Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea - Monday nights at 8:00 ABC / 1964-1968
Longest-running Irwin Allen produced
series, started out as a serious adventure series with cold-war overtones
and fantastic special effects, but as the years went on it degenerated into
unbelievable silliness. During the last seasons, it seemed that every week
a crewman swore he saw a monster onboard the 'Seaview' and every week they'd
treat him like he's crazy - even though the week before there was a monster
onboard, and again the week before that! Still, it's a lot of fun to watch
and the underwater scenes are unbeatable.
1964 Commercials -Does She or Doesn't She? / Things Go Better With Coke / Sea and Ski suntan lotion / Flavor Straws / Cheerios / Mr. Bubble
1964 will be remembered for: Bewitched casts an eight-year
long spell on ABC. Ed Sullivan was in his 17th year, What's My Line in its
16th season, Red Skelton in year 14, I've Got A Secret, Ozzie and Harriet
and Jack Benny in year 13, Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color in an 11th
year and they all got renewed (except Jack Benny).
That Was The Week That Was - Monday nights at 9:30 NBC / 1964-1965
A mid-season replacement show from January that centered on biting political satire - a first for American primetime television. Nancy Ames sang the headlines to start each show, featuring Elliot Reid (the first season host), David Frost, Alan Alda, Henry Morgan, Buck Henry and other comics. Tom Lehrer wrote many of the clever songs on the series and released an album of the show's best tunes.
The Andy Williams Show began a five-year run on NBC in 1962.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. - Tuesday nights at 8:30 NBC / 1964-1968
This spy drama just missed the top 25 in 1964. This first
season was filmed in black and white and is by far the best. Napoleon Solo
was a villain in the Bond book 'Goldfinger' - NBC (with Ian Fleming's permission)
turned him into a smooth super-secret agent for TV.Ratings went up in 1965
as the show became a cult craze among teenagers. The popularity of 'Batman'
in 1966 caused NBC to shift the show's focus to humor - and ratings went south
as the scripts kept getting dumber and dumber. In 1967, an attempt was made
to make the show more serious again but that lasted only a half-season. The
first U.N.C.L.E. car was based on a 1965 Dodge Charger. Originally the U.N.C.L.E.
agents got out of jams by employing 'McGiver'-like solutions, but quickly
came to rely on more far out Bond-ian gadgets. A spinoff,
'The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.', ran for one season in 1966.
George Burns flopped (again) in a sitcom without Gracie - Wendy and Me. George played the old man downstairs from a young newlywed couple. Breaking the fourth wall, Burns directed most of his comments into the camera like a commentator on the 'action' taking place upstairs. Not as kinky as it sounds.
Karen, starring Debbie Watson, has a one year run on NBC, as part of a rotating trio of shows under the umbrella of 90 Bristol Court. Midseason, the 90 Bristol Court concept was gone and Karen flew solo until the end of the season. Karen theme song was by The Beach Boys.
Other One Season Wonders
Dennis Weaver left the hit show 'Gunsmoke' to star in his own series. Kentucky Jones cast him as a down home veterinarian who takes in an orphaned Chinese boy. Weaver hit in the seventies with 'McCloud'.
Mr. Broadway was an acclaimed hour-long drama starring Craig Stevens ('Peter Gunn') that was quickly cancelled.
The Entertainers - a variety show with rotating hosts Carol Burnett and Bob Newhart - was a surprise failure.
Both Carol and Bob had hit CBS shows
eventually - Carol Burnett three years later and Bob Newhart eight years later.
A popular variety show guest, this was Newhart's second variety show failure.
His first came in 1961.
Shindig - Wednesday nights at 8:30pm ABC 1964-1965
Shindig started out life as a half-hour show, got good ratings and by January of 1965, the show was expanded to a full hour. In the Fall of 1965, the show was split into two half-hour shows, broadcasting on Thursday and Saturday nights. On the Fall 1965 opener, broadcast from London (this would continue periodically), guests included The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, The Byrds and The Everly Brothers. The Who and every other British invasion band played on 'Shindig', and the show spawned a plethora of imitators, including a hoard of local music shows. On January of 1966, a year and a half after the series debuted, it was canceled to make room on ABC's schedule for 'Batman', which was also scheduled to run two nights a week.
Bonanza was seen Sunday nights at 9 on
NBC. 1964-65 was the first season the show ended the year at number one -
it was also Pernell Roberts' last season. Bonanza' stayed in the number one
spot for three years. It took Pernell Roberts 15 years to get another regular
series, 'Trapper John, MD'.
Burke's Law began a second of three years with a new timeslot, Wednesdays at 9:30. In the third season, the show changed format to Amos Burke, Secret Agent, hoping to cash in on the spy craze sweeping TV and movies. It didn't work.
McHale's Navy was in the third of a four
year run. The format was changed a bit for season four as the gang moved from
their South Pacific island to the Italian coast.
Here's a preview of ABC's great sitcom lineup on Thursday nights, in 1964 - their version of "Must See TV": The Flintstones (season 5), Donna Reed (season 7), My Three Sons (season 5), Bewitched (season 1), Peyton Place (season 1) and The Jimmy Dean Show (season 2).
World War II air action was the star as 12 O'Clock High debuted for a three year run. Robert Lansing starred as Brigadier General Savage, leader of a crack team of bombers. Savage was killed at the start of season two in 1965 and Paul Burke moved up to lead actor.
Other Notable Shows
The Jack Paar Show, Wagon Train, The Outer Limits, Candid Camera, Ben Casey.
