Monday, September 19, 2022

Fall Television Preview - 1977

Fall is almost here, and that means it's time for the new Fall line-up of television shows.  Today, we'll be looking back at TV Guide's "Fall Preview" issue, from 1977.  That's 45 years ago, this month!

We will begin with the Saturday morning children's programming.  I don't really remember any of these NBC shows.  I guess I was already too old to be watching Saturday morning cartoons.  Although....are we really ever too old for cartoons?

I looked up The Adventures of Muhammad Ali.  It was cancelled after just 13 episodes.  According to The Encyclopedia of American Animated Television Shows, "It was perhaps the most clumsily animated, written, and acted series in television animation history."  There are several episodes available to watch on YouTube, but unless you are into self-torture, I would recommend passing on them.  If anyone is morbidly curious, and wants to watch just the show's opening segment, you can click below.  The music is kind of "disco-y."

ABC's Saturday morning schedule included some familiar old faces, and introduced some new ones.  The Wonder Twins were making their debut in The All-New Superfriends Hour.  And who knew that Bigfoot had his own show?  Or that he raised a kid who was lost in the woods, and together they fought crime and aliens?

The Bigfoot and Wildboy show was created by Sid and Marty Kroft and according to Wikipedia, was inspired by the two-part episode of The Six Million Dollar Man, in which Steve Austin meets Bigfoot.  Here is just the intro/outro for the show, but there are full episodes available on YouTube.  If you ask me, Bigfoot looks a little bit like Chewbacca.  Maybe they should give him his own "land" at Disneyland.  They could build it right next to the already existing Wookie World, and call it Bigfoot Bay.  Or at the very least, give him his own ride at Knott's Berry Farm!  ;-)

CBS was also featuring some old favorites, and introducing some new characters, as well.

The Robonic Stooges featured The Three Stooges characters, as crime-fighting cyborg superheros.  HUH???  It was animated by Hanna-Barbera, and was just one of several segments of a show called, The SkatebirdsThe Skatebirds was similar to The Banana Splits show, and featured actors dressed in bird costumes (and one cat), on roller skates.  The name of the cat character was "Scat Cat," and was voiced by Scatman Crothers.  Seven years earlier, Mr. Crothers had voiced a character with the exact same name, for Walt Disney Production's The Aristocats.  I'm a little surprised that Disney didn't try to sue Hanna-Barbera into the middle of the next century.  Here's the show's intro:

Moving away from Saturday morning cartoons.....the 1977 Emmy Award's were airing on Sunday, but the night before, David Sheehan was interviewing some of the Emmy "hopefuls."  (Fonzie and Farrah alert!)

Welcome Back Kotter was beginning it's 3rd season, with "The Sweathogs" entering 11th grade and reminiscing about their previous two years (seasons) in high school.  And The Bionic Woman (Lindsay Wagner) was being given a new crime-fighting partner, "Max" the Bionic dog, for her 3rd and final season.

The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries was starting it's 2nd season with a visit to Transylvania, and some cameos by a few classic Universal Monsters.  The show was a Universal Production, and the title characters "lived" on the Universal Studios backlot, in houses located on the famous "Colonial Street/Wisteria Lane."

And Steve Austin was battling sharks in another Universal television production, The Six Million Dollar Man.  Gee, he sure had his hands full all of the time.  When it wasn't Bigfoot, it was Jaws, or he was battling Fembots with Jamie Sommers!

Apparently, it was "Dracula Night" on television.  The Wonderful World of Disney was showing a repeat of their 1973 made-for-television movie,  The Mystery In Dracula's Castle.  The movie featured Johnny Whitaker and Scott Kolden as brothers.  Incidentally, they also worked together in Sid and Marty Kroft's Sigmund and the Seas Monsters," that same year.

The 1977 Emmy Awards show was being hosted by Robert Blake, and Angie Dickinson.

A special TV Guide "Close Up" listed the Emmy nominees:

The Mike Douglas Show and Dinah! were "interview shows" which ran daily, Monday through Friday.  Bruce Jenner (who is most famous for co-starring in the film, Can't Stop The Music, with The Village People) was guest-hosting The Mike Douglas Show this week, along with his wife (no not that one...the first one).  And Betty White was being interviewed by Dinah Shore.

NBC weatherman (at the time) Pat Sajak, was hosting a special "Fall Preview" show.  And the local channel, KTTV, was airing the fourth and final installment of the "Nixon/Frost" Watergate interviews.

A new show, Young Dan'l Boone, was premiering that night, but was canceled after only 4 episodes aired.  The Betty White Show was also new, and lasted for only 14 episodes.  Maude was beginning it's 7th and final season.  And Patrick McGoohan was starring in a new show, Rafferty, which was canceled after only 10 episodes.

Little House On The Prairie was beginning it's 4th season:

On Tuesday, a special one-hour Happy Days episode was kicking off a 5th season, with Fonzie, the Cunningham's, and friends, vacationing in Hollywood.  In part two of the episode, Fonzie jumps over a shark while on water skis.  That particular episode of Happy Days is what eventually inspired the phrase, "Jumping the shark."

