resentful of the fun the men were having, always turned on their husbands and demanded to go home while they, the husbands, were in condition to drive." But the second TV enabled them to tune in to Divorce Italian Style, with Marcello Mastroianni. "The ladies blissfully watched Mastroianni and the gents happily watched Danny Villanueva kick four field goals to win the game for Dallas." That was followed by the CBS Thursday Night Movie, which happened to be Jason and the Argonauts, "a gem of a horror that cleared the joint with occasional groans and retching noises from me. As I said, TV is a wonderful instrument for serenity."

So the moral of the story is that if you're dreading this year's family gathering, try television. It may seem counterintuitive to those who've grown up hearing how TV turns us all into couch potatoes, but trust Stanley Frank: "The family that watches television together stays together." Especially at Thanksgiving.

And by the way, if you're wondering what's TV has to offer on Thanksgiving Day, 1967, tune in on Monday; as I've done in the past, Monday's listings will be from Thanksgiving, and I'll have all the details on parades, football, and more! But even without it, there's a lot to watch this week, as you'll soon find out.

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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. 

A few years ago, Cleveland Amory described Raymond Burr's performance as Perry Mason as "too businessmanish." The great man is now ready for two large helpings of crow, for Burr's performance in NBC's Ironside is, in a word, "magnificent." "Playing San Francisco police detective Robert Ironside, a man confined to a wheel chair, he is, in character range, far from confined, and with the same ease with which he manipulates his chair he moves from fury to fun and from cynical curmudgeon to philosophical elder statesman." 

But don't think that the producers have left Burr to do all the heavy lifting himself; they've surrounded him with a strong supporting cast: Don Galloway as Detective Sergeant Ed Brown and Barbara Anderson as policewoman Eve Whitfield; both of them seem to be impossibly good-looking, but you soon discover that they're both very good at their jobs, and "as taut and exciting as the boss." And you might think that Don Mitchell, as Ironside's aide Mark Sanger, is "in the show merely for the sake of being," but you'll quickly find that "his performance is both different and convincing." All in all, Cleve writes, credit show creator Collier Young for "bringing exciting originality to a tired field."

So far the episodes have generally been excellent, with top-notch guest stars. One such show, featuring John Saxon and Don Stroud as a pair of escaped killers, culminated in "as exciting a scene as we've seen this year." Ironside is rarely mentioned in the pantheon of classic programs from the 1960s and 70s, yet it has a legacy that continues to this day; it was spoofed and parodied by the shows of its time (always affectionately), and Quentin Tarantino used a sample from the Ironside theme in the Kill Bill movies. You might recall a while back I featured several guest pieces on Ironside from Stephen Taylor, and his reviews were often as positive as Amory's. For me, Raymond Burr will always be Perry Mason, but I imagine that for others, he's remembered first as Robert Ironside. Either way, it's a testament to the man, his supporting cast, and those behind the scenes, that he's remembered for not one but two long-running successes.

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On the topic of football, I'll admit to being puzzled by this description of Saturday's game between UCLA and USC (1:30 p.m., ABC). According to the listings, the teams may be playing for "the highest stakes ever in a college game." Now, it's true that this is a very big game; UCLA is undefeated and ranked #1 in the country, while once-beaten USC is ranked #4; the winner of the game will go to the Rose Bowl; and the teams' best players (quarterback Gary Beban of UCLA and running back O.J. Simpson of USC) are the two favorites to win the Heisman Trophy as player of the year. There's also the unofficial championship of Los Angeles on the line.

And yet: "the highest stakes ever"? You'll pardon the confusion, but it was almost one year ago to the day (November 19) that Notre Dame played Michigan State in what was being called the "Game of the Century." Notre Dame was undefeated and ranked #1, while Michigan State was undefeated and ranked #2. And while it's true that neither team could go to a bowl game (Michigan State was ineligible, having gone to the Rose Bowl the previous season, while Notre Dame didn't play in bowls at the time), the stakes were much higher: the national championship, which would undoubtedly go to the winner of the game. The number of press credentials issued for the game was higher than for any game ever played at the time (and would go on to include the first few Super Bowls), and an unprecedented demand to watch the game led ABC to tape-delay it to any part of the country that didn't get to see it live. (It also had the largest audience ever to see a college football game on TV.) As I wrote about here, the game changed college football forever, and as big a game as USC-UCLA was, I can't countenance putting it in quite the same category.*

*For the record, Notre Dame and Michigan State tied 10-10, giving Notre Dame the national championship. In a game that was nearly as close, USC defeated UCLA 21-20, on the strength of a missed extra-point.

