THE MAGIC BOOMERANG
Outdoor fantasy/adventure series for children produced in Australia by Pacific Films about 13-year old Tom Thumbleton (David Morgan) who discovers a boomerang among some Aboriginal relics his great-great-grandfather left in the attic of their home; a sheep farm near the fictitious town of Gunnaganoo. Tom discovers that when he throws the boomerang time stands still until it returns to him. This opens up all sorts of possibilities and the adventures come thick and fast as the lad uses the boomerang to foil the plans of any sinister baddie-of whom there appear to be many in this part of Australia! The only other person who knows of the magic boomerang is Tom's friend Wombat (Rodney Pearlman) who is more inclined to want to use its amazing properties to have mischievous fun, but Tom, being a level headed and mature sort of lad, makes sure that it is only used when needed the most. The effect of the boomerang stopping time was very basic, sometimes using the freeze-frame method and at other times simply getting the other actors to stand rigidly still. 39 half-hour episodes were produced in black and white and the series was sold overseas to countries that included Britain and Canada. Oddly, it appeared on Australian TV after it appeared in those other countries. A year after production finished Pacific Films decided to bring the series back in a new location and with a new cast. The new custodian of the boomerang was 15-year old Robert Brockman (Nugget Morris) and the series was now made in colour. However, only six episodes were ever made.
45 episodes of 30 minute duration (6 in colour). Pacific Films, Australia. 1964-66.
THE MAIN CHANCE
John Stride starred as David Main, a social-climbing, success-hungry young lawyer whose career is definitely on the way up despite a tendency to take on underdog cases for free, in this quality legal drama, which topped the audience ratings in October 1970.
David Main was brash, calculating and yet brilliant which was just as well because on numerous occasions his impulsiveness led him into all manner of precarious situations. He was a man of the times, though and liked to keep afoot of all the latest technology in order to stay one step ahead of the opposition. And his no-nonsense attitude and great attention to detail made him much sought after by prospective clients. Kate Omara appeared in the first series as Main’s wife, Julia, but in later series she was replaced by his wealthy secretary Sarah Courtnay (actress Anna Palk) who later became Lady Radchester. The Main Chance, created by Edmund Ward, remained a firm audience favourite for 6 years.
45 episodes of 60 minute duration. Yorkshire Television 1969-1975.
MAN AT THE TOP
Man at the Top takes up the continuing story of Joe Lampton, the aggressively ambitious anti-hero of John Braine’s bestselling novel Room at the Top, its award-winning film adaptation of 1958, and 1965 sequel Life at the Top. Kenneth Haigh’s portrayal of Joe Lampton earned him a BAFTA nomination, while accomplished film and stage actress Zena Walker is Joe’s long-suffering wife, Susan. This intense, compelling drama series was created and co-written by John Braine, and George Markstein features among the producers. Thirteen years on from his marriage to the pregnant Susan - a condition of his continuing promotion by Susan’s father and his then boss, Mr. Brown - Joe Lampton has a new home in Surrey’s stockbroker belt and a career as a management consultant. As pushy and hard-headed as ever, he will go to any lengths to keep a grip on his position. Joe remains married to Susan and the couple now have two children, but his attentions rarely remain fixed and he does not fail to take advantage of all that his status and connections bring within his reach; this inevitably includes the attractive and available women he encounters. A single event, however, causes Joe to re-assess his life - with far-reaching consequences. A feature film based on the TV series was produced by Hammer / Dufton Films in 1973
23 episodes of 60 minute duration. Thames Television 1970 - 1972
MARJORIE AND MEN
Patricia Routledge in her first starring comedy role as Marjorie Belton who, despite a bitter and hurtful divorce, is still hoping to find the type of romance one would only come across in a Mills and Boon novel. In the midst of all this Marjorie also has to contend with her overbearing mother (played by Patricia Hayes) who seems to have taken it upon herself to find the perfect match for her daughter. Each episode features a different beau for Marjorie; Timothy West, John Quayle (pictured) and George Baker all try to romance her without success and even some of her male work colleagues at the bank where she is a clerk think they may have a chance. In the end we never found out if Marjorie was successful in landing the man of her dreams because only a single series was made by Anglia, who had only venture into the world of sitcom once before with Backs to the Land.
