Wednesday, July 10, 2024

My Journey Through 1970s TV; Tuesday Nights, 1974


Quick – when you think about classic 1970s television, what series comes to mind first? For many people that show will be the one that debuted this season, and remained a staple on ABC for the rest of the decade – though it looked very different at the end of its run than it did at the beginning.


Let’s take a look at that show – and the rest of the networks’ Tuesday night schedules in 1974 –will there be any shows that have to be added to my “missed” list?


Tuesday, 1974



Happy Days

Tuesday Movie of the Week

Marcus Welby, MD


Spun off from a Love, American Style segment that, to my best recollection, didn’t have audiences clamoring for more, Happy Days nonetheless became one of the decade’s signature shows, celebrating the 1950s from a 1970s perspective. 



I wonder if anyone would watch a show now that looks back at the early 2000s with nostalgic fondness. Look – rugby shirts and trucker hats!


If it has been a while since your last visit to Arnold’s, you may be surprised at how differently the series’ first season plays than those that followed. “Rock Around the Clock” was the opening theme, there was some guy named Chuck who claimed to be part of the Cunningham family, and the series lived fully in the time it was set, instead of just throwing out the occasional reference to Howdy Doody or Marilyn Monroe to remind viewers where they were.


It was also a quieter show in its first season - the series was filmed without the studio audience that in subsequent seasons would scream every time Henry Winkler entered a scene. He was there from the start but not yet “The Fonz” of legend. Winkler traded in his beige windbreaker for a black leather jacket in season 2, when the series ascended into the top five. Coincidence? 




Good Times


Hawaii Five-O

Barnaby Jones


Happy Days was not yet the ratings juggernaut it would become, so in 1974 at least Tuesdays belonged to CBS, with three of its four scheduled shows ranking in the top ten.


Good Times (#7), like Happy Days, began as an ensemble family sitcom, but became something else after one character exploded onto the popular culture, in this case J.J., as played by Jimmie Walker. Sadly, Walker never had the career second act that Henry Winkler eventually found, which is why he’s still saying ‘Dy-no-mite!” on commercials for Medicare supplement insurance.



MASH was the evening’s highest rated program at #5, and Hawaii Five-O finished at #10. If you were all in on CBS by then, you probably stuck around for Barnaby Jones as well. 





NBC World Premiere Movie

Police Story


This was the final shift for Officers Malloy and Reed on Adam-12. Seven seasons is a great run, and NBC clearly saw an audience for police shows on Tuesdays by keeping Police Story right where it was last year. 



And between the two, a movie series to replace two shows that didn’t stick from last year’s schedule – The Magician and Chase. Would it work? Whether it did or not The NBC World Premiere Movie certainly served up some interesting diversions.  


“Terror on the 40th Floor” was a small-screen version of The Towering Inferno, with John Forsythe and a group of Christmas party revelers getting stuck in a building with fire slowly rising from the basement. Good cheesy fun. 


“The Disappearance of Flight 412” with Glenn Ford is a great little UFO story that can be watched on YouTube. And if you’ve ever wanted to see Mike Brady make obscene phone calls, you’ll want to check out Robert Reed in “The Secret Night Caller.”


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. For only 3 channels, there sure was plenty of good shows to choose from Tues nights! What I remember most about that first season of Happy Days was how good it was compared to the rest of the series. My parents who were teens in the 1950s always watched it with us kids and they just loved it. As much as I like Henry Winkler, when The Fonz took off, my parents stopped watching and it stopped being special.

    1. Yes- there are many who will say that while the middle seasons were clearly the most popular, the early episodes were more substantive.

  2. Somebody said once The Wonder Years was what Happy Days should have been.
    But it did bring the phrase "jump the shark" into pop culture vocabulary. Truly most ludicrous plot of any TV show before or since.

  3. I remember watching GOOD TIMES instead of HAPPY DAYS at this time since I refused to jump on bandwagons, including that of "The Fonz", who was captivating my grade school classmates then. By the time when HD hit its popularity peak, I was usually missing it, since my Boy Scout Troop had its weekly meetings Tuesday nights.

  4. Technically, the episode "Love and the Television Set" shown on Love American Style was a throwaway to use the failed pilot for Happy Days. Once American Graffitti was a hit at the movies, ABC reconsidered.
    I preferred the pre-audience, pre-videotape Happy Days. The first 2 seasons were a lot more realistic and edgier (at least compared to what it later became). Richie got drunk, snuck out of the house late at night, went to strip clubs, tried to snap a girl's bra, etc. Once it became such a hit with kids, ABC felt they needed to curb those storylines.

    1. Interestingly, Love and the Television Set was actually set in the EARLY 1950s. Not a rock-and-roll song to be found.

    2. The Happy Days pilot really does have more of a "Summer of '42" feel.