We are nearing the first week of this exploration of whether I have (or can) watch at least one episode of every prime time television series that aired in the 1970s. And so far I’m surprised I’m doing so well. I figured the older the shows the less likely it would be for all of them to be available somewhere, but thus far there are only a handful of shows from 1970 that I’ve never had a chance to enjoy (or at least watch). Will the Friday lineups add to that list, or will be sail smoothly into a groovy 1970 weekend? Let’s find out.
The Brady Bunch
Nanny and the Professor
The Partridge Family
Love American Style
This is Tom Jones
What a great lineup. The Brady Bunch and The Partridge Family are obviously two of the most enduringly popular family sitcoms of the 1970s. And while Nanny and the Professor lasted just 54 episodes, only about half of what is typically necessary for syndication, the series regularly popped up on local and cable stations for the next 30 years. It also had one of the decade’s more memorable but endearingly loopy theme songs. No DVD release yet, sadly, unless you look into unofficial channels.
That Girl was the subject of the very first Comfort TV blog entry back on May 22, 2012. The gist of the piece was about how this wonderful series did not end the way viewers expected, with the wedding of Ann and Don, because Marlo Thomas thought that would send the wrong message to young women. In 1970 married couples with children comprised 40% of American households. Today, that number has dropped to 20%. I guess they got the message.
Love American Style also explored romance and attraction outside of marriage, with stories that were mostly trite and silly, but fun to watch now for the appearances of some of the top TV stars of the day. This is also where Happy Days was work-shopped before becoming another iconic ‘70s show.
You certainly wouldn’t expect Carol Burnett or Jim Nabors to duet with Janis Joplin, but Tom Jones? He made it happen on his variety series. Didn’t help in the ratings, but the performances endure thanks to YouTube.
The High Chaparral
The Name of the Game
We’re past the heyday of the TV western but The High Chaparral still had one last season to explore the culture clashes between the cattle-ranching Cannon family, the Apaches and the Mexicans in Arizona territory. Always liked Henry Darrow in this show, which thankfully aired before the era in which actors were accused of cultural appropriation.
This was also the final season for The Name of the Game, an ambitious 90-minute drama featuring Robert Stack, Gene Barry and Tony Franciosa, supported by Susan Saint James in her usual young, cute and sassy sidekick role. Each episode delved into the workings of a major publishing conglomerate and the stories published in their magazines, a wide-open premise that took viewers into international intrigue, corporate battles, political scandals and celebrity misbehavior.
I managed to catch quite a few episodes during its sporadic syndicated appearances, and always found the Gene Barry stories most intriguing. I wish magazines still had the status they did when the series’ Howard Publications was in business.
Bracken’s World was one of the decade’s more ambitious failures. It offered viewers a peek behind the curtain into how a major movie studio was run. As first conceived “Bracken” was the original Charlie Townsend – the man in charge whose voice was heard but who was never seen. That changed later when Leslie Nielsen joined the cast in that role. From how the executives and creative talent react when called into his office, one gets the impression that everyone on Bracken’s payroll is one bad decision away from unemployment.
CBS Friday Night Movie
Only two shows to cover here, both short-lived.
In CBS promos for the medical drama The Interns, the network proudly proclaimed: “It’s about…what it’s all about.” Yeah, not encouraging. But the couple of episodes that have turned up online certainly held my interest.
Broderick Crawford plays the gruff but lovable veteran doctor who oversees the ongoing educations of five interns. From that cast only Mike Farrell went on to bigger and better things, but it’s a talented ensemble. I also enjoyed seeing Elaine Giftos, another charismatic ‘70s star who deserved better roles, as Farrell’s wife.
The Headmaster was Andy Griffith’s follow-up series to his classic Mayberry sitcom. As you might guess from the title, he plays the headmaster of a prep school. Sorry to say, I have to add this one to the list of shows I’ve never seen. It was promoted as a series that blended dramatic and comedic stories (Jerry Van Dyke plays the football coach), which wasn’t a common formula back then, and I’ve always been a sucker for shows with a school setting. Sounds like something I’d enjoy.
The Don Knotts Show (1970)
San Francisco International Airport (1970)
The Headmaster (1970)