6 episodes of 30 minute duration. Anglia (ITV) 1985
MARTIN KANE, PRIVATE EYE
Television's first private eye was broadcast live from 1st September 1949 and was also heard on radio for several years. Both formats were sponsored by U.S. Tobacco and as a result Kane could often be found hanging around Happy McCann's tobacco shop where he could discuss with the owner (played by Walter Kinsella) the virtues of buying the sponsor's products. Played by actor William Gargan (pictured), Kane was a New York based private eye, easy-going, wisecracking, cool exterior, all of which masked a tough investigator who was nobody's fool. The stories invariably revolved round a murder investigation that, according to Gargan's own 1969 published biography, were nothing to write home about. 'Very soon in the game I realised our stories were nothing to rave about.' He wrote. 'I developed a tongue-in-cheek style, a spoof of the hard-boiled detective a way of silently saying, 'Don't blame me for the lousy stories, I didn't write them.' Gargan remained in the role for two years but left in 1951. 'It also had a producer I could not abide.... He used the show for a flesh parade. The result was we had pretty, empty-headed girls on the show. blowing lines all over the lot. The show began to slide downhill. In desperation, I began to mug a little more, to cover up the new holes, and the script writers began to write more blatantly. You get into a terrible rut this way. Everybody works harder to undo the damage, and the result is more screeching, more overacting, overwriting, which starts to drive the viewers away.' In spite of Gargan's comments by 1950 the show had reached 12th spot in the ratings, and in two subsequent seasons, reached the top ten. In 1951 Lloyd Nolan took the lead role but he departed after one season to be replaced by Lee Tracy who gave way in 1953 to Mark Stevens. Although cancelled in 1953 the series returned three years later in a British produced, syndicated run entitled The New Adventures of Martin Kane. Gargan's career came to an end in 1958 when he developed throat cancer, and doctors were forced to remove his larynx. Speaking through an artificial voice box, Gargan became an activist and spokesman for the American Cancer Society, often warning about the dangers of smoking.
30 minute episodes. NBC 1949 - 1954
THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES
With the popularity of the mini-series in America during the later years of the 1970s it was only a matter of time before television makers turned to the genre of science fiction as a source of drama. NBC-TV made two series of this type; the first was Brave New World adapted from Aldous Huxley's novel of the same name and the second was also adapted from a book: Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles (known in the UK as The Silver Locusts), first published in 1950. The story dealt with man's colonisation of the planet Mars and the title refers, not to the indigenous species, but to Mankind, who arrive on the planet in silver rockets that blight the beautiful Martian landscape. The book then deals with the deliberate destruction of the Martian way of life. The book was adapted into a teleplay by Richard Matheson who had written scripts for The Twilight Zone, Kolchak: The Night Stalker and Star Trek. The main character in the TV version, Colonel Wilder, played by Rock Hudson, was not so central to the plot in the original novel and although he led the first mission to Mars (as in the TV version) he was killed as he attempted to explore other regions of the solar system. The series was originally scheduled for broadcast over three consecutive nights during September 1979 but internal politics at NBC meant it was delayed until January 1980. Although received well by viewers and critics, the series did not bring about a flood of science fiction series and it wasn’t until V came along in the mid-1980s that the genre was successfully tried again.
3 episodes of 120 minute duration. 1980.
MICK AND MONTMORENCY / JOBSTOPPERS
Charlie Drake and Jack Edwardes had originally met whilst serving in the RAF but didn't consider teaming up until years later when they both failed the same Windmill Theatre audition.
Their disappointment however was soon turned to good fortune when Edwardes was appointed entertainment producer at a holiday camp and promptly booked himself and Drake as the double-act Mick and Montmorency, a clumsy duo set in the Laurel and Hardy mode, with Drake taking most of the pratfalls. During this run producer Michael Westmore spotted them and decided that their brand of comedy was ideal for the BBC children's programme Jigsaw. In 1955 the newly founded Associated Rediffusion company signed them up as the first children's comedy double-act for ITV and they debuted on Independent Television on 30th September for 22 15 minute fun-filled disastrous adventures where they appeared in a variety of jobs from removal men to scientists. For some reason only the first episode went out as Mick and Montmorency then from episode two the series was called Jobstoppers. But after 34 episodes the title reverted back. The final stand-alone series ran from 1956 - 57 and then became part of another Children's programme, Jolly Good Time. At the end of the second run (May 1958) Drake decided he'd had enough of children's TV and wanted to aim his material at adults and he and Edwardes went their separate ways.
91 episodes of 15, 10 and 20 minute duration. ITV 1955-58.
MICKEY SPILLANE'S MIKE HAMMER
Based on the violent novels of Mickey Spillane, television producers did nothing to tone down the brutality or overt sexism of the original pulp fiction capers in the first series, produced between 1957 and 1959, which starred Darren McGavin ('Kolchak: The Night Stalker') nor in the later version (1984 - 87) starring Stacy Keach. Hammer was a wisecracking anti-hero who lived tough in a tough world of murderers, kidnappers, drug dealers and extortionists. He had few friends. The best of these was a .45 caliber pistol that he nicknamed Betsy. Assistance came from his source on the street, Ozzie the Answer (Danny Goldman) and some officers from the NYPD, but by and large Hammer relied on his own streetwise experience and quick wits. One strand that ran through the later series was the appearance in every episode of a mystery woman, known as 'The Face' because she was only ever seen from the neck up, who always mysteriously disappeared before Hammer could meet her. A planned 1985 episode (titled "The Face") would have resolved the mystery had Stacey Keach not been arrested in England for cocaine possession and sentenced to six months imprisonment at Reading Jail. Eventually, another series was made, retitled The New Mike Hammer and in the final episode Hammer met 'The Face', who rather lamely turned out to be an author who was following him so she could fictionalise his exploits in a series of detective novels!