The highest stakes ever? Granted, it's true that memories are short; there would be another, and better-remembered, Game of the Century played in 1971 between Nebraska and Oklahoma, but I'd have thought the memory would have lasted at least a year.

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There's more to Saturday than football, though. There are, for example, two absolutely powerhouse movies on in the late night slot. At 10:30 p.m. on KGO, it's the unforgettable Hitchcock shocker Psycho, with Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh. An hour later, on KPIX, it's "the most powerful film yet on TV," The Pawnbroker, starring Rod Steiger. To have two great movies like these on local television—well, that's what TV used to be like. And to have them on at nearly the same time is what VCRs were made for. But there's more! Earlier in the evening, KOVR is showing The Magnificent Seven (6:30 p.m.), with a magnificent cast headed by Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, and Eli Wallach. What a night for classic movie lovers—and you didn't even need TCM to achieve it. 

On Sunday, Debbie Reynolds features in her first special, "And Debbie Makes Six!" (8:00 p.m., ABC), with five fabulous guest stars: Bob Hope (confirming my suspicion that Hope appears in every variety special that's ever appeared on television), Jim Nabors, Bobby Darin, Frank Gorshin, and Donald O'Connor (who co-starred with Debbie in Singin' in the Rain). That's a pretty good lineup, even if it does pre-empt The FBI. And we can't forget Ed Sullivan this week (8:00 p.m., CBS); his guests are Eddie Albert; George Hamilton who does a song-and-dance number; Diana Ross and the Supremes; and the Temptations; Flip Wilson; George Carlin; Apache dancers Evon and Astor; and the Muppets. On film: Rex Harrison in a scene from Dr. Doolittle.

Monday, Pernell Roberts reminds us of just how successful his departure from Bonanza was with a guest-starring role on Gunsmoke (7:30 p.m., CBS). Yup, trading one big-time Western for another; I'm not so sure just how good an idea that was. Elsewhere, Sammy Davis Jr. pulls double-duty, first on Danny Thomas's dramatic anthology series (9:00 p.m., NBC), where he plays a World War II soldier wondering if the fellow GI who befriended him (Henry Silva) is really a German spy; then as a guest on The Joey Bishop Show (11:30 p.m., ABC). If you want to catch him on the latter, though, you're going to have to pass up yet another outstanding late-night movie—The Maltese Falcon (11:30 p.m., KPIX in San Francisco), with Humphrey Bogart as private detective Sam Spade, and Mary Astor as the woman he won't play the sap for.

On Tuesday, NBC airs a made-for-TV flick, The Outsider (9:00 p.m.), a pilot for next season's series of the same name, starring Darren McGavin as an ex-con-turned-private detective. Although it was well-regarded by many critics, who welcomed the departure from the smooth, well-dressed jazz detectives we'd become accustomed to, it will run for 26 episodes before departing these mortal coils. And a couple of specials at 10:00 p.m. vie for your attention: on CBS, it's "Gauguin in Tahiti: The Search for Paradise," a documentary recounting the painter's time in Tahiti, narrated by Charles Kuralt, with Sir Michael Redgrave as the voice of Gauguin. Meanwhile, ABC pre-empts The Hollywood Palace (and whose stupid idea was it to move the show from Saturday to Tuesday?) for One-Night Stands, a look at the lives of performers who make their livings touring from city to city. Featured performers include Johnny Rivers, Woody Herman and his Swinging Herd, and the 5th Dimension; Bing Crosby, who knows a thing or two about life on the road, is the narrator.

Wednesday is the fourth anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, a fact that is commemorated by a Kennedy documentary (9:00 p.m., KTVU in Oakland) narrated by Cliff Robertson, with added insights by Jim Bishop, author of The Day Kennedy Was Shot. On a lighter note, the King Family celebrates Thanksgiving with the first of five holiday programs (7:30 p.m., KXTV in Sacramento). And the Kraft Music Hall goes Country this week, with Dinah Shore hosting "The Nashville Sound" (9:00 p.m., NBC), aided by Ray Charles, Eddy Arnold, Johnny Mercer, the Everly Brothers, and the Stoney Mountain Cloggers.

