I’m not sure if this was always true, but I remember Tuesday as being a good television night in the 1970s. Let’s see if the network’s offerings in 1972 back up that belief – and if my quest to watch at least one episode of every prime time series from the decade yields any more roadblocks.
ABC Tuesday Night Movie
Marcus Welby, MD
Temperatures Rising is one of the decade’s more fascinating failures; not because it was a good show that inexplicably never found an audience, but because it was a bad show that ABC inexplicably refused to give up on.
Those who claim vaudeville is dead must have missed how it was briefly revived here through an embarrassing selection of bad jokes and broad caricatures. I don’t like to reference race on this blog because the country is race-obsessed enough already, but it’s hard to avoid when summing up Cleavon Little’s performance as Dr. Jerry Noland. His mannerisms, vocal inflections and expressions evoke the kind of unfortunate stereotype that he would wonderfully shatter just two years later in Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles.
Give the series credit for assembling a talented cast of likable veterans and promising newcomers – James Whitmore as the seen-it-all senior doctor on the staff, Joan Van Ark as a hook-up friendly head nurse, Reva Rose giving tired lines more edge than they deserved, and adorable Nancy Fox as the student nurse most likely to have her bottom pinched (it was that kind of show).
When the first season floundered ABC brought it back anyway with Cleavon Little and an all-new cast headed by Paul Lynde. While the “everything is funnier with Paul Lynde” rule still applies, it wasn’t enough to attract new viewers, and The New Temperatures Rising likewise flat-lined….until the network brought it back over the summer, with Nancy Fox back on rounds once again.
Later on that night’s schedule, Marcus Welby could only shake his head at all those malpractice suits waiting to happen on that show that would not die, as he calmly tended to patients in a more professional manner.
The New CBS Tuesday Night Movie
This was the lineup most viewers were watching on Tuesdays in 1972. Maude was an instant hit in its first season, finishing at #4 in the Nielsens. I don’t own or revisit the Norman Lear shows now, but I have seen it, and may have been a regular viewer back in the day, mostly for Adrienne Barbeau.
At #3 that season was Hawaii Five-O, still going strong in its fifth year. And If the movie that followed didn’t look good, people switched back to ABC to check out Marcus Welby, which finished at #13 that year.
The Bold Ones: The New Doctors
If you read this entry earlier you noticed that Wednesday's lineup had been reviewed instead of Tuesdays. Oops.
The correct schedule is above. Bonanza was entering its final season after a long and impressive run. The highlight was "Forever," a heartbreaking story written and directed by Michael Landon that serves as an unofficial tribute to Dan Blocker, who died prior to the season’s start. When Ben and Joe grieve for the latest in a long line of Joe’s ill-fated love interests, their tears were really in memory of their departed costar and friend.
The Bold Ones: The New Doctors was not as interesting as other series released under that umbrella, including "The Senator" and "The Lawyers." It was hard for me to accept E.G. Marshall in a lab coat so soon after his remarkable four seasons on The Defenders as attorney Lawrence Preston. The one intriguing element is how the show explored treatments that were on the cutting edge of medicine back in 1972, treatments you'd expect to be mainstream by now, yet many of them never advanced beyond the experimental stage.
The Don Knotts Show (1970)
San Francisco International Airport (1970)
The Headmaster (1970)
The Man and the City (1971)
The Chicago Teddy Bears (1971)