Syndicated only 1957 - 1959. CBS 1984 - 87.
THE MIND OF MR J. G. REEDER
This classic Thames drama series, based on the short stories by Edgar Wallace (originally published in 1925), features one of the unlikeliest fictional sleuths: Mr. J.G. Reeder, a mild-mannered, bespectacled civil servant at the Department of Public Prosecutions. But Mr. Reeder (Hugh Burden) has an unusual ‘gift’ - he can think in exactly the way a criminal does (suggesting perhaps that he has, at some point, been on the wrong side of the law himself). In 1920s London, his talent for cracking even the most impenetrable of crimes is known throughout the underworld, and much valued by his department head, Sir Jason Toovey (Willoughby Goddard); bank heists, jewel thefts and murder are among the many and varied cases that are passed on to Mr. Reeder to solve in his own singular way...
16 episodes of 60 minute duration. ITV. 1969 - 71
A MIND TO KILL
Based on a 1991 pilot created by Lyn Ebenezer and Sion Eirian, A Mind to Kill debuted on Wales' S4C network in 1994, and ran irregularly until 2002. Philip Madoc stars as Detective Chief Inspector Noel Bain, working for the Mid-Wales Police Department as their senior investigator for homocides set against a backdrop of a troubled and splintered community now stripped of its once-mighty industries. As an investigator Bain is unrivalled, and the complex, frequently disturbing cases that come his way are met with an infallible instinct which even the sharpest criminal minds cannot match. But in his private life things are not so straight forward: A widower for seven years (his wife was killed by a drunk driver), Bain lives with his headstrong, emotionally damaged 17-year-old daughter, Hannah (Ffion Wilkins) who has set her own sights on a career in a rapidly changing police force. It's a difficult relationship between father and daughter because Hannah wants things back the way they were when her mother was alive, and resents what she feels is dad's controlling influence on her life, while he struggles to come to terms with the dangers of police work that he knows she is going to be exposed to. His colleagues lead no less complicated lives and are also the cause of conflict, with divorced Detective Sergeant Alison Griffiths (Gillian Elisa) experiencing difficulties in her private life (including almost getting raped), while Detective Sergeant Carwyn Phillips (Geraint Lewis) tends to be very narrow-minded. Noel's superior, Superintendent Jack Bevan (Meic Povey), has to walk the fine line of public service and the politics required of modern day policing at Senior Officer level. Pathologist Professor Margaret Edwards (Sharon Morgan), presents a potentially rewarding emotional relationship with Noel but he fears taking their relationship to the next level, mindful of the problems such a relationship has caused him in the past. The series was set in south Wales but filmed largely in Aberyswyth and Ceredigion in both Welsh and English languages.
21 episodes 1994 - 2002
Adapted from Oxford law graduate A.P. Herbert's collection of legal absurdities which first saw print in 'Punch' magazine in 1924 and were later released over six books, the first of which was 'Misleading Cases,' printed in 1927. There were three series of this classy comedy in which Roy Dotrice played the part of the doddering but astute eternal litigant Albert Haddock, who would enter the courtroom to debate a variety of moral issues with pleas that referred back to forgotten or outdated laws. Alan Melville adapted the stories for the first two series, which also starred Alistair Sim in a rare TV role, as the often-exasperated Stipendiary Magistrate Mr Justice Swallow, who would preside over each case with a mixture of frustration and silent admiration. Opposing QC was Sir Joshua Hoot played by Thorley Walters and the other regular member of the cast was Avice Landon as Albert's often bemused, but always patient wife. There were also a whole host of guest stars throughout the shows run and they included such TV luminaries as Warren Mitchell, John Le Mesurier, Patricia Hayes, Irene Handl, Arthur Mullard and Fred Emney. John Cleese appeared in one episode just so he could work with Alistair Sim. The third series appeared three years after the second and was written by Christopher Bond and Michael Gilbert.
19 episodes of 30 minute duration. 1967-1968. 1971.
