Monthly Archives: January 2011

“This is not a docu-comedy, you know.  It’s not a story about news or a story about Boston.  It’s a story about people.  Goodnight Beantown is just a medium to bring together two adult people and try to do adult stories.  And I don’t mean X-rated adult.  I mean intelligent adult, where people get together and talk and spar with each other.”
–Bill Bixby, talking about fellow star Mariette Hartley and Goodnight Beantown

Chemistry on a television show cannot be overrrated.  It’s that mysterious quality characters (and actors) have that keeps audiences coming back for more, even when sometimes plots or situations aren’t quite perfect.  When a show doesn’t have it, even the best premise can die quickly.  Find people you like in roles that show off that rarity, and suddenly a viewer becomes a fan of most anything they do.

Casting directors crave that valuable chemistry, searching for the right person to be both believable in a part and still let their own qualities shine through.  They hope to hire the stars that may have previously built up that fan base and will bring viewers to a show.  It’s true in drama, comedy, and even in local newsrooms, where many anchor pairings have either reached new lows or new heights depending upon how well they got along.  Sometimes, it’s saying hello to disaster.  Sometimes, it’s waving Goodnight Beantown.

Matt, Susan, and Jennifer

The gentle romantic comedy Goodnight Beantown premiered on CBS in 1983.  The title comes from the sign-off line used by long-time Boston anchor Matt Cassidy (Bill Bixby), the respected star of WYN-TV’s nightly newscast.  But local broadcasting was changing in the ’80’s, and “hard” news was quickly being replaced by a “softer” approach.  Those in charge brought in a new co-anchor, Jennifer Barnes (Mariette Hartley) to join Cassidy as on-air host and bring a new perspective to the presentation.  Needless to say, Matt did NOT approve of the idea of him needing help, to the point of deliberately reducing her sign-off to a little wave goodnight.

A professional rivalry ensues, with her stealing his catch-phrase the next night.  After some escalating one-upmanship, a rather prickly professional relationship is born, as they both learn to respect each other’s work.

A personal relationship might also be in the news, although they don’t know it right away.  As he leaves for work on the first day of this new arrangement, Matt helps the 13-year old Susan moving in across the hall of his duplex.  Susan convinces Matt that her mom would be a terrific blind date for him, and later convinces mom that the cute guy across the across the hall is interested.  When the professional rivals discover they’ve been set up as potential love interests for each other, a push-pull relationship is born.  With a gentle nudge from Susan, they could probably fall in love, if only they didn’t have to work together.

Bringing work home: L-R, Jennifer, Valerie, Matt, Albert, Frank

Back at work, other changes would soon occur at WYN-TV.  Valerie Wood (Stephanie Faracy) was a “Features” reporter on “lifestyle” stories.  Valerie’s overly sensitive heart may have been in the right place, but her brain was occasionally on vacation.  Sports reporter Frank Fletcher (Jim Staahl) was always on his game… and when he wasn’t chasing after other skirts, he had an unrequited crush on Valerie, who was oblivious to both his interest and his supposed charm.  This crew was watched over by news director Albert Addleson (G.W. Bailey).  He did his best to control these various personalities in his newsroom, at least for the 30 minutes they were on the air.

“How come my opinions are always opinions and yours are always facts?.”
–Jennifer Barnes to Matt Cassidy, debating as usual

Yes. No. Yes. No... Maybe.

Before the nightly cameras rolled, the fur flew at work.  Matt was very much a traditionalist, not chauvinistic per se, but rather set in his ideas about how news should be gathered and presented.  Jennifer was probably a bit more aggressive in her pursuit of stories (if only to prove herself), and more willing to use unusual methods to cover them (like when she investigated “ladies of the evening” in Boston… and Matt got arrested when he “propositioned” her to stop.)  Yes, the relationship was sometimes adversarial, but it was surprisingly smart.  It didn’t resort to immaturity, and was a welcome change portraying two reasonable adults with opposite points of view who ultimately could get along (and even fall in love despite their differences).

“Mariette is so much fun to play with.  The kind of verbal tennis we play on the show is the same way we do in our personal lives.  We start in makeup in the morning and one of us throws a verbal challenge at the other.”
–Bill Bixby, again talking about Mariette Hartley

Real adult relationships (the kind that don’t constantly rely on sexual tension) are tricky to portray on television, because if that mysterious thing called chemistry isn’t present, then those portrayals don’t stand a chance.  Fortunately, both Bixby and Hartley had built up plenty of goodwill over their individual careers among the viewing audience, and they made a pretty good romantic-comedy team.  They had actually played husband-and-wife previously, with Hartley earning an Emmy for her dramatic performance as the doomed wife of Bixby’s David Banner on the second season premiere of The Incredible Hulk.

