March 2, 2024

This week in TV Guide: March 2, 1963

One of the season's more interesting new shows, both conceptually and in practice, is The Eleventh Hour, NBC's drama dealing with the world of the mind. The Eleventh Hour—the title refers to those patients "on the verge of breakdown" and facing the last chance for treatment—is the product of executive producer Norman Felton, creator of the radio programs "Doctors Today" and "Today in Medicine" with the American Medical Association, and of the dramatic series Dr. Kildare for NBC television.* 

*Felton is perhaps best-known for a later show with absolutely nothing to do with medicine, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. 

Felton is determined to remove The Eleventh Hour from the traditional stereotypes of psychiatry; "What we're not doing is the story of Pen, Pad and Couch. Our forensic psychiatrist—Dr. Ted Bassett—is no analyst taking notes about patients' dreams. He's active, not passive. He's a therapist, a healer." The field of psychiatry has been relatively untouched by television, so Felton has established an advisory board comprised of 20 psychiatrists and four psychologists, plus psychiatrist Dr. Harold Arlen as technical advisor. In so doing, Felton and his staff have unearthed some potential concerns; after viewing the pilot episode, one psychiatrist wondered if viewers, after seeing various mental illnesses dramatized, might wonder if they themselves are suffering from the same illness. Felton reassured the doctors that while the show will deal with serious issues and how people can get help, "At the same time we want to entertain and hold an audience so that our program doesn't end up on the Sunday morning schedule." 

The lead characters of The Eleventh Hour are Wendell Corey as the aforementioned Dr. Theodore Bassett, a forensic psychiatrist and former lawyer, who is often called in to consult on cases involving an accused's sanity or state of mind; and Jack Ging as clinical psychologist Dr. Paul Graham*. Originally Ging was to be another psychiatrist sharing the office with Bassett, until it was pointed out that in real life, psychiatrists do not share offices. Changing Ging's status created another problem, this one with the American Psychological Association, which accused the show of portraying psychologists too often with "little resemblance to the realities of today's methods for care and treatment of the emotionally disturbed." (Graham, for instance, is the member of the duo most likely to enlist the use of such tropes as ink blot tests.) The network replied that "the psychologists were preoccupied with professional status." I had no idea that the behind-the-scenes story could be so dramatic!

*Unlike psychiatrists, psychologists are not medical doctors and, for example, cannot prescribe medication. Their title of "doctor" refers to their Ph.D. or Sc.D. degrees.

If you're a longtime reader, you'll know that I have a great admiration for The Eleventh Hour, and particularly for Wendell Corey's performance. Corey portrays Ted Bassett with great sensitivity and compassion; the opening of the first episode sets the tone for the series. A disturbed patient is running berserk through the hospital halls, trying desperately to escape. As he reaches the elevator, the doors open, revealing our first look at Dr. Bassett. The patient comes to a complete stop, as Bassett holds out his hands and offers him a small smile of reassurance. The patient, calming down, takes Bassett's hand, and then allows the orderlies to lead him away. Bassett watches after him, saying, almost to himself, "Poor damned soul." 

Wendell Corey and Barbara Rush
Some critics found that opening melodramatic, carrying overtones of the "great white father" school of medicine. On the contrary, I found Corey's gesture to be deeply moving, the kind of caring that I'd want from my doctor in a similar situation. Corey is, in fact, the fulcrum around which this show pivots; Jack Ging's character is very good, equally committed to helping his patients, but I so admire Corey's performance as Dr. Bassett; it's no easy feat to take a broken person and try to put him back together, to find out what's at the root of the problem and treat it; but Corey gives you confidence that it can be done.

(Corey leaves the series after the first season, and is replaced by a similar character, played by Ralph Bellamy, for the show's second and last season, which has not been made available on DVD; if anyone is aware of a—ahem—gray market dealer who has it, please let me know.) 

Mental illness is precisely that, an illness; it should be viewed without stigma or prejudice. Those who scoff at such diagnoses, who think of it as a weakness, or who view it as a crutch, are not just misinformed, they're ignorant. As such, I'm a great believer in psychiatry, though one has to be very careful about the psychiatrist as well as the technique involved. You might recall a similar series, Breaking Point, which will be premiering on ABC in the 1963-64 season. I liked that show as well, and thought that it dealt with the issue with sensitivity. These shows, for the most part, avoid easy answers in favor of hopeful ones; the illnesses from which these patients suffer will not go away magically. It will take work, it will take desire on the part of the patient to get better, but these doctors will be there to help him on the way. Sam Rolfe, the producer of The Eleventh Hour, says that "We want to let people know that when a man is boxed in, when it's a case of 'I've lost my job and my world is tumbling down'—there are doctors for that, too." Doctors like Ted Bassett, whose philosophy, Wendell Corey says, is "Never mind the past. Let's give the patient a future." In this cruel, cruel world we live in today, it's impossible not to be moved by it. 