"Your mission, Jim, should you accept it..." So began each adventure for the Impossible Missions Force, an elite group of secret agents under the leadership of Jim Phelps (Peter Graves, brother of ’Gunsmoke's’ James Arness). Their weekly tasks usually involved the rescue of a foreign diplomat held prisoner by a fictitious communist country, or the recovery of secret documents. Each member of the IMF had their own particular specialist talent, Rollin Hand (Martin Landau) was a master of disguise, Cinnamon Carter (Barbara Bain, real-life wife of Landau), was the female seductress, muscle was supplied by Willy Armitage (Peter Lupus), and Barney Collier (Greg Morris) was the electronics wizard. Gadgetry of the James Bond type featured heavily in the series, which won Emmys for Outstanding Dramatic Series in 1967 and 1968, and Bain picked up Best Actress Emmy's in 1967, 1968 and 1969. Leonard Nimmoy joined the cast as Paris straight from his stint as ’Star Trek's’ Spock and Lalo Shifrin's ‘Mission Impossible’ title theme was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic. The series sold to no less than 70 countries worldwide and in the first in a series of 1996 an all action Hollywood blockbuster’s was released starring Tom Cruise. The movie series kept Shifrin’s distinctive theme tune.
171 missions of 50 minute duration. CBS 1966-73.
THE MOLLY WOPSIES
Wartime drama series set in an Oxford village about the light-hearted adventures of four children who are living under the shadow of WWII -even though it doesn’t stop them from getting up to all sorts of mischief. ‘The Molly Wopsy’ first appeared on television in 1974 it being the fifth in a series of single comedic dramas that went out under the banner ‘Funny Ha Ha’. Viewers were asked to name their favourite episode and this was the one they chose, hence, 18 months later Thames commissioned a full series of adventures. The story was written by car production-line worker Ron Smith who had grown up in the 1940s in a small village where local legend spoke of a ghost, 'The Molly Wopsy,' which Ron and his friends then adopted for the name of their gang. Drawing on personal experience Ron used that storyline for the first episode before moving on to write about the gang and all they got up to. The best story was one concerning the discovery in of a German pilot who had bailed out of his plane over the village. The series was notable for the first starring role (but not the first TV appearance) of nine-year old Phil Daniels who would go on to bigger and better things, especially the cult British movies 'Scum' and 'Quadrophenia'. The theme tune to the series was an old wartime favourite, ‘Run Rabbit Run’, and was sung by Arthur Askey.
6 episodes of 30 minute duration. Thames Television 1976.
In an attempt to cash in on the popularity of The Beatles movies ’A Hard Day's Night’ and ’Help!’ US producers Bert Schneider and Bob Rafelson interviewed no less than 400 applicants for a fast moving madcap thirty minute series based on the day to day life of a pop group. The successful applicants were Mickey Dolenz (formerly Mickey Braddock of ’Circus Boy’ fame), Michael Nesmith (whose mother invented the correcting fluid used on typing errors), Peter Tork, and British actor Davy Jones (formerly Ena Sharples grandson in ’Coronation Street’). The series won the 1966 Emmy for Outstanding Comedy and the group became world wide chart toppers with songs such as ’Last Train To Clarkville,’ ‘Daydream Believer’ and ’I'm a Believer’ (the latter composed by the still unknown Neil Diamond). The group starred in their own movie in 1968 entitled 'Head' which was co-written by Rafelson and Jack Nicholson (who would go on to co-write the blockbuster ’Five Easy Pieces’) but it died at the box office. The groups last single to enter the British popular music charts was in 1969, but by that time they had already split up and gone their separate ways. Mickey Dolenz turned TV producer and in 1980 had a minor hit in Britain with a series called ’Metal Mickey’, a children’s comedy about a robot that bore a startling resemblance to Star Wars' R2D2. In 1997 the Monkees, who still had a massive following on both sides of the Atlantic re-formed for a time to do a series of concerts.
58 episodes of 25 minute duration. Columbia TV. NBC 1966-67.
MOODY AND PEGG
1970s series that successfully mixed comedy and drama, starring Derek Waring as antique dealer Roland Moody and Judy Cornwell as civil servant Daphne Pegg. Both move into a new property with the intention of leaving their past behind them. He is escaping from matrimonial disharmony that ended in divorce whilst she has made for London after realising that her boss has no intention of marrying her. But they soon discover that they have fallen foul of a disreputable estate agent who has sold them both the same lease. Unable to work out who is the rightful owner they reluctantly agree to share, but it is not a happy compromise. At the end of the first series Moody loses his right to live in the flat in a 'winner-takes-all' poker game. However, he returns at the start of series two.
12 episodes of 60 minute duration. Thames TV. 1974-75.