Three's Company was beginning it's 2nd season (and it's first full season, after being a mid-season replacement in the Spring).  And Soap was debuting this week.  The reason the ad states, "You've heard about them for weeks....." is because the show was considered to be very controversial (at the time), due to it's subject matter.  Multiple religious groups attempted to get the show canceled, before it even aired.  The show did debut as scheduled, and lasted four seasons.  The first season's episodes all began with a pre-show warning, about Soap's "adult content."

The Richard Pryor Show was another controversial show, at the time.  It was canceled after just four episodes, probably because it was scheduled opposite the very successful ABC shows, Happy Days, and Laverne and Shirley.

CBS was airing a "made-for-television" Spider-Man movie.  The movie was actually released theatrically internationally, and it also acted as a pilot for a series which debuted in the Spring of 1978.

Eight Is Enough was starting it's 2nd season.  (Hey, I buy Dick Van Patten's pet food, "Natural Balance," for my cats!)

Cheryl Ladd was being added to the cast of Charlie's Angels, following Farrah Fawcett's departure after only one season.

Does anyone remember The Gong Show?

The Waltons was beginning it's 6th season, and it's first following the departure of Richard Thomas as "John-Boy."  Welcome Back Kotter was airing it's second episode within the same week.  This one was an hour-long, and had Mr. Kotter's wife delivering twins.

The new series, CHiPs, was debuting.  That "clip-out" survey is interesting.  I don't remember seeing anything like that in TV Guide previously, or since.

Barney Miller was starting it's 4th season, and Carter Country and The Redd Foxx Comedy Hour were both debuting.

Peter Frampton was hosting the Rock Music Awards.  The ad lists Cher as a "special guest," but the actual listing names them both as "performing hosts."

The Making of Star Wars, a "Stellar Spectacular," was being hosted by C-3P0 and R2-D2.  Star Wars had premiered in movie theaters, just four months earlier.

Lynda Carter was returning for a 2nd season of "Wonder Woman," after a retooling and renaming of the show.

Sanford Arms was a spin-off of Sanford and Son, following Redd Foxx's departure from the original show.  The new series was canceled after only 4 episodes.

Chico And The Man was returning for it's 4th and final season, following the death of 22 year-old Freddie Prinze ("Chico"), earlier in the year.

The made-for-television movie, Curse Of The Black Widow, was airing on "The ABC Friday Night Movie."  It had an all-star cast;  Patty Duke Astin, Donna Mills, Tony Franciosa, June Lockhart, Vic Morrow, June Allyson, Sid Caesar, Max Gail, and Roz Kelly (Pinky Tuscadero!).  The director was Dan Curtis, who directed the TV series, Dark Shadows, and also the 1975 TV movie, Trilogy of Terror.

I was getting ready to say it's too bad that made-for-television movies like this can't be watched today, but I decided to check YouTube, and there it was!  Here is just the minute-long promo for The ABC Friday Night Movie:

For anyone who is interested, here is the entire movie.  I just watched it for the first time and thought it was pretty good, as far as 1970s horror films go.  And here's something the 21:30 mark, there is a chase scene through "Enchanted Village."  This small "amusement" park was located in Buena Park, CA, and originally opened as "Japanese Village and Deer Park."  It had a change of ownership, theme, and name, in 1976, and ended up closing altogether in the Fall of 1977.

Logan's Run was debuting this week.  The series was based on the successful 1976 film of the same name. Gregory Harrison was playing "Logan 5."  He would later go on to play "Gonzo" in seven seasons of Trapper John, M.D.  Heather Menzies was playing "Jessica 6."  As a teenager, she had been cast in the role of Louisa von Trapp, in The Sound of MusicLogan's Run was canceled after 14 episodes.

Oh, and James Garner was back for his 4th season on The Rockford Files.

Jack Klugman was returning for his 2nd season as a medical examiner, in "Quincy."

Every year, the "Fall Preview" edition of TV Guide would have a special section, with descriptions of all the upcoming new shows.  Here are the descriptions of the 22 new shows, debuting in the Fall of 1977.  Some were having their premieres that week (as seen earlier in the post).  Others would be debuting in the coming weeks.  Many of these will leave you scratching your head and saying, "Gee, I don't remember that one!"

The Love Boat soon will be making another run......  It had started out with three separate television "pilot" movies in 1976 and 1977, prior to becoming a regular series in the Fall of 1977.  And now, 45 years later, The Love Boat is returning to TV (next month), as a "reality" dating show.  I'll pass!


Lou Grant starred Ed Asner, in the title role.  His character had started out on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and after 7 seasons, spun-off with a show of his own which lasted 5 seasons.

Patrick Duffy was starring in The Man From Atlantis.  This was just one year before he would be cast as Bobby Ewing, in the long-running nighttime soap opera, Dallas.

I hope everyone enjoyed this time traveling visit to 1977's "Television-land"!

****Update - 9-20-22****

I'm adding this listing from the same issue of TV Guide, to show that the Disney film, Mystery In Dracula's Castle was actually being shown on Disney's anthology program called, World of Disney.  Over the years, that show has also been called,  Walt Disney's Disneyland, Walt Disney Presents, Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color, The Wonderful World of Disney, Disney's Wonderful World, Walt Disney, The Disney Sunday Movie, and The Magical World of DisneyI guess "the people in charge" could never make up their minds about a title, and just stick with it!