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ABC's new fall season
Spring is just around the corner, at least according to the calendar, and it's oft been said that in springtime, a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love. Unless, that is, he happens to be a young television executive, in which case springtime means his thoughts are focused, rather heavily, on the upcoming fall season. And, according to the Hollywood Teletype, there's quite a lot to think about. Titles for the new season are said to include The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters, starring Dan O'Herlihy; Butterball Brown, with Mickey Shaughnessy; Ready for the People, starring Everett Sloane; Arrest and Trial, with Ben Gazzara and Chuck Connors in a 90-minute drama; Please Stand By, a sci-fi anthology; The Fugitive, with David Janssen; Breaking Point, starring Paul Richards; The Patty Duke Show; The Greatest Show on Earth, with Jack Palance; Mr. Kingston, with Peter Graves and Walter Pidgeon; Thunderhead, starring George Montgomery; The Young and the Bold; and Archie. In the New York Teletype, a separate item mentions the upcoming 90-minute Jerry Lewis Show.

Some of these probably ring a bell. Please Stand By made it to the tube as The Outer Limits, while The Young and the Bold wound up as Channing and lasted one season. The Fugitive and Patty Duke speak for themselves; Arrest and Trial was truly innovative, but it took until Law & Order to make it work; Jaimie McPheeters was also one season and out, as was Breaking Point (unjustly) and Greatest Show. And you probably know about the bomb that was The Jerry Lewis Show.  The others left less of an oil slick than Jerry, but disappeared beneath the waves nonetheless.

As for the shows that have to go to make room for future hits, they include The Jetsons (which had a longer half-life than all but a couple of the new shows), The Rifleman, Going My Way, Our Man Higgins, I'm Dickens, He's Fenster, The Gallant Men, Naked City (a true classic), My Three Sons (which moved to CBS and ran for another seven seasons), and 77 Sunset Strip (although that survived by moving to another timeslot; the reformatted Sunset Strip was a disaster). Fred Astaire's Premiere anthology probably won't be back, but even if it is, Fred's already decided to return to movies (a good idea). 

I always enjoy looking at these proposed new series—which ones succeed beyond our wildest dreams, and which fail miserably, which cancelled shows are totally forgotten (like last week's My Friend Tony), and which are remembered forever (the aforementioned Jetsons). The fact that the young television executive, given the choice between love and television, chooses television, perhaps explains why TV itself seldom fulfills our expectations.

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And this serves as a nice lead-in to our next story, an interview with Dr. Gary A. Steiner, a psychologist from the University of Chicago, who's done a comprehensive study of television viewers, the findings of which are summarized in his new book The People Look at Television. In the TV Guide interview, Dr. Steiner explains "what viewers say they want to see on television and what they actually watch," and this should be good.

First of all, says Dr. Steiner, "everyone—highbrows included—watches mostly light entertainment," which includes action, comedy, variety, light drama, and sports. That accounts for roughly two-thirds of the average viewing week. Another large chunk of viewing comes from newscasts, making up anywhere between 25 and 40 percent of viewing. However, "heavier fare—serious drama, classical music, heavy information such as public affairs presentations" makes up less than 10 percent of the average viewing diet.

Isn't it the case, though, that viewer choices are based on what's available? Well, no. Even when given the choice, viewers, including better-educated ones, turn overwhelmingly to light entertainment. "Four out of five times" the college-educated viewer will pick light entertainment even when public affairs broadcasts are available. Even those viewers who say they want more public affairs programming consistently choose light entertainment shows when they have a choice. "So there is little evidence in support of the argument that viewers watch so much trivia because trivia is all they are offered."

As far as that light entertainment goes, Dr. Steiner's survey found that about every genre of programming has as many supporters as it does critics, meaning that for every critic who claims there are, for example, too many Westerns on TV, you're likely to find a satisfied fan. There is, in other words, "no simple change in program composition that on balance would satisfy more people than it would dissatisfy." 

There is, however, some correlation between education and the choice of entertainment; college educated viewers will turn from light to heavy entertainment when it's available. The general public, in such cases, still prefers light entertainment, and public affairs programs run a distant third. As for the fact that viewers say there needs to be more public affairs programming, Steiner speculates that this could be similar to "speed limits or integration—they recognize the need for information as a need for the country in general," not specifically for themselves

In general, viewers think there's too much violence on television, and they're particularly concerned about the exposure children have to such shows—both on shows designed for adults and for children. "It is the eye-gouging, slapping, hitting over the head—not mowing down with machine guns—that causes the greatest concern." They understand the need for commercials, but find them too long and interrupt too frequently, and at crucial points during a broadcast; they like commercials for beer, food, and automobiles, and dislike those for bathroom products, cigarettes, and undergarments. (I wonder what they'd think of today's commercials for, among other things, vaginal deodorant?)