In Thursday's non-Thanksgiving programming, Cliff Robertson returns, this time as John F. Kennedy, in a rerun of PT 109 (9:00 p.m., CBS), the story of JFK's time as a World War II PT-boat skipper. Judith Crist calls the movie "a kind of comic-book-version-of-history-for-slow-readers," and mentions that when the movie was originally broadcast, she'd described it as "an adventure movie that would appeal to 10-year-old boys of all ages," only to receive objections from 10-year-old boys who thought the age limit should be lower. This movie was released in theaters during Kennedy's lifetime, so don't expect any exploration of the actual circumstances surrounding the sinking of Kennedy's boat. And on Batman (7:30 p.m., ABC), Rudy Vallee and Glynis Johns star as Lord Ffogg and Lady Penelope Peasoup in the first part of a mediocre three-part story that somehow contrives to put Batman, Robin, and Batgirl in "Londinium."  

On Friday, it's ABC's annual day-after-Thanksgiving Cartoon Festival, running between 9:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. It's one of the things that I miss most about Thanksgiving week, even though I might not have watched any of these cartoons; there was something special about seeing Saturday morning cartoons on Friday that reminded you that this was a bonus day, an extra Saturday if you will, on top of everything that happened yesterday. Of course, one reason why it's not done today is because the networks don't show cartoons on Saturday morning anymore. As a matter of fact, I don't think they show anything on Saturday morning anymore; they leave it to the local stations and their lame E/I programs. Ah, another golden memory gone; I guess college football serves the same function today. In primetime, NBC pre-empts Star Trek (note to programming: in the future, don't pre-empt the program on the cover of this week's issue) for a repeat broadcast of Singer Presents Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass (8:30 p.m.), which the ads promote as "the most popular hour special in TV history!" Now, whether they can actually prove that statement or not is, I suppose, questionable, but there's no question that Alpert & Co. were as popular as any group around back in the late 1960s. It's also a great time to be selling sewing machines.

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As you probably know by now, we at It's About TV! are dedicated to examining classic television through the microscope of American culture, and nothing could be more American, though lacking in culture, than the Hippie. So we'd be remiss if we passed up Robert Higgins' examination of what Hippies think of television, the ultimate instrument of the establishment? And, perhaps surprisingly,  "the tuned-out generation is as tuned in to TV as Ernest Establishment and Company." This insight comes to us courtesy of "combing through a horde of hippie pads," and interviewing representative members "ranging from spokesmen such as poet-writer-musician Ed Sanders of The Fugs, a singing group, to hippie rank-and-filers like Richie (he’s dropped his last name), a former Ashbury-based Digger." Their verdict: "the boob tube was the grove tube." 

The psychedelic artist Peter Max, for instance, sees television as "almost spiritual," while Ed Sanders calls it "hypnotic," and adds that "It’s part of life—like toothpaste and cancer." His bandmate, Ken Weaver, watches TV "all the time." "I watch movies all night, and at 6 a.m. I start the day with Modern Farmer. That’s groovy—all about cattle diseases." (Funny, I never thought about Modern Farmer that way when I was living in the World's Worst Town™.) And Village Voice staffer Don McNeill thinks TV is a "fantastic medium. You can find out where America’s really at by watching TV." Which is what I've been saying here for years.

Hippies don't pay much attention to the fact that they're often portrayed on television in a negative light. And, oddly, they aren't offended by the materialism implicit in the commercial medium; "[t]hey often dig the commercials more than the programs." Richie says it's because they're on to the "hucksters' hoaxy ways," but Weaver has perhaps a more practical explanation: "When you’re stoned you don’t get so mad at them. Even the soap -commercials. You figure, what the hell; soap’s to wash dirty clothes, man. They can’t make that romantic." They're not always stoned while they're watching, though. "One of the grooviest ways to watch TV," Sanders says, “is to turn on a series like Gunsmoke, turn the sound off and put on a Beatles or, better still, a Fugs record." Hippies also don't seem to mind the violence that infests so much of television. "If people want it," says Sanders, "I say slap it to them. I'm democratic." Adds McNeill, "Hippies aren't particularly anti-violence. Most aren't put off by it." 

Even though Hippies are masters of the put-on, they seem to be sincere in their admiration of television. "Young Hippies aren’t going to put down TV," Sanders tells Higgins. "It’s like going to church for them, They’re products of the middle class. Their parents have made sure they can plug back in whenever they want to. They can plug back into the Long Island railroad, the commuter card or TV. Those who haven’t already plugged back in will do so eventually. They'll go back to Jersey and marry the dentist. The only difference is that they’ll turn the dentist on to grass."

