Monday, September 29, 2014

This Week in Television History: September 2014 PART V


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.

September 30, 1954
Barry Williams is born Barry William Blenkhorn. 
Best known for his role as Greg Brady on theABC television seriesThe Brady Bunch. Williams continued to be cast in guest roles on other TV series including Adam-12The InvadersThat GirlMission: ImpossibleThe Mod SquadHere Come the Brides and Bartleby, the Scrivener before being cast in 1969 as Greg Brady on The Brady Bunch.
Following the cancellation of The Brady Bunch in 1974, Williams continued to appear in guest roles on television, and became involved in musical theater, touring with productions such as GreaseThe Sound of Music, and West Side Story.
Williams has appeared in variousBrady Bunch TV movie reunions, including the 1988 Christmas movie, A Very Brady Christmas.
His 1992 autobiographyGrowing Up Brady: I Was a Teenage Greg, co-written with Chris Kreski, stayed on The New York Times bestseller list for three months. The book was adapted into a 2000 TV movie titled Growing Up Brady starring Adam Brody as Williams.

September 30, 1984
The pilot episode of Murder, She Wrote aired on CBS. 
The mystery series starring Angela Lansbury as mystery writer and amateur detective Jessica Fletcher. The series aired for twelve seasons from 1984 to 1996 on the CBS network. It was followed by four TV films and a spin-off series, The Law & Harry McGraw. It is one of the most successful and longest-running television shows ever for CBS, pulling in close to 23 million viewers in its prime, during its Sunday night slot. It is also hugely successful across the world.

Angela Lansbury has been nominated for a total of ten Golden Globes and twelve Emmies. She holds the record for the most Golden Globe nominations for Best Actress in a television drama series and the most Emmy nominations ever for outstanding lead actress in a drama series for Murder She wrote. It is now considered to be a TV cult classic around the world.

October 2, 1959
The first TheTwilight Zone episode Where Is Everybody? Aired.
Opening narration
“The place is here, the time is now, and the journey into the shadows that we're about to watch, could be our journey”.

This was the only Twilight Zone episode filmed at Universal Studios, the rest of the entire series was filmed at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The centerpiece of the episode is the Courthouse Square set, most well known for being used as the town square of "Hill Valley" in the Back to the Future series of films over 25 years later.


The haunting score composed by Bernard Herrmann (Psycho) for this episode would be reused for several episodes of the series, most notably "The After Hours" and "The Last Flight".


October 3, 1954
Father Knows Best began airing on CBS-TV. 
The May 27, 1954 episode of The Ford Television Theatre show was called "Keep It in the Family". This 26-minute episode stars Robert Young as Tim Warren, head of the Warren Family. With him was wife Grace (Ellen Drew), older daughter Peggy (Sally Fraser), younger daughter Patty (Tina Thompson) and son Jeff (Gordon Gerbert). Developed by Young and his partner Eugene Rodney, it was intended as a pilot for a Father Knows Best television series. In the episode, Peggy dreams of making it as an actress but a talent scout who has raised her hopes just wants people for his acting school.
Only Robert Young remained of the radio cast when the series moved to CBS Television:
·        James "Jim" Anderson, Sr.–Robert Young
·        Margaret Anderson–Jane Wyatt
·        Betty "Princess" Anderson–Elinor Donahue
·        James "Bud" Anderson, Jr.–Billy Gray
·        Kathy "Kitten" Anderson–Lauren Chapin

The series began on CBS on October 3, 1954. Originally sponsored by Lorillard's Kent cigarettes in its first season, Scott Paper Company became the primary sponsor when the series moved to NBC in the fall of 1955, remaining as sponsor even after it moved back to CBS in September 1958, with Lever Brothers as an alternate sponsor from 1957 through 1960. A total of 203 episodes were produced, running until September 17, 1960, and appearing on all three of the television networks of the time, including prime-time repeats from September 1960 through April 1963.


October 3, 1964
Underdog debuted on NBC. 

Underdog, Shoeshine Boy's heroic alter-ego, appeared whenever love interest Sweet Polly Purebred was being victimized by such villains as Simon Bar Sinister or Riff Raff. Underdog nearly always speaks in rhyme, as in, "There's no need to fear, Underdog is here!" His voice was supplied by Wally Cox.

October 3, 2004
The first season of Desperate Housewives began. 
Created by Marc Cherry and produced by ABC Studios and Cherry Productions. It aired Sundays at 9 P.M. Eastern/8 P.M. Central, on ABC from October 3, 2004, until May 13, 2012.Executive producer Cherry served as showrunner. Other executive producers since the fourth season included Bob DailyGeorge W. PerkinsJohn PardeeJoey MurphyDavid Grossman, and Larry Shaw.
The main setting of the show was Wisteria Lane, a street in the fictional American town of 'Fairview' in the fictional 'Eagle State'. The show followed the lives of a group of women as seen through the eyes of a dead neighbor who committed suicide in the very first episode. The storyline covers thirteen years of the women's lives over eight seasons, set between the years 2004–2008, and later 2013–2017 (the story arc included a 5 year passage of time). They worked through domestic struggles and family life, while facing the secrets, crimes and mysteries hidden behind the doors of their — at the surface — beautiful and seemingly perfect suburban neighborhood.