In conclusion, Dr. Steiner gives us an idea of what the "composite viewer" wants. "First and foremost, give me more programs that are fun and worthwhile programs that I find relaxing and entertaining but, at the same time, are in some way informative, uplifting, useful." Make programs that are "safe for children and attract and hold their attention." Don't give us commercials that insult our intelligence, and don't interrupt in the middle of a program to show them. Raise the average level of all programs, rather than offering a few outstanding shows each year. And, since it's hard to control the amount of television watched by both adults and children, help us out by making those hours a little more worthwhile. "Television could certainly stand improvement. But all things considered, you're doing a good job."

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A pair of legal dramas lead off the week: Sam Benedict (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., NBC) has a change-of-pace episode, in which star Edmond O'Brien plays a dual role: high-powered attorney Benedict, and ne'er do well Charlie Dunphie, who's guilty of having bilked 17 charities—in order to support the 17 orphans he tends to on the old showboat they call home. I don't think the story is up to the caliber of most of the show's episodes, but it gives O'Brien a chance to show off his acting chops, and that's always welcome. Later, on The Defenders (8:30 p.m., CBS) the Prestons take the case of Luke Jackson (Rubert Duvall), a convicted murderer who's spent the last seven years on death row, and now a model of rehabilitation—just in time to be strapped into the electric chair. 

Looks as if whoever owned this issue planned to watch it as well!
If you're looking for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I have just the thing for you. It's the NBC Opera Company world premiere production of Gian Carlo Menotti's made-for-TV opera "Labyrinth" (Sunday, 2:00 p.m. ET), and when I say that it was made for television, I'm not kidding; the special effects and trick photography involved make it almost impossible for the opera to ever be performed on a stage. You can see the broadcast here, and it's a good thing that the video exists, because the opera was never rebroadcast and, aside from a 2020 performance at Ventura College, it has never been staged anywhere else. It saves us from having to ask the question: if an opera is performed and no video of it exists, did it really happen?

Sunday evening, Ed Sullivan's headline guests are Kate Smith, Bob Newhart, Anita Bryant, Nancy Walker, and Charles Nelson Reilly. He's also got a British ventriloquist, a Spanish dance group, and a hand-balancing act, but I think his main lineup would have won the day, regardless of what show it might have been going against (8:00 p.m., CBS). And on an NBC News Special, John Chancellor takes a look at the European Common Market, progenitor to the European Union. (10:00 p.m.) I don't know that it was a good idea then, any more than it is today.

Future Oscar winner Beatrice Straight stars as Edith in Monday's Ben Casey, a drama filled with family tensions: her niece Greta (Diana Hyland) is being controlled by her domineering mother; and Edith is refusing to undergo critical surgery until Greta is given her freedom. I wonder how Casey's going to handle this one?

The luminous Diane Baker appears as a young blind woman who's the target of farmer Lloyd Bridges' affections in The Lloyd Bridges Show (Tuesday, 8:00 p.m., CBS). Efron presents a rather interesting profile of the man whom she describes as "an enormously frail personality—so gentle and shy that it takes an hour of conversation before one gets any definite impression of him at all." His friends paint a similar picture;  Aaron Spelling, producer of Lloyd's current anthology series, calls him an enigma, "full of sweetness, full of love," while his wife Dorothy notes how "children worship him, flock around him." Both add, however, that his desire to love and please everyone is a source of trouble for him; "poor judgement," says Spelling, while his wife feels others take advantage of his gentle disposition. Not everyone is a fan; one critic says he doesn't believe all the talk of love of life and people: "He's weak, unrealistic. He refuses to look life in the face." Bridges himself doesn't particularly like the description of himself as a "gentle muscleman," but admits to a lack of aggressiveness, which could be due to a lack of confidence in his own abilities. Even though his new series lags in the ratings, he's enthusiastic about the opportunity to show that he can act, that he's not just the adventure star of Sea Hunt; he calls it "the biggest opportunity of my life." In the end, the series does leave the air after a single season, but Lloyd Bridges seldom leaves the small screen; he'll be back in Rod Serling's existential Western, The Loner, and was a fixture in guest appearances and TV-movies (not to mention his memorable role in the movie Airplane!) until his death in 1998.