“I know I am associated with television and I can’t seem to break that.  It seems to be my lot.  You could do worse.  I could be not working at all!”
–Mariette Hartley

Smile for the Polaroid camera

While some thought her award was more due to her spectacularly well-received series of Polaroid commercials with James Garner (of Maverick and The Rockford Files fame), Hartley had been a well-known and popular actress for many years.  Memorable roles in everything from the original Star Trek to prime-time soap Peyton Place and numerous guest star television roles had given her significant recognition.  Her performance in Goodnight Beantown was enough to earn her a second Emmy nomination, this time for Best Actress in a Comedy Series.  She’s such a television favorite that she’s one of the few women who have received Best Actress nominations in Comedy (Beantown), Drama (Hulk and Rockford Files), and Limited Series categories (M.A.D.D., Mothers Against Drunk Driving).

“I have even more rapport with Bill than with Jimmy.  Bill is quicker–he’s like a terrier while Garner is more of a sheepdog.”
–Mariette Hartley on working with Bixby and Garner

Bixby had already been beloved by television viewers for many years.  His previous series included My Favorite Martian, The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, The Magician, and The Incredible Hulk.  That’s over 280 episodes and eleven and a half seasons of being welcomed into people’s living rooms prior to Goodnight Beantown.  Here was a man who had earned not only viewers’ respect, but their loyalty.

Bixby was also a producer and occasional director on Goodnight Beantown, so he was particularly concerned with the portrayals of all the characters, even if some others wanted him to be the “star” attraction.  He was more than willing to share the limelight with his fellow actors, knowing it was the relationships between them that would ultimately sell the show to viewers.  This sometimes meant his Matt was the one to be “wrong” in some way, in order for Hartley’s Jennifer to be an equal foil.  Bixby was secure enough as an actor to be shown in a less than flattering light.  His fan base liked him so much he didn’t always have to be “right” as long as he wasn’t a complete villain.

Between them, Hartley and Bixby had that mysterious chemistry.  The two were great real-life friends, and brought their underlying respect and camaraderie to the onscreen relationship for all the world to see.  Goodnight Beantown premiered as a mid-season replacement (starring  Bixby, Hartley, and Gold with different supporting players) in the Spring of 1983, and although only five episodes were produced and aired at the time, the promising tryout of the show earned it a Fall slot on the CBS schedule.  But that Fall slot might not be all it was cracked up to be.

“We’re doing fine in the ratings.  We’re number 26 right now and that is exactly where I want to be.  I never wanted to be number one—ever.  This year is getting off to the same kind of start as ‘Eddie’s Father’ did on its first year.  I think we have a good basic sound following audience which is still finding us.   And that is what every show needs.  We’ve had everything you can imagine thrown at us by other networks.  They’re stunting with heavy-duty movies.  But we know they’re going to run out of movies sooner or later.”
–Bixby on the beginning of the Fall season

CBS knew the Fall was going to be difficult, even with the promise Goodnight Beantown showed.  The Sunday night time slot for the show was the most competitive on television that year, and Beantown was the newest show of the bunch.  In the hopes of gaining even more of an audience, changes were made.

No, do it THIS way...

G.W. Bailey’s Addleson was added to the show at this time.  The show’s previous news director (played by George Coe) was deemed too similar to the point of view of Bixby’s Matt.  Addleson was more comical, and more middle-of-the-road between Matt and Jennifer.  The new season also brought the addition of Valerie and Frank, giving the two news anchors other people to bounce their personalities off of (and not be quite so directly confrontational with each other).

The net result of these changes made for a better show from a dramatic and scripting point of view, but the power of the Hartley and Bixby chemistry together was diluted in some ways.  The tone and the comedy were a bit softer and more intelligent than the prevailing shows it aired with, so when push came to shove it was the odd show out.  The stars sharing their screen time with others to that degree plus the added competition for the series in the Fall led to a final sign-off (and a little wave goodnight) for Goodnight Beantown.

BILL BIXBY (Matt Cassidy) hosted the kids’ series Once Upon a Classic, featuring dramatizations of many favorites of literature.  He was also a prolific television director in addition to his previously mentioned work.  He directed 3 episodes of Goodnight Beantown, as well as helming duties on Sledge Hammer!, two of the three sequel Incredible Hulk TV-moves, and Wizards and Warriors.  He was a regular director on the sitcom Blossom, his last assignment finishing just six days before he succumbed to a battle with cancer in 1993.