Born on 8th January 1924 in Tottenham, North London (as Ronald Moodnick), Ron Moody is perhaps best known to generations of filmgoers as the villainous yet lovable rogue Fagin in Lionel Bart's Academy Award winning Oliver! On stage from 1952, he specialised in revue and first played Fagin in the original stage version in 1960. The following year the BBC offered Moody his own musical sitcom series in which he appeared with a small company of players; actors, singers and dancers. The series ran for six weeks and each was a self contained programme that featured a different setting - those settings being Moody In...Storeland, Tin Pan Alley (pictured), Clock Factory Land, Theatreland, Musketeerland and Teleland. It was the only British sitcom that Moody appeared in and he only appeared in one other, the 1980 US sitcom Nobody's Perfect (retitled Hart of the Yard in the UK). The US title was more apt, though. The series was simply awful. Unfortunate indeed as a performer of Ron Moody's talent deserved far better.
6 episodes of 30 minute duration. BBC. 1961.
MR DIGBY, DARLING
Mr Digby, Darling reunited Peter Jones and Sheila Hancock, two of the most popular characters from the hit sitcom The Rag Trade as well as bringing together again Jones with writers Ken Hoare and Mike Sharland, who had scripted Beggar My Neighbour. Hancock (wife of actor John Thaw) plays Thelma Teesdale, Personal Assistant to Roland Digby, the PR manager for pesticide manufacturers Rid-O-Rat. She is totally devoted to him. From the time he arrives in the office in the morning until the time he leaves in the evening she caters for his every need; providing a cooked breakfast for him (in a stove hidden in his office filing cabinet), darning his socks and providing him with slippers so he can work in comfort. Thelma pulls out all the stops in the vain, and ultimately doomed hope, that he will respond to her advances but alas, he remains totally oblivious. For Digby, the office becomes home-from-home and is a welcome escape from a domineering wife (the unseen Eleanor) and his three children whose names he can never remember (they are in fact Dominic, Robin and Gwendolyn). But it is only due to Thelma's heroic efforts that the incompetant Digby manages to survive in the cut-throat business world. Impressionist Janet Brown and Michael Bates (It Ain't Half Hot Mum, Last Of The Summer Wine) appeared in later episodes and the series ran for 3 seasons, switching to colour from episode 4 of series 2.
19 episodes of 30 minute duration. Yorkshire TV 1969-1971.
One of British TV's first clowns, appearing on TV since 1946, Mr Pastry was an accident prone but surprisingly nimble old man whose trademark appearance of bowler hat, white moustache and long coat tails was still captivating and amusing young audiences in the 1960's with his own series, as well as appearances on Crackerjack and Sunday Night at the London Palladium. Actor Richard Hearne was awarded the OBE and was also considered, at one time, as a replacement for William Hartnell in Doctor Who.
One of American television's earliest and best sitcoms, it was a showcase for its star Wally Cox and a stellar supporting cast. Cox, a rising comic of the day, played Robinson Peepers, a science teacher at fictional Jefferson High School. His shy, quiet manner and tendency to get into unusual situations provided the show's gentle humour. Marion Lorne (later to turn up in Bewitched as Aunt Clara) played English teacher Mrs. Gurney; Tony Randall (The Odd Couple) was brash history teacher Harvey Weskit and Patricia Benoit was Nancy Remington, the school's nurse, who eventually became Peepers' romantic interest—and his wife (their 1954 wedding was one of the most-watched television events that year). The Ford Motor Company sponsored the first eight episodes of Mr. Peepers during the summer of 1952; despite good ratings, NBC did not bring it back when the fall season began. But faced with the total critical and ratings failure of a new filmed comedy called Doc Corkle (which lasted just three episodes), NBC quickly rushed Mr. Peepers back into production for a late October 1952 start. The show ran through June 1955. The series aired live from New York City, but only 102 episodes have survived on kinescope; many of those episodes have been released on DVD in the States. Wally Cox became typecast as a milquetoast after Mr. Peepers ended (he was actually an athletic, well-built man who counted former roommate Marlon Brando as one of his closest friends). Cox appeared as a guest on various variety shows and sitcoms; lent his voice to the cartoon character Underdog; and was a regular on the game show The Hollywood Squares. Wally Cox died February 15th, 1973; Brando reportedly kept Cox's ashes with him. When Brando died in 2004, his family scattered both Brando and Cox's ashes over California's Death Valley.