As for the influence that Hippies will have on the future of TV, Sanders thinks it will be substantial. "TV is one generation behind. Today's kids will have a lot of power—and they're not going to be buying a lot of what's on TV." Did that come to pass; is that reflected in the television of the 1970s and 1980s? If you see the evolution of television as a linear progression, that would explain a lot.

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MST3K alert: Dressed to Kill
(1946) When banknote plates are stolen from the Bank of England, Sherlock Holmes is called onto the scene. Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Edmond Breon. (Sunday, 11:15 p.m., KRON in San Francisco) OK, I'm cheating a bit this week; this is actually part of Rifftrax, the spinoff from Mystery Science Theater, featuring two of the stars from MST3K, Bridget Nelson and Mary Jo Pehl. And we don't usually get to see movies that are, well, not bad. But there's still a lot of humor to be mined from the Rathbone-Bruce movies, and don't forget the biscuits! TV  


  1. I was just about to turn six in 1967.
    I don't know how many other stations did this around the country. But one Pittsburgh station (don't ask me which one) every Friday after Thanksgiving showed King Kong, Son of Kong, and Mighty Joe Young. Sort of became a tradition.
    TV in those days was for the whole family. An era when you could turn the TV on for your kids, walk out of the room, and not worry about what they would see or hear. 1967, sometimes I wish I was back there.

    1. Absolutely! And for as often as we read about TV being used as a babysitter (and maybe some of us experienced that first-hand), it was something that the family could do together, as well as separately. And remember how people used to invite friends over to watch a special show. I don't think TV's made us unsociable as much as we've made it unsociable by not using it as a communal occasion.

  2. I had this Guide and the Sports Illustrated issue. I thought about the 1967 clash between Gary Beban of UCLA and O J Simpson for USC. Great, memorable game. As a 13 yar old enamored with Star Trek, the AFL and TV in general, this brought back some good memories this afternoon. Mitchell, my best to you and your family (and all of the regulars on here) for a great Thanksgiving. I'm thankful for what you bring us each week to honor the era of television we remember fondly.

    1. My best to you and your family as well, JD - thanks for the kind words, and for your comments throughout the year. Your support is something I'm very thankful for! Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. ...and let's not forget the tantalizing food commercials during the Kraft Music Hall!

    1. Nothing says classic TV like the warm, comforting voice of Ed Herlihy.

    2. Stop, you two - you're making me hungry!

  4. The end of a crappy weekend:
    My old curiosity reasserts itself: in all this time, did you ever take another look
    (or even a first look, comes to that) at the 1967 pilot film of Ironside?
    That also goes for Stephen Taylor, and anybody else who enjoys getting caught short by old movies or TV.
    Just askin', as always ...

    1. I saw the pilot for Ironside several years ago, on Amazon maybe. For the most part it holds up pretty well. A very noirish style of camera work and music from the great Quincy Jones. Ironside is more grumpy than he would be in the series. His reaction to being told he was crippled for life is classic.

    2. I must admit I have yet to get to it, although it's on my list for right after the first of the year, when our Christmas viewing is done. This may seem off-topic, but I noticed how David Janssen's "Harry O" was also much grumpier in the pilot than he would be when it became a series, and, per James's comment, I'm looking forward to comparing the pilot version of Ironside with the series version. After reading what you've all had to say plus Cleveland Amory's review, I think I'm ready to look back at this again; I don't think I've seen an episode since it was originally on!

    3. I watched the Harry O pilot and series on YouTube a last year (probably ripped down now). They changed the nature of the character and show as time went on. The Pilot and the early episodes are quite good, if only they ignored network interference.

    4. You're right about that, James. (The episodes are now on the Internet Archive, but again it's wise to look quickly.) Silverman ruined it, in more ways than one.

  5. Hmmm .... about that Ironside pilot:
    You see, my Point (?) was that a 2023 audience might be brought up short by a TV-movie that had been made in late 1966 (first showing in early 1967) - and in particular by some of the performers who turn up in roles other than what they became well-known for later on in life.
    Actually, there's one such appearance that I've always found knocks modern-day viewers for a definite loop - and no, I'm not spoiling it here, see it for yourself when the time comes ...
    Mind you, the show itself is pretty good, deserving of its sale and long run, and I'll note that the Universal team had the good sense to lose some of the obvious hooks ("flamin' ", for instance) early on.
    The "grumpy" factor, from what I've read, came from Raymond Burr himself, as did its ultimate modification, to something closer to Burr's own personality - but that's another story ...
    Well, you get the idea; more when the time comes ...


Thanks for writing! Drive safely!