Monday, June 10, 2024

My Journey Through 1970s TV; Monday Nights, 1974


On we go on our journey through the 1970s prime time schedules, thinking about all the hard-working folks in 1974 trudging home for what they hope will be a pleasant Monday evening of television. What options await them, and will I need to add any more shows to my “missed” list? Let’s find out.


Monday, 1974



Born Free

NBC Monday Night Movie


With Lotsa Luck and Diana both quick departures from the 1973 Monday lineup, NBC introduced another new series, this time one with a familiar legacy. 



The story of Joy and George Adamson and an orphaned lion cub named Elsa was first told in the 1960 book Born Free. It was then adapted into a 1966 film, which was well reviewed and well received, and may be best remembered today for its Oscar-winning theme song. Most prefer the Andy Williams version, but I’ve always been partial to the one by Matt Monro.


The NBC series based on the film starred two familiar TV faces, Gary Collins and Diana Muldaur, as the Adamsons, and was filmed on location in Kenya. Would this adaptation find an audience as well? Sadly, no – just 13 episodes were made plus the pilot.


And that’s a real shame, because this was a truly wonderful series. 


Collins and Muldaur are both wonderful here, the scripts contained positive lessons about nature and conservation without banging viewers over the head, and the cinematography was among the best for any series in this decade. Born Free was not just impressively shot but creatively shot, often cinematic in its beauty and composition, taking full advantage of the rugged but beautiful East Africa landscapes.



Watch “A Matter of Survival,” available on YouTube and guest starring another familiar TV face in Susan Dey, and see if you don’t agree that this was a series that deserved a better fate.


At least it got a DVD release, as well as occasional syndication over the decades on stations like the Disney Channel. I still wonder if Muldaur and Dey reminisced about their time in Africa when both were appearing on L.A. Law.







Medical Center


In its 20th and final season, Gunsmoke was still bringing in enough viewers to rank #28 for the season – a testament to the enduring appeal of Marshal Dillon, Miss Kitty, Doc and Festus. 



The series kicked off a solid and well-received Monday lineup, but I still think the transition from Gunsmoke to Maude seems incongruous. It’s hard to imagine the audience that visited the Long Branch Saloon every week would stick around for a trip to Tuckahoe. But apparently a lot of people did take that trip as Maude ranked at #9 for the year, followed by Rhoda at #6.




The Rookies

Monday Night Football


If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. ABC recycled its previous Monday night schedule with great results. Now in its third season, The Rookies remained in the top 20 at #18, even after the replacement of Michael Ontkean (Officer Willie Gillis) with Bruce Fairbairn (Officer Chris Owens). 



Shows Missed:

The Don Knotts Show (1970)

San Francisco International Airport (1970)

Nancy (1970)

The Headmaster (1970)

The Man and the City (1971)

Search (1972)

Assignment: Vienna (1972)

The Delphi Bureau (1972)

Jigsaw (1972)

The Little People (1972)

The Sixth Sense (1972)

Tenafly (1973)

Faraday & Company (1973)

Love Story (1973)



  1. I don't remember Born Free. If it was opposite Gunsmoke, I know why it wasn't seen in our house.
    It was strange to have Maude follow Gunsmoke. I can't think of two more different shows.

    1. Obviously back then when a new show that looks interesting was up against a favorite series, the old reliable always won out. Understandable, but we lost a few good shows before VCRs came along.

  2. I remember wanting to watch Born Free when they showed the movie on TV, but by the time the television program came on I was 12 and more into comic books plus my parents watched the Rookies on our 1 Television then Maude and Rhoda.

    1. I remember the Rookies. A lot of those Aaron Spelling crime shows of that day were aimed at young viewers. Its spin-off SWAT was the show to watch if you were a pre-teen boy. Charlie's Angels after that.

    2. I can still hear the SWAT theme in my head, lol.