MARIETTE HARTLEY (Jennifer Barnes) has performed in many issue-oriented TV-movies, and she’s passionate about those causes because she’s had to deal with many of them in her own personal life.  Her family history includes alcoholism, suicide, and depression, and her own diagnosis with bi-polar disorder.  Her best-selling memoir Breaking the Silence was published in 1990 detailing her life and struggles.  She is a co-founder of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

TRACEY GOLD (Susan Barnes) had quite a career just as a teen actress, playing daughter in various series to Shirley Jones (Shirley), Nell Carter (the original pilot for Gimmie a Break!), and Alan Thicke (Growing Pains, her most famous role).  She later had her own personal battles with anorexia nervosa, detailed in her book Room to Grow:  An Appetite for Life.

G.W. BAILEY (Albert Addleson) is best known for his role as Rizzo in the M*A*S*H television series.  He also appeared as a regular on St. Elsewhere, The Jeff Foxworthy Show, and the Police Academy series of movies.  Currently he can be seen on The Closer on TNT.  For the last 10 years he has been the executive director of the Sunshine Kids Foundation, providing transportation and events to kids suffering from cancer.

STEPHANIE FARACY (Valerie Wood) was a featured actress in the landmark mini-series The Thorn Birds, and later became a regular on His and Hers and True Colors.  She’s a working guest actress, having recently appeared on Castle, How I Met Your Mother, and Desperate Housewives; and Get Him to the Greek on the big screen.

JIM STAAHL (Frank Fletcher) has segued from comedic actor to comedic writer, having written for numerous adult and kids shows like Sledge Hammer!, Bobby’s World, and Dragon Tales.  His acting career included regular appearances on Mork and Mindy and Curb Your Enthusiasm.  He also teaches comedy writing for the UCLA Extension Writer’s Program.

“I’m disappointed only in the sense that we were trying to aspire to something a little softer and not quite so hard-hitting… and communicating between two male and female adults.  And we did it.”
–Bill Bixby

Goodnight Beantown isn’t available on DVD, but two episodes are on YouTube for streaming in chunks.  There are great fan sites devoted to both Bill Bixby and Mariette Hartley (and I’m grateful to both sites for many of the individual quotes used in this article).  Much more information about their legacy on television and in life can be found there.  These sites are two more examples of the devotion these stars engender in their viewers even today.  And just for fun, here’s a YouTube link to one of the Hartley/Garner Polaroid commercials from 1981.

A final wave Goodnight

Very few actors and actresses like Bixby and Hartley become so welcome on our TV sets and in our living rooms.  Even more rarely do they come together in the same vehicle for our enjoyment.  Despite the changes that were made in order to supposedly “help” the show, nothing anyone altered could replace the basic idea of chemistry.  It is what makes the best characters work, the best relationships work, and the best television shows work.  Mess with that magic and you invite peril.  But there will always be a place in our hearts and on our screens for those we love.

Vital Signs

18 episodes — none unaired
CBS Network
First aired episode:  April 2, 1983
Last aired episode:  January 18, 1984
Aired at Friday 8/7 Central?  No, the most competitive slot that year was Sunday nights.  The show aired at 8/7, then 9:30/8:30, then 8:30/7:30 for a set of reruns late in the ’84 season.

Comments and suggestions welcomed as always.

–Tim R.

News flash:  a gentle and intelligent romantic comedy this week, about two people with very different opinions about almost everything (except how right they might be for each other).  Two of television’s popular performers in a comedy with a few laughs and lots of smarts.  Five quotes:

“…I mean intelligent adult, when people get together and talk and spar with each other.”

…they could probably fall in love, if only they didn’t have to work together.

“How come my opinions are always opinions and yours are always facts?”

They had actually played husband-and-wife previously…

It is what makes the best characters work, the best relationships work, and the best television shows work.

Stay tuned for the late-breaking story this week at Friday 8/7 Central!

–Tim R.

Roddy McDowall as Galen

“This–appliance, I suppose you should call it–is an ordeal.  I have to get up at 4 a.m. and spend three hours in makeup while they mold it on me before I come to work.  It’s unbearably hot.  I insist on a day off in every script so my flesh can breathe.”
–Roddy McDowall, detailing the trials of playing Galen on Planet of the Apes

Making a television series is very difficult, much more than most people realize.  All members of the production work long days (and long nights).  Work takes its toll, corners get cut for time and budget, and quality sometimes suffers.  Even for an ordinary series, production is like a runaway freight train, and anything in its way gets run over.  Imagine what kind of problems ensue for a science fiction show with significant location shooting and major make-up time for most of the cast.  This certainly wasn’t paradise… it was the Planet of the Apes.