127 episodes. NBC 1952-55
MULTI-COLOURED SWAP SHOP
Innovative Saturday morning children’s programme where young viewers, for the first time, took an integral part in the events, being encouraged to phone in as well as turn up at different locations around the country, only revealed in the first few minutes of the show going out live. Sometimes as many as 2,000 children and their parents would turn up. Multi-Coloured Swap Shop featured cartoons, pop artistes, sports stars and celebrity guests viewers could phone-in and talk to while the ‘swapping’ theme involved kids phoning up to swap old toys, books, clothes-just about anything other than pets (or kid sisters) for items that they’d like in return. The most interesting of these were highlighted in a Top Ten Swaps feature while the invited guests were asked to bring an item as a competition prize. The most sought after of these was undoubtedly drawings created in front of the camera by the artist Tony Hart who would pop in from time to time. The series was a vehicle for former Pirate Radio / Radio One DJ Noel Edmonds and was intended to run for just six weeks. In the end it ran for six years. Noel was ably assisted by roving reporters/presenters Maggie Philbin and Keith Chegwin (who married in 1982) and John Craven presented News Swap which gave viewers a chance to speak about current events. Feature items and prizes were delivered to Noel’s desk from on high by ‘crane’ operated by the unseen Eric and pride of place on Noel’s desk was taken by a dinosaur mascot called Posh Paws (an anagram of Swap Shop). For the last two years the series was known simply as Swap Shop. It was replaced by Saturday Superstore in 1982. A special show commemorating Swap Shop’s 30th anniversary was made in 2006 reuniting the original team – and Posh Paws.
146 shows. BBC. 1976-1982.
Inspired by the sensational O.J. Simpson murder trial of the mid-1990's, this Steven Bochco legal drama followed the twists and turns of a fictional high profile homicide case for an entire season. Despite its high quality, Murder One was thwarted by bad scheduling and only lasted two years. The series began with the gruesome murder of 15-year-old Jessica Costello, and the arrest of her lover, film star Neil Avedon (Jason Gedrick). Defending Neil was the Hoffman and Associates legal firm, led by attorney Theodore (Ted) Hoffman (Daniel Benzali) and his team of associates, including Arnold Spivak (J.C. MacKenzie) and Justine Appleton (Mary McCormack). Challenging Ted’s case was Assistant District Attorney Miriam Grasso (played by Bochco’s now ex-wife Barbara Bosson). Philanthropist Richard Cross, who had his fingers in the Costello murder case, was portrayed by Stanley Tucci in a scene-stealing role that raised his profile in both film and television. But ABC made the fatal mistake in slotting Murder One against NBC’s formidable medical drama ER (which was entering its second season). The results were no surprise: ER easily doubled Murder One’s audience. By mid-season, ABC moved the show to Monday nights, but new viewers didn’t tune in, largely because of “Murder’s” serialized format. Even though viewers were given a recap of previous events at the start of every episode, ratings remained marginal. Still, the network renewed the series for the second (and final) season, Bochco changed the format to focus on several separate cases instead of one case over an entire season. Also gone were several regulars, including Benzali. His place at the head of the legal firm was Jimmy Wyler (played by a pre-Without A Trace Anthony LaPaglia); the reason given on the show was that Hoffman retired to save his shaky marriage. Wyler had his own problems, including finding money to save the legal firm from closure. But despite the changes, ratings fell even further, and ABC pulled the plug. (The final episodes were aired over three consecutive nights after the conclusion of the May 1997 ratings sweeps.) Murder One had all of Bochco’s trademark plot devices, plus stellar acting and writing. Sadly, it wasn’t enough for the show to make its own case with the viewing public.
41 episodes of 60 minute duration. ABC. 1995-97
MY FAVOURITE HUSBAND
My Favourite Husband started life as a 1948 radio series which starred Lucille Ball and was the basis for her famous Lucy character in the TV sitcom I Love Lucy. My Favourite Husband, with Ball co-starring alongside Richard Denning, would have transferred to television and the history of the US sitcom might have been significantly different if it hadn't been for Ball's refusal to do a domestic sitcom without her real-life husband Desi Arnaz. CBS agreed and I Love Lucy was born with several of the 'Husband' radio scripts being reworked into the 'Lucy' series. My Favourite Husband finally made it to television in 1953, starring Joan Caulfield and Barry Nelson as Liz and George Cooper. He was a successful bank executive and she a scatterbrained houswife. They lived comfortably in a suburban home next door to the Cobbs, social high-climbers who were always trying to get the Coopers to improve their image. The series enjoyed modest success for two full seasons but for the third, broadcast 18 months later, CBS decided to make several changes. Vanessa Brown replaced Joan Caulfield as Liz and the next door neighbours became the Shepard's even though Alix Talton, who had played Myra Cobb, was now playing Myra Shepard. If viewers were confused then they needn't have worried too much. Three months after all these changes were made the series folded.
1953 - 1957.
