In Fall TV Preview Madness, I present a network television schedule preview special from the distant past. We see the good, bad, and ugly for a network’s entire upcoming fall slate.
Today’s preview is for NBC’s 1975 Fall TV season, dubbed the Superseason. The network debuted nine new series, hoping to build on the successes of young hits like Little House on the Prairie, Chico and the Man, and Sanford and Son. Their boldest play came on Thursday, where the entire prime time lineup was filled with freshman shows. Here’s a quick promo from ’75.
Unfortunately, success proved elusive for these new programs, none of which lasted past the 1975-76 season. Thursday in particular was rough, as NBC was up against ratings powerhouses like The Waltons and The Streets of San Francisco. This marked the beginning of a very rough time for the Peacock, which didn’t really recover until the salad days of the 1980s.
This preview is hosted by Lloyd Bridges, star of the new police drama Joe Forrester (one of 1975’s casualties). Let’s check out the Superseason!
In case you don’t feel like watching the whole thing, here’s a recap of the quality entertainment you can catch on NBC in ’75 (* denotes new series):
8pm* — The Invisible Man (Starring David McCallum; ended after 13 episodes.)
9pm — NBC Monday Night at the Movies (Aired on various nights from 1963-1999.)
Mystery Science Theater 3000 fans should recognize many of the shots from The Invisible Man, as they were blatantly stolen by a later series called The Gemini Man. Two of that series’ episodes were later spliced together to create the rifftastic Ben Murphy TV movie Riding with Death.
8pm — Movin’ On (1974 – 1976)
9pm — Police Story (1973 – 1978)
10pm* — Joe Forrester (Ended after 23 episodes.)
8pm — Little House on the Prairie (1974 – 1983)
9pm* — Doctors’ Hospital (Starring George Peppard; ended after 13 episodes.)
10pm — Petrocelli (1974 – 1976)
Check out William Daniels in that Doctors’ Hospital clip, warming up for his iconic portrayal of Dr. Mark Craig on St. Elsewhere.
8pm* — The Montefuscos (Ended after 9 episodes.)
8:30pm* — Fay (Starring Lee Grant; ended after 10 episodes.)
9pm* — Ellery Queen (Starring Jim Hutton; ended after 22 episodes.)
10pm* — Medical Story (Ended after 11 episodes.)
Shortly before Norman Lear’s groundbreaking sitcoms explored ethnic stereotypes for real comedy and impact, there was The Montefuscos, which looks like a bad Italian joke played out for a half hour. Nine episodes was nine too many I suspect. Fay was probably decent, and Lee Grant did earn an Emmy nomination for her acting, so that’s got to be worth something. Oh, and that’s Joe Silver playing the ex-husband.
Medical Story was an anthology drama, and it looks like it could’ve been OK. It’s pretty cool to see a very young Beau Bridges bucking the medical establishment.
8pm — Sanford and Son (1972 – 1977)
8:30pm — Chico and the Man (1974 – 1978)
9pm — The Rockford Files (1974 – 1980)
10pm — Police Woman (1974 – 1978)
No new shows debuted on Fridays in 1975, which might explain why it was the network’s most successful night.
8pm — Emergency! (1972 – 1977)
9pm — NBC Saturday Night at the Movies (1961 – 1978)
NBC did air some new made-for-TV movies on Saturday, but otherwise they played it safe.
7pm — The Wonderful World of Disney (1961 – 1981)
8pm* — The Family Holvak (Starring Glenn Ford; ended after 10 episodes.)
9pm — The NBC Sunday Mystery Movie (1971 – 1977)
The Family Holvak seems like a pretty transparent attempt to attract fans of The Waltons. The NBC Sunday Mystery Movie rotated between four different titles in ’75 — Columbo, McCloud, McMillan & Wife, and newcomer McCoy (starring Tony Curtis). I guess there was something about having a Mc in front of your last name that made you a good lead. McCoy lasted one year and was replaced in the Mystery Movie lineup for 1976 by Quincy, M.E. Those movies proved popular enough to spin Quincy off into its own series.
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