Monday, March 16, 2015

This Week in Television History: March 2015 PART III

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 16, 2005
Robert Blake acquitted of wife’s murder. 
After a three-month-long criminal trial in Los Angeles Superior Court, a jury acquits Robert Blake, star of the 1970s television detective show Baretta, of the murder of his 44-year-old wife, Bonny Lee Bakley.

March 21, 1980

J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman), the character millions loved to hate on TV’s popular nighttime drama Dallas, was shot. 

The shooting made the season finale, titled A House Divided, one of television’s most famous cliffhangers and left America wondering “Who shot J.R.?” Dallas fans waited for the next eight months to have that question answered because the season premiere of Dallas was delayed due to a Screen Actors Guild strike. That summer, the question “Who Shot J.R.?” entered the national lexicon. Fan’s wore T-shirts printed with "Who Shot J.R.?" and "I Shot J.R.". A session of the Turkish parliament was suspended to allow legislators a chance to get home in time to view the Dallas episode. Betting parlors worldwide took bets as to which one of the 10 or so principal characters had actually pulled the trigger. J.R. had many enemies and audiences were hard-pressed to guess who was responsible for the shooting.

The person who pulled the trigger was revealed to be J.R.’s sister in law/mistress Kristin Shepard (Mary Crosby) in the "Who Done It?" episode which aired on November 21, 1980. It was, at the time, the highest rated television episode in US history. It had a Nielsen rating of 53.3 and a 76% share, and it was estimated that 83,000,000 people watched the episode. The previous record for a TV episode, not counting the final installment of the miniseries Roots, had been the 1967 finale for The Fugitive. "Who Shot J.R.?" now sits second on the list, being beaten in 1983 by the final episode of M*A*S*H but still remains the highest rated non-finale episode of a TV series.

March 21, 1995
The first episode of NewsRadio aired on NBC.
Focusing on the work lives of the staff of an AM news station. The series was created by executive producer Paul Simms, and was filmed in front of a studio audience at CBS Studio Center and Sunset Gower Studios. The show's theme tune was composed by Mike Post, who also scored the pilot (Ian Dye and Danny Lux did subsequent episodes).
The show placed #72 on Entertainment Weekly '​s "New TV Classics" list. The series is set at WNYX, a fictional AM news radio station in New York City, populated by an eccentric station owner and staff. The show begins with the arrival of a new news director, level-headed Dave Nelson (Dave Foley). While Dave turns out to be less naive than his youthful appearance suggests, he never fully gains control of his co-workers.
The fast-paced scripts and ensemble cast combined physical humor and sight gags with smart dialogue and absurd storylines. Plots often involved satirical takes on historical events, news stories, and pop culturereferences. The third- and fourth-season finales took the absurdity to the extreme, setting the characters in outer space and aboard the Titanic.
There are a total of 97 episodes. Reruns continued in syndication for several years before disappearing in most markets, but the show has aired on A&E NetworkNick at Nite and TBS network in the United States, andTVtropolis and the Comedy Network in Canada. In the United States, the show occasionally airs as a filler onWGN America and runs regularly on Reelz Channel. The program became available in syndication to local stations again starting in July 2007 through The Program Exchange. NBC briefly canceled NewsRadio in May 1998, after its fourth season, but the decision was reversed two weeks later, with an order of 22 episodes placed for afifth season. Ten days after its renewal, Phil Hartman was killed by his wife, and his absence cast a pall over the fifth season. NBC left the series "on the bubble" until the day the final episode of the fifth season aired, months after production had wrapped. The fifth season ending storyline where Jimmy James buys a radio station in a small New Hampshire town was intended to provide a new setting for a potential sixth season, but NBC later decided to officially cancel the series after poor ratings and reviews.

To quote the Bicentennial Minute, "And that's the way it was".


Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa
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