Burke and Virdon, literally out of time

For five of six years running (1968-1973) movie houses had played to large crowds with the continuing saga chronicled in the Planet of the Apes films.  CBS believed it would have a definite winner on its hands with a TV series based on the franchise.  While the basic story was similar to the first movie, the TV version involved 1980 astronauts Pete Burke (James Naughton) and Alan Virdon (Ron Harper) crash-landing on Earth in the distant future.  Man had become a lesser slave species in that future time, and the dominant forces were Apes.

General Urko and Dr. Zaius

The most curious of these Apes were the chimpanzees, shown through Galen (Roddy McDowall).  He was a younger, more open-minded ape wanting to find out about these strange new humans, befriending them even though they (and now he) were seen as outlaws by the rest of the Ape community.  Dr. Zaius (Booth Colman) was the intelligent, scientifically minded orangutan, originally Galen’s mentor, who also wanted to “save” the new humans, but only to experiment on them.  The military was mostly gorillas, led by General Urko (Mark Lenard).  He was afraid that these astronauts would lead the remaining passive humans in an insurrection against the Apes, and was therefore motivated to hunt them down and kill them.  Of course, he was literally aping previous human behavior….

“… you’ll destroy me.  As your kind once destroyed its world.  Your science and your machines… very few know your history, and very few will ever know.  Your cities… death and destruction.  We don’t want them.  We don’t even want their memory.  Yes, you did it to yourselves.  As you would do it again….”
–Dr. Zaius

The humans had done it before, just not against the Apes.  Man had hunted down their own kind, almost to the point of extinction.  The “twist” ending of the movie when viewers find out that human civilization had fallen through its own war and violence was part of the initial storyline of the series, with Dr. Zaius and Urko (among a few others) trying to keep that knowledge secret and preserve the Ape status quo.  Ironically, much of Ape society is as violent and aggressive as humans were, if only because of their fears of humans.  Only Galen, through his desire for understanding and friendship across the fear, is willing to create the sympathetic bridge showing the superiority of understanding, no matter what.

If the scripts had shown this intellectual premise more, the series might have been successful.  But the network believed enough people would tune in for Apes and action, and with all the other roadblocks of production, maybe they hoped those would be enough.  They weren’t.

“The scripts were emphasizing action and interaction with the apes rather than deep storylines. The producers would get awfully upset if we didn’t have some kind of action going in the first five pages of a script.”
–Ron Harper

What followed was a mostly straightforward exercise in formula.  Many of the episodes had the basic template of:  our heroes are being chased, one of the trio is captured, the other two figure out how to help him escape, and the three run away again until the next episode.  The design in various forms had worked well enough in the movies previously, and CBS was so sure the idea would gather viewers they bought the series for television with no pilot at all.  Who needed a pilot when there were already five theatrical movies to show how it’s done?

“If the actor does not make that mask come alive, the whole characterization falls apart.”
–Marvin Paige, casting director for Planet of the Apes

Remember, you volunteered.

The biggest concern (initially) was replacing Roddy McDowall, the actor who had played the various lead chimps (Cornelius and Caesar) in four of the five movies.  Thinking he wouldn’t want the weekly grind of television production, the producers were pleasantly surprised to find that McDowall wanted the part, even after all the time he’d already spent under the chimp makeup.  Because of previous problems with the makeup, McDowall had to have surgery to remove cysts that had developed on his eyes, and his face was therefore insured for $1 million dollars from Lloyd’s of London.  His contract also stated he was to be given at least one day off per week in order to rest his face from the toll that the ape makeup took on his skin.  (A four-day work week sounds cushy, but realize he couldn’t eat solid food while wearing the chimp makeup for 12 hours a day!)  Still, with his experience and talent, no one else was better suited to play the part.

Many of the “background” Ape characters were given generic masks used in multiple episodes.  Featured guest stars were also given this type of treatment simply because there wasn’t time to create the kind of tailored appliances that McDowell, Coleman, and Lenard received.  That may have been a blessing in “disguises” for the smaller parts, as Mark Lenard notes about playing General Urko:

Ape soldier and General Urko

“If I’m supposed to report on the set in my makeup at eight in the morning, that means I have to be at the studio by five to be ready on time.  It’s terribly hot in there.  I’m under five layers of fur and leather.”