MY FAVOURITE MARTIAN
En route to his office, LA journalist Tim O'Hara witnesses the crash landing of a space ship. On further investigation he discovers that the UFO's pilot has survived the crash and is in fact an anthropologist from the planet Mars. O'Hara takes the stranded Martian home in order that he may carry out repairs
to his spaceship, and this gives rise to a number of comic situations as the journalist tries to hide the truth from friends and nosy neighbours, during the alien's elongated stay. O'Hara was played by Bill Bixby who would go on to star in a number of TV roles, most notably The Magician and David Banner, the mild mannered but troubled alter-ego of The Incredible Hulk. Ray Walston, a star of the movie ’South Pacific’ played the Martian (referred to as O'Hara's Uncle Martin), the human looking alien with the ability of levitating objects, turning invisible and reading minds. At the time the series began there was much enthusiasm and interest in America's Apollo space program that would eventually put man on the moon, and this probably contributed to the shows success as it shot to the top ten of the Nielsens ratings. A spin-off animated series of 16 episodes was made between 1973-5 and in 1999 a movie version starred Christopher Lloyd was released to lukewarm reception (and that was being generous). Walston made a cameo appearance in the movie.
107 episodes of 30 minute duration. CBS 1963-66.
Robert Cummings played the part of Robert S. Beanblossom, a well-meaning but not very successful real estate salesman for the Thackery Realty Company. Actor Cummings, who had served during the war as a flying instructor, had previously appeared in the Hollywood movie 'Dial M for Murder.' In this filmed series he managed to avoid the wrath of his boss, Willis Thackery (John Litel), for all his shortcomings, by virtue of his pleasing nature and the help he received from office secretary (and his girlfriend) Julie Marshall (Julie Bishop), who went out of her way to straighten out his mistakes in the belief that he would always emerge triumphant. The series was broadcast by the NBC Network between November 1952 and August 1953, and was also sold to the UK where it was aired on the new Independent channel, ATV, on its second day of transmission, making it only the third US sitcom to be seen on British TV sets following Amos n' Andy and I Love Lucy.
33 episodes of 30 minute duration. Black and White. 1952-1953.
MY LITTLE MARGIE
Following on from the success of I Love Lucy, ATV television in the UK purchased another US sitcom in the form of My Little Margie, which centred around 21 year-old Margie Albright and her widower father, Vernon. Gale Storm, who played the lead, began her stage career by winning the Texas branch of a competition to play in 'Gateway to Hollywood.' She met the winner of the same contest from Indiana and a year later they were married. Gale then decided to concentrate on raising a family before returning to the silver screen, where she appeared alongside well-known names of the day such as Donald O'Connor and Audie Murphy. Her co-star in the TV series was former silent movie star Charles Farrel who had appeared opposite Janet Gaynor in 'Seventh Heaven.' In an unusual move, My Little Margie began a radio series in December 1952, a little more than two months after the first TV series had finished, and then continued on both mediums throughout the rest of its run. Not, as one might imagine in radio versions of the TV episodes, but in completely new stories. Co-stars Storm and Farrell played the leads in both. The first episode of the TV series was transmitted on CBS in 1952 and the last one was seen on NBC in 1955.
1952 - 1955
MY LIVING DOLL
Producer Jack Chertok, who hit paydirt with My Favorite Martian tried a slightly different approach in this comedy about a sexy female robot and the psychologist assigned to care for her. Bob Cummings (in his last major series role) played Doctor Bob McDonald, who looked after “Rhoda Miller” (Julie Newmar), also known as AF709. She was named after her creator, Carl Miller (Henry Beckman). When Miller was reassigned to Pakistan, he asked Bob to complete “Rhoda’s” education–teaching her to be the “perfect woman.” Of course, Bob had the job of also keeping “Rhoda’s” robotic identity a secret. The situation wasn’t helped much by neighbor Peter Robinson (Jack Mullaney), who was smitten with “Rhoda.” or by Bob’s sister, Irene Adams (Doris Dowling) who lived with him as his housekeeper to make sure no hanky-panky was going on between Bob and “Rhoda.” My Living Doll was definitely sexist by today’s standards, as “Rhoda” was taught to keep house and follow a man’s orders. Critics liked Newmar’s performance (she would go on to a number of roles, including that of Catwoman on the 1960's series version of Batman) Cummings was also praised; no surprise for the veteran of such sitcoms as My Hero and Love That Bob. But it was scheduled against NBC’s top-rated western Bonanza. Predictably, My Living Doll landed in the bottom half of the ratings charts. CBS did move the series to Wednesday nights in an effort to win a larger audience, but Bob Cummings was written out of the show after 21 episodes. (Cummings wanted out of his contract due in part to the show’s ratings; there were also reports he and Newmar didn’t get along on the set.) The remaining five episodes focused on Peter (who learned “Rhoda” was a robot) and was assigned to care for her after Bob was sent to Pakistan (just like “Rhoda’s” creator Carl Miller). Adams was written out of the series and replaced by Nora Marlow, who played Peter’s housekeeper Mrs. Moffat. All the changes didn’t help, and My Living Doll was not renewed for a second season. The series did leave one legacy to pop culture: The “Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang” says the sci-fi phrase “does not compute” originated on My Living Doll. Which was apt, considering the series didn’t.