The show featured an ensemble cast, headed by Teri Hatcher as Susan MayerFelicity Huffman as Lynette ScavoMarcia Cross asBree Van de Kamp, and Eva Longoria as Gabrielle SolisBrenda Strong narrated the show as the deceased Mary Alice Young, appearing sporadically in flashbacks or dream sequences.

October 4, 1949
The television series Life of Riley debuts, starring Jackie Gleason as bullheaded family man Chester Riley. 

The show originated on the radio in the early 1940s and starred William Bendix. In 1953, Bendix took over the TV role from Gleason and stayed with the show until its cancellation in 1958.

October 4, 1954
December Bride debuted on CBS-TV. 
The series centered around the adventures of Lily Ruskin, a spry widow played by Spring Byington, who was not, in fact, a "December" (rather old) bride but very much desired to become one if the right man would come along. Aiding Lily in her search for this prospective suitor were her daughter Ruth Henshaw (Frances Rafferty) and son-in-law Matt Henshaw (Dean Miller), and her close friend Hilda Crocker (character-actress Verna Felton). A next-door neighbor, insurance agent Pete Porter (Harry Morgan), was frequently seen. Married miserably himself, according to his constant complaints about his unseen wife Gladys, he also envied Matt's positive relationship with Lily, as he despised his own mother-in-law. The pilot episode premiered on October 4, 1954 and involved Lily Ruskin moving in with her daughter and son-in-law. December Bride was unusual in that all five stars appeared in all 111 episodes of the sitcom. Most of the scenes filmed for the series took place in the Henshaws' living room.
First-run episodes of December Bride aired for 5 seasons (1954-1959), sponsored by General FoodsInstant Maxwell House Coffee. During the first four seasons, the program was not shown in the summer, supplanted by "summer replacement" series (such as Ethel and Albert) but in its final year, repeat episodes were run in its timeslot during the summer months. On March 26, 1959, as the program wound down, Rory Calhoun, star of CBS's western series, The Texan, appeared as himself in the episode "Rory Calhoun, The Texan".
December Bride was sufficiently popular that even after its production had ceased, CBS used repeat episodes to fill slots in its primetime programming. In July 1960, December Bride repeats were used to fill in for the second half of the Friday 9 pm Eastern timeslot vacated by Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse, running until the beginning of the fall 1960 schedule, and again as a temporary replacement on Thursday nights in April 1961. Additionally, repeats were shown on CBS as a daytime program from October 1959 until March 1961. The Pete Porter character became so popular that he and Gladys were spun off into their own series, Pete and Gladys, shortly after the last broadcast of first-run episodes of December Bride.

October 5, 1924
Bill Dana is born.

Comedian, actor and screenwriter. He often appeared on television shows such as The Ed Sullivan Show, frequently in the guise of a heavily accented Puerto Rican character named José Jiménez. Dana often portrayed the Jiménez character as an astronaut.

October 5, 1969
Monty Python's Flying Circus debuted on BBC television. 
The British sketch comedy series commissioned by David Attenborough, created by the comedy group Monty Python and broadcast by the BBC from 1969 to 1974. The shows were composed of surreality, risqué or innuendo-laden humour, sight gags and observational sketches without punchlines. It also featured animations by Terry Gilliam, often sequenced or merged with live action. The first episode was recorded on 7 September and broadcast on 5 October 1969 on BBC One, with 45 episodes airing over four series from 1969 to 1974, plus two episodes for German TV.
The show often targets the idiosyncrasies of British life, especially that of professionals, and is at times politically charged. The members of Monty Python were highly educated. Terry Jones and Michael Palin are Oxford University graduates; Eric IdleJohn Cleese, and Graham Chapman attended Cambridge University; and American-born member Terry Gilliam is an Occidental Collegegraduate. Their comedy is often pointedly intellectual, with numerous erudite references to philosophers and literary figures. The series followed and elaborated upon the style used by Spike Milligan in his ground breaking series Q5, rather than the traditional sketch show format. The team intended their humour to be impossible to categorise, and succeeded so completely that the adjective "Pythonesque" was invented to define it and, later, similar material.

The Pythons play the majority of the series characters themselves, including the majority of the female characters, but occasionally they cast an extra actor. Regular supporting cast members include Carol Cleveland (referred to by the team as the unofficial "Seventh Python"), Connie Booth (Cleese's first wife), series Producer Ian MacNaughtonIan DavidsonNeil Innes (in the fourth series), and the Fred Tomlinson Singers (for musical numbers).


October 5, 1989
Jim Bakker was convicted of using his television show to defraud his viewers. After deliberating for a day and a half, a jury in Charlotte, North Carolina, convicts Jim Bakker of using his television show to defraud his viewers. Bakker's trial started on August 28 and was interrupted briefly while he was sent to a psychiatric hospital for evaluation after suffering a breakdown.
The government has argued that Bakker solicited donations in exchange for free vacation lodging at his Heritage USA theme park, lodging which he knew he would never be able to provide.

Jim Bakker sold 153,000 of these partnerships between 1984 and 1987. In exchange for $1,000, people were promised three free nights lodging every year for life. Bakker claimed to have accommodations for 214,000 partners, but the government provided evidence that only 258 rooms were actually available.
 
To quote the Bicentennial Minute, "And that's the way it was".



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Tony Figueroa
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