At least gorilla makeup allowed for solid food, but even then lunch caused problems for Lenard:

“At first, I had to use a mirror to make sure I was getting the food in my mouth.  But now I can eat without the mirror.  I can eat almost everything, but some things are impossible to handle.  I ordered spare ribs one day, and I simply couldn’t manage them.  They sat on my plate and I just looked at them.”

As humans, filming Planet of the Apes wasn’t easy for Naughton and Harper either.  The series used many outdoor locations, primarily on a ranch outside of Malibu.  Instead of enduring makeup hassles, they endured physical ones brought on by the pace of shooting.  Filming began in July during a hot Southern California summer, with the actors often racing for their onscreen lives.

“We were given seven days to do an episode but, I swear, some weeks it felt like we were knocking them out in five days or less.  The human beings in this show never rode horses and so we were always running and always being chased by the apes.  Some directors, particularly if a script was a little thin, would say, ‘Okay, go out there about 2-300 yards and run into the camera.'”
–Ron Harper

Even when they got a chance to cool off, it turned into a physical trial.  You’d think a nice cool dip in the ocean would be a relief, but….

“We had an episode [Tomorrow’s Tide] where Jim and I had to be filmed underwater being menaced by a shark.  We had to go down 35 feet into the ocean, with lead weights tied to our rags, wearing a mask and a breathing device.  They brought in the cameras and a mechanical shark.  At the director’s signal we had to take off the mask and swim around and try to act.  They figured they would save air by starting us at the bottom rather than having us free dive into the water first.  But it was real cold and, after a couple of hours, they basically had to haul us out because we were close to getting hypothermia.”
–Ron Harper

CBS' idea of promotion: Roddy McDowall on The Carol Burnett Show

For their part, the network put more effort into promotion than they did into the series itself, thinking that name recognition and the simple novelty of seeing the incredible makeup was enough.  CBS had bought into a franchise that had made millions of dollars over the last decade, was already well-known by viewers, and brought with it ready-made merchandising galore.  If only the network had remembered to actually produce stories that were consistently worth watching.

There were some good ideas here about large topics like race relations, militaristic and scientific points of view, and political upheaval.  But those ideas weren’t developed as well as they could have been, and it’s hard to marry those ideas with a series format that was really designed to be action/adventure from the start, especially when producers were pressed for time and money.  Action is easy, ideas are hard, and Planet of the Apes was already difficult to make.  Thanks to CBS thinking they were going to have an automatic hit simply due to pedigree, the network scheduled it against NBC comedies Sanford and Son and Chico and the Man, which happened to be the #2 and #3 rated shows on television at the time.

The obvious result was that astronauts Burke and Virdon weren’t just lost in time, they were pretty much lost at sea when the series was canceled after three months and 13 aired episodes.  (Literally lost at sea.  The final aired episode ends with the astronauts and Galen drifting on a raft to who knows where.)  They were luckier than the other network competition, as ABC’s Kodiak only lasted a month (4 episodes), and The Six Million Dollar Man (whose scheduled start time was at the half-hour mark of Planet of the Apes) was only saved by moving it away to an easier time slot.

Well, at least one crash-landing astronaut survived… but he ended up with bionic parts and 100 episodes.

They didn't survive past Christmas

RODDY MCDOWALL (Galen) had such a lengthy showbiz career, it’s a shame he’s best known for a role which never showed his real face.  Starting as a child actor in 1938, he appeared in movies as varied as Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Disney’s That Darn Cat.  A stalwart of the live TV era of the ’50s, he easily segued into a likeable TV presence with series regular roles in The Fantastic Journey and Tales of the Gold Monkey, plus more guest roles than you can count.  In his later years he was a common but distinctive presence in many voice-over productions, including Pirates of Dark WaterThe Black Hole, Pinky and the Brain, and A Bug’s Life.  McDowall passed on due to lung cancer in 1998, a talent definitely missed.

(An aside on McDowall:  He was almost universally loved both in and out of the industry, and one of the best historians of Hollywood.  His own photography is the centerpiece of the Motion Picture Academy’s historical collection, and in due tribute the entire collection is named after him.  He was also an avid archivist of film and video (before the advent of VCRs and DVDs), to the point that he was arrested in 1974 (the same year as Planet of the Apes on TV) for his private collection valued THEN at over $5 million dollars!  He was not charged, and although he was one of the early video “pirates” in theory, his preservation of long-lost gems from the history of Hollywood served a most valuable purpose.)

