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August 3, 2019 10:25 pm  #1


Instant Replay Bonus: The First Look At Some Legendary TV Shows

This week’s Instant Replay looked at Saturday morning TV locally as seen through the pages of the Lake Ontario edition of TV Guide. That magazine was always welcome in my house as a kid, but there was no one more anticipated than the Fall Preview issue. In those pre-Internet days, it was the definitive list of what was new on air.
 
Some shows would become legendary. Here’s a look at how these then unknown newcomers were first described in those pages – including the original Star Trek back in 1966 and a snide reference to a “spooky” Spocky. Guess they just couldn’t resist. Little did they know what this franchise would become and that it’s still around today.
 
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All we knew about Mary Tyler Moore back in 1970 was that she was Laura Petrie on the old Dick van Dyke Show. No one expected her eponymous TV sitcom would come to be considered one of the all time classics.
 
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If there hadn’t been a Mary Tyler Moore Show, there wouldn’t have been an MTM – and all the shows that followed including this one from 1972 – not to mention a classic ending that came on another Newhart show decades later.
 
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MTM was also responsible for one of the best comedies that didn’t last. Taxi was written by the same people who dealt with Mary and the WJM crew, but it was on a network – ABC – where sophisticated comedy and smart writing was in short supply. And unlike most of their other shows, there wasn’t a lot of jiggling or sex jokes.
 
Judd Hirsch once said he thought the show should have lasted at least 10 years, instead of the three it got between ABC and NBC. You’ll notice in the preview description it refers to Tony Danza’s character as “Phil.” That’s because the original plan had been to make the punch drunk boxer Irish. But Danza’s Italian background changed that and the name was altered to “Tony.”
 
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M*A*S*H was a hit movie but what few remember is that it almost got cancelled in its first season as a TV show. The ratings were terrible but CBS believed in it and the critics were raving. So it stayed, eventually moving to a new time slot, becoming a huge hit and even receiving the highest rating ever at the time for its finale a decade later. Notice the actor in the pilot playing Father Mulcahy is listed as George Morgan. He would never make the regular series, replaced by William Christopher.
 
Here’s how it was first described before any of us had ever seen it.
 
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When Hawaii Five-O debuted in 1969, it seemed like another run of the mill crime show set in a modern paradise. No one knew it would span the end of the 60s, last through the entire 70s and finally see its end as the 80s dawned. And it came back to life in a new version in 2010. Even Dan-o wouldn’t have booked them that far in advance. 
 
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“Hill Street Blues” is credited with changing the face of cop shows. But in its fall issue, TV Guide quoted a media rep as predicting it would fail because it just wasn’t interesting enough. As Belker might say, “Wrong again, dog breath!”
 
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The original Law & Order tied with Gunsmoke as the longest running drama on TV, both lasting an incredible 20 years. Creator Dick Wolf was tremendously unhappy with the cancellation, hoping his police-to-court concept show would set an all-time longevity record. That wish didn’t come true but he achieved it anyway – the spin-off, “Law & Order: SVU,” will make it to 21 years when it returns in the fall.
 
Here’s how what was then an unheard of concept was first described.
 
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There weren’t that many anthology comedies on network TV in its history. And that made Love American Style something very new and very special for ABC. In addition to having one of the most memorable theme songs, it also has the distinction of being the place where a segment originally called “Love & The Television Set” aired on Feb. 25, 1972. That would eventually be spun off into a series of its own. Its name: “Happy Days.”
 
Also check out the other show featured on this page – something called “The Music Scene,” based on a sneak peek at next week’s Billboard Hot 100.
 
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In a similar vein but many years later, the world was introduced to The Partridge Family, a direct steal based on the life of the Cowsills. The fact that David Cassidy started turning out hit records didn’t hurt the show's chances, a fact no one knew when it started in 1970.
 
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But the granddaddy of all the music-mixed-with-charts, beyond Ricky Nelson on “Ozzie and Harriet