Pop singer Joanie Sommers is Wednesday night's star; she appears first as one of Perry Como's guests on the Kraft Music Hall (9:00 p.m., NBC), along with Gene Sheldon, Charlie Manna, and the Four Step Brothers; later, she shows up on The Steve Allen Show (11:15 p.m., syndicated), with jazzman Frank Rosolino and singer Dean Reed. James Stewart makes a rare appearance on series television on Thursday, portraying himself in his real-life capacity as a brigadier general in the Air Force Reserves, on My Three Sons (9:00 p.m., ABC) in an episode in which Robbie is competing to win a high school letter for science achievement. 

On Friday, Leonard Bernstein's Young People's Concert presents its last show of the season, "The Latin American Spirit," featuring his new symphonic arrangement of West Side Story, along with pieces by Aaron Copland, Heitor Villa-Lobos, and Oscar Fernandez (7:30 p.m., CBS). Later, on The Jack Paar Program (10:00 p.m., NBC), former Vice President Richard Nixon makes his first network TV appearance since losing the election for governor of California last November. He's given Jack carte blanche on any question topics, and even takes time out to play a composition of his own on the piano. The audience reaction shows that even after his defeat, he remains a popular political figure.

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Ann Flood is frustrated. She's already an established star of daytime television as Nancy Pollock Karr, the fresh-scrubbed heroine of CBS's The Edge of Night. Before that, she was Liz Fraser Allen, the fresh-scrubbed heroine of From These Roots. And therein lies the rub: Flood, whom everyone describes as warm and sweet-hearted is feeling a little stifled. "I've been cast as the all-American-girl type, the sweetheart type, for years. For a change, I'd like to be the Other Woman." 

No matter what kind of character she plays, though, she's committed to the world of the soaps—which, for the most part, are still being done live. "I'm not pursuing a stellar career," she tells TV Guide. "My home is most important. I don't want my work to interfere." Earlier in her career, she was a fixture on just about every evening dramatic anthology, an experience she found "thrilling," but no longer. "Now it would interfere with my family."

So she doesn't get a chance to demonstrate a hard edge in her soap roles; maybe she makes up for that in her personal life. Her favorite show is The Untouchables; when she and her husband visited Chicago recently, the first thing she wanted to see was the site of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. And she's a ferocious debater in social gatherings—"If it's a theatrical crowd, she's arguing about Method acting. And if it's a non-theatrical crowd, it's politics. She's usually denouncing union corruption." Listening to her husband talk about her, she says with a twinkle, "Down deep, this all-American girl is really Eliot Ness."

Ann Flood is too experienced, too well-known, to be considered a startlet, but I enjoy these kinds of stories because you're inevitably drawn to find out what happened to the rest of her career. And in her case, the answer is formidable. She continues to play Nancy Pollack Karr until the series ends in 1984, during which time The Edge of Night transitions from live broadcast to tape, and from CBS to ABC. She remains married to Herbert Granath, from 1952 until his death in 2019. Ann Flood dies in 2022, at the age of 89, proof positive that nice girls don't always finish last.

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MST3K alert: Bride of the Monster (1955) An intrepid female reporter investigates a mad scientist who is attempting to harness atomic energy to turn people into superhuman monsters. Bela Lugosi, Tor Johnson, Harvey B. Dunn, Dolores Fuller. (Thursday, 5:00 p.m., WFMJ in Youngstown) Two words: Ed Wood. Need I go any further? It may not be Plan 9 from Outer Space, but it doesn't have to be, does it? TV  


  1. Your 3rd paragraph seems to indicate that the lead characters could be psychologists rather than psychiatrists. I'm glad you added your note indicating the difference. From what I see in Wiki, the characters were psychiatrists, handling very serious cases. Sam Rolfe, the producer of this show, along with Norman Felton worked on UNCLE a couple years later. The Paley Center has an episode which has Don Grady taking time away from MY THREE SONS to play a delinquent. The 2 psychiatrists have the whole family in therapy to uncover what's causing his delinquency:

    Speaking of MY THREE SONS, it didn't leave ABC until 2 seasons later (1965), when CBS took it over (I don't think ABC cancelled it.) and switched it from B&W to color.

    1. The always-reliable Wikipedia is wrong on this one; Dr. Bassett was a psychiatrist, Dr. Graham a psychologist. (Changed the paragraph to make that clearer.) They share an office, and were both intended to be psychiatrists until it was pointed out to Felton that psychiatrists do not share office space; it was at that point that Dr. Graham was changed to a psychologist. When Ralph Bellamy replaced Wendell Corey for the second season, he introduced a new character: Dr. Starke, who was also a psychiatrist.

      The episode with Don Grady is very good.

  2. TV has never produced a decent show about the mental health profession. No, I don't count the Bob Newhart Show.
    Being my wife is a clinical social worker, I often point out the only TV show about a Social Worker was the short-lived East Side, West Side. Midway through the first season he quit and started working for a politician.


Thanks for writing! Drive safely!