JAMES NAUGHTON (Pete Burke) won two Tony awards on Broadway for his lead musical roles in 1990’s City of Angels and 1997’s Chicago.  Movie roles included The Paper Chase, The First Wives Club, and The Devil Wears Prada.  On television, he appeared in Faraday and Company, Who’s the Boss?, Brooklyn Bridge, and Gossip Girl.  In recent years he’s hit the cabaret circuit, performing a one-man show to great reviews.

RON HARPER (Alan Virdon) got his TV start on various Westerns, but was best known as the lead character in the war series Garrison’s Gorillas.  Geek fans know him as Uncle Jack in the final season of the original Land of the Lost.  Other significant parts included two years on the soap series Generations and guest parts in Remington Steele, The West Wing, and Cold Case.

BOOTH COLMAN (Dr. Zaius) acted constantly on TV from the ’50’s through the ’70’s, in shows like The Untouchables, Bonanza, The Flying Nun, and Mission:  Impossible.  After a stint on General Hospital in the ’80’s, he made a tradition out of performing as Ebenezer Scrooge onstage in A Christmas Carol, recreating the role over 500 times back in his “home theatre” near Detroit for many, many years.

MARK LENARD (General Urko) was used to makeup, donning pointed ears for the role of Spock’s Vulcan father Sarek on the original Star Trek, a part he revisited multiple times in animated, movie, and subsequent series stories.  In other Star Trek appearances, he also portrayed a Romulan and a Klingon, making him a fan favorite at numerous conventions.  Non-Trek roles included the antagonists in the comedy series Here Come the Brides in the late ’60’s and Cliffhangers in the ’70’s.  He died of multiple myeloma in 1996.  (I had the pleasure of meeting him once, and seeing him perform on stage.  He was a great and gracious man.)

Animated Apes

Despite its limited run on television, the Planet of the Apes franchise was still very successful.  Merchandising and spin-off material included comic books (and a daily syndicated newspaper strip), action figures, novels, even coloring books and an animated series called Return to the Planet of the Apes on Saturday mornings.  Director Tim Burton filmed a remake of the original movie in 2001, although it was not received nearly as well as the previous movies.  Many resources exist that look at the entire saga, but specifics on the TV show are featured on Kassidy Rae’s fantastic site detailing the series, its stars, and its production.  The series is also available on DVD, and it includes the one unaired episode.

“After a while there was a real sense on the set that this show was not long for this world.  There was shock and despair and I think that came with much reluctance because everybody had such high hopes for the series.  The feeling on the set was ‘What happened here?  This was supposed to have been an automatic three-year run.'”
–Ron Harper

High hopes are not enough, nor is a clever gimmick.  Understand that hard work in story, performance, and promotion are necessary, or else shows end too quickly.  In the case of Planet of the Apes, it was like the ancient humans of their storyline:   Through lack of understanding (and lack of better storytelling), they ended up bringing on their own demise.  Once again, they did it to themselves.

Vital Stats

13 aired episodes — one unaired (Many of the aired episodes were later syndicated as TV-movies, splicing two episodes together into one presentation.  Roddy McDowall donned the ape makeup one last time to film linking footage and opening/closing material that was added to these episodes.)
CBS Network
First aired episode:  September 13, 1974 (Yes, Friday the 13th… an ill omen, to be sure)
Last aired episode:  December 20, 1974
Aired at Friday 8/7 Central?  Definitely.  Of course it did.  This was a perfect show for the network thinking in that time slot.  Most of the leads aren’t human!

Comments and suggestions appreciated, as always.

–Tim R.

Back to the future this week, and a visit to a world that’s not ours anymore.  Showing such a world on a TV budget and schedule is difficult enough, but this show had the added feature of needing much of the cast arrive on set three hours early every day just to prepare.  Nothing like a challenge, is there?  Five quotes:

“Your cities… death and destruction.  We don’t want them.  We don’t even want their memory.”

“The producers would get awfully upset if we didn’t have some kind of action going on in the first five pages of a script.”

…was so sure the idea would attract viewers that they actually bought the series for television with no pilot at all.

“I ordered spare ribs one day, and I simply couldn’t manage them.  They sat on my plate and I just looked at them.”

“But it was real cold, and after a couple of hours, they basically had to haul us out because we were getting close to hypothermia.”

Work as hard as you want, and your show may still not be successful.  But the effort is definitely worth it, as you’ll see this week on Friday @ 8/7 Central!

–Tim R.

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