First season for Gilligan's Island's three-year tour and Jonny Quest has a one year run - extended to decades in Saturday morning reruns.
Second year for: The Fugitive, The Danny Kaye Show, The Patty Duke Show, The Hollywood Palace, The Jimmy Dean Show and Petticoat Junction.
Second (and last) year for Mr. Novak
and The Outer Limits.
For the 1964-1965 season, Buddy Ebsen (Jed Clampett on 'The Beverly Hillbillies') hosted the CBS fall season preview show. CBS Sunday Night shows - which began at 6:00pm.
Petticoat Junction was a big hit in 1964.
The Bailey's of Balboa was a flop with a well-known cast, a sort of Beverly Hillbillies set in a Marina - starring Paul Ford, Clint Howard, Sterling Holloway, Judy Carne and John Dehner. This show was produced as a result of some shady kickback deal that got a very powerful CBS executive fired.
BATTLE OF THE NETWORK HICKS:
No Time For Sergeants was a TV series
based on the hit movie that spawned The Andy Griffith Show (he was of the
breakout star of the film). The success of Andy's series begat Gomer Pyle,
USMC in 1964, the story of a bumbling private in the Marines. It, too, was
a ratings smash. The 1964 TV series version of No Time For Sergeants was basically
the same premise as Gomer Pyle - ABC even programmed it against The Andy Griffith
Show, but it didn't make a dent in Griffith's huge ratings. At year's end,
Gomer Pyle, USMC hit the top ten and No Time For Sergeants hit the bricks.
In 1969, Jim Nabors told CBS he wouldn't continue playing the bufoonish Gomer
any longer and graduated to a one-hour variety series. Nabors cast his Gomer
Pyle, USMC co-stars Frank Sutton and Ronnie Schell in his new show (The Jim
Nabors Hour, 1969-1971) because he enjoyed working with them and didn't want
to see them lose their jobs.
Munsters vs Addams
The Addams Family and The Munsters both debuted in 1964, both shows centering around a family of freaks - and fans have debated which was the better series ever since. Both shows lasted two years, got medium ratings and both were enjoyable television. There were reunion TV-movies for both series as well, but none were as good as the original episodes. The Munsters, seen Sunday nights on CBS featured two cast members (Fred Gwynne and Al Lewis) from an earlier Sunday night comedy - Car 54 Where Are You (1961-1963, NBC).
Year two for the identical cousins. BIG STARS BOMB ON TELEVISION:
Forties' box office champ Mickey Rooney flopped in his 1964 nautical sitcom effort Mickey - despite the fact it was not a bad show.
The Bing Crosby Show cast Bing as a family man. He was anything but in real life. When Bing remarried, he dumped the family members he had been celebrating Christmas with on TV for years and replaced them with his new family. He was a heck of a businessman, tho - Bing Crosby's production company was responsible for many hit shows of the Sixties, including Ben Casey and a 1964 entry on CBS - Slattery's People, a political drama with Richard Crenna that made it through a season and a half.
The Tycoon, a sitcom starring Walter Brennan as a rich businessman on ABC, failed against The Man From Uncle and The Red Skelton Show on Tuesday nights. This TV character was totally against type for Brennan. His earlier hit series, The Real McCoys (where he played a sly, old country coot) had just ended a six year run in 1963. Brennan's next series after 'The Tycoon' was The Guns of Will Sonnett (a 1967 western) was more to his audience's liking, lasting two years. ABC replaced The Tycoon with O.K. Crackerby, starring Burl Ives as the richest man in the world. It failed too.
The Rogues had an all-star, international
cast but not enough viewers. Charles Boyer, David Niven and Gig Young played
well-dressed, sophisticated con artists who used their skills for good - mostly.
My Favorite Martian - Sunday nights at 7:30pm CBS 1963-1966
This oddball sitcom was the story of two single guys - one younger, one an older 'Uncle', who live together in a small apartment and go to great lengths to keep their landlord, the cop and the rest of the town from discovering their terrible secret. Starring Bill Bixby as Tim O'Hara, and Ray Walston as 'Uncle' Martin O'Hara. Typical plot: 'Uncle' Martin can't get it back down, and he and Tim frantically try to conceal his protrusions from their landlord, Mrs. Brown - who is growing suspicious that the boys upstairs are hiding something. Apparently, this was TV's first gay sitcom...
New for '64: Fess Parker starred as Daniel Boone, (NBC, 1964 - 1970) following his TV success as Davy Crockett. The show owed much of its success to the theme song: "Daniel Boone was a man... Was a biiiiig man..." Co-star Ed Ames (Boone's friend Mingo) was dropped from the show in 1968.
The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo ran one season on NBC with the voice of Jim Backus, this time portraying his cartoon alter-ego as various historical figures.
TV's Most Sexist Show? My Living Doll - Sunday nights at 9:00pm CBS 1964-1965
'My Living Doll', starring Bob Cummings
('Love That Bob'), was one of the craziest premises ever - bizarre even for
a sitcom of the Sixties. Cummings was seen as Dr. Bob McDonald, a Psychiatrist
who has a live-in robot/patient played by Julie Newmar. Of course, she initially
arrives at the doctor's penthouse apartment wearing only a sheet.Robot AF
709 is paired with Dr. Bob specifically to learn how to become the perfect
woman. In 1964, this meant learning to cook, clean and be enticingly obedient.
Behind the scenes, the two costars hated each other and fought often - leading
to Cummings walking off the set and leaving the