26 episodes of 30 minute duration. CBS. 1964-65.
MY SON REUBEN
There's no love, they say, like a mother's love; and no strings like those on a mother's apron. When it comes to mums, Reuben Greenberg (Bernard Spear) is unlikely ever to master his own affairs. Any affair he might care to master romantically is guaranteed a veto - Momma (Lila Kaye) will see to that. Reuben runs a successful laundry business...but if he were ever to press his suit elsewhere - other than to a nice Jewish girl of his mother's choice - mother would move heaven and earth to repel his advances. Momma's Jewish neighbour Vera Caplan (Stella Tanner) has a daughter, Ruth (Caroline Bernstein), who has all the qualifications for an ideal match. Unfortunately for her - or him, Rueben has fallen for Betty Smith (Jo Rowbottom). "If you ever get any ideas about marriage" Momma tells Reuben "I'll give you a wedding present you won't forget - an inviation to your mother's funeral!" Writer Vince Powell who had co-written Never Mind The Quality, Feel The Width, presented another cross-culture ethnic comedy - the star of this series (Spear) had also appeared in that one, too.
6 episodes of 30 minute duration. ITV 1975
MY THREE SONS
Long running (1960-72) US series which enjoyed huge popularity as a family comedy with a difference, that difference being that it starred a generally all-male cast headed by Fred McMurray as widower Steve Douglas bringing up a family of three sons, 18 year-old Mike (Tim Considine), 14 year-old Robbie (Don Grady), and 7 year-old Chip (Stanley Livingston), with the aid of their grandfather, Michael Francis "Bub" O'Casey (William Frawley), and Tramp, the family dog. Steve worked as a consulting aviation engineer but seemed to spend most of his time bringing up the kids and fending off the attentions of attractive women. In 1965 "Bub" left the series to take a trip to Ireland (actor William Frawley had in fact become too ill to continue working) and was replaced by his brother Charley (William Demarest). For the 1965-66 season the show moved from ABC to CBS and by this time Tim Constadine felt as though he'd outgrown his role and was "married off" in the first episode, before moving east to take up a job teaching psychology. In 1967 the family were uprooted from their Midwest home at 837 Mill Street and moved to California where it was Robbie's turn to become betrothed, and the following year, his wife Katie (Tina Cole), gave birth to triplets thereby providing another three sons. In 1970 Steve met and fell in love with widowed schoolteacher Barbara Harper (Beverly Garland), who he eventually married, whilst youngest son Chip fell in love with and married a co-ed, Polly Thompson (Ronne Troup). Thus we'd followed the growing up of a family, and had come full circle.
369 episodes of 30-minute duration. ABC. CBS. 1960-72.
MY WIFE NEXT DOOR
When George Bassett (John Alderton) divorced his wife, Suzy (Hannah Gordon), he decided to make a new life for himself outside of London. So George moved to an idyllic cottage in the countryside at number 1 Copse Cottages, near Stoke Poges. Suzy also decided to move to the countryside. Unfortunately she had purchased the property at number 2 Copse Cottages!
Thus was the premise for Brian Clemens' and Richard Waring's award winning sitcom about a divorced couple who despised the fact that they were living next to each other, in spite of the overriding fact (that soon became clear to the audience)...that they were still in love with each other. For thirteen episodes George tried to win Suzy back, but in the end the situation remained unresolved, for in spite of the fact that the series received the Society of Film and Television Award for the year's best sitcom, writer Waring felt as though he'd explored the couples relationship as far as he could and the series never returned for a second outing. Two unsuccessful attempts were made to adapt the series for US television. The first starred James Farentino andJulie Somers in 1975 and the second starred Granville Van Dusen and Lee Purcell. The latter was written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais.
13 episodes of 30-minute duration. BBC. 1972.
Six-part, early evening drama series from Southern Television about a boy and his dog, a dead man walking and buried treasure. Jeremy Brent (Mark Colleano) is spending his summer holiday at a remote fifteenth century Dorset hotel when he witnesses a guest shoot the hotel’s owner. He tells all and sundry what he has seen only for the hotel owner to turn up later perfectly well and unharmed. With his credibility shot down, Jeremy has no one to turn to when he later stumbles across a story of lost treasure from a sunken Spanish galleon that may be hidden in a secret passage somewhere beneath the hotel. His only allies appear to be his faithful canine companion, Solo, and an odd-job man by the name of Zebediah Gast (Philip Newman). But is Gast all he claims to be? Or should Jeremy put his trust in pretty hotel receptionist Jane (Paddy Glynn) or one of the other hotel guests? All in all quite a dilemma for the youngster.
6 episodes of 30 minute duration. Southern Television 1967.
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