Monday, March 10, 2014

This Week in Television History: March 2014 PART II

Listen to me on TV CONFIDENTIAL:

As always, the further we go back in Hollywood history, the more that fact and legend become intertwined. It's hard to say where the truth really lies.

March 11, 1989

COPS debuts on Fox. The hit reality-based television show COPS premieres on the Fox television network, and audiences hear the reggae beat of its distinctive theme song, Inner Circle's "Bad Boys," for the very first time.

Created by the producing team of John Langley and Malcolm Barbour, COPS placed cameras and production crews in the car with real patrol officers around the country as they went on raids and did whatever was necessary to catch the perpetrators of various drug-related crimes. The pilot episode, like the rest of that debut season, was based in Broward County, Florida, and followed members of the Broward County Sheriff's Office. The actor Burt Lancaster provided the voice-over for the pilot episode, but the rest of the show, shot documentary-style, was not accompanied by any narration.

At the time, Fox was only a fledgling television network, having launched in October 1986. The network took a chance on COPS after other major networks passed on it, leaping on Langley and Barbour's idea in the middle of a five-month-long strike by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) during the summer of 1988. A reality-based show was ideal for the network at the time, as it would require no writers and was relatively inexpensive to produce.

COPS surprised the industry by becoming a hit; it is now one of the longest-running TV shows in history, with more than 700 episodes airing between 1989 and 2008. Its success spawned an entire new genre of reality programming that would gain traction during the 1990s and become a major cultural phenomenon by the next decade. Like any touchstone of popular culture, COPS has inspired numerous imitators--including the John Langley-produced series Jail and Street Patrol--and has been parodied extensively, most notably by the Comedy Central series Reno 911!

March 12, 1974
Wonder Woman debuted on ABC-TV. The show later went to CBS-TV. 
Wonder Woman's first broadcast appearance in live-action television was a television movie made in 1974 for ABC. Written by John D. F. Black, the TV movie resembles the Wonder Woman of the "I Ching" period. Wonder Woman (Cathy Lee Crosby) did not wear the comic-book uniform, demonstrated no apparent super-human powers, had a "secret identity" of Diana Prince that was not all that secret, and she was also depicted as blonde (differing from the brunette image established in the comic books). This 1974 film follows Wonder Woman, assistant to government agent Steve Trevor (Kaz Garas) as she pursues a villain named Abner Smith (Ricardo Montalban) who has stolen a set of code books containing classified information about U.S. government field agents. Along the way, she has to outwit Smith's chief assistants: the handsome yet dangerous George (Andrew Prine) and a rogue Amazon, Angela (Anitra Ford), who Smith has taken on as a bodyguard; a brief duel between Wonder Woman and Angela is the film's only significant action sequence, which occurs during the final third of the story.

March 16, 1949
Henry Enrique "Erik" Estrada is born. 

Actor and reserve police officer, known for his co-starring lead role in the 1977–1983 United States police television series CHiPs.  

He later became known for his work in Spanish language telenovelas, and in more recent years, his appearances in reality television shows and infomercials and as a regular voice on the Adult Swim series Sealab 2021.
To quote the Bicentennial Minute, "And that's the way it was".

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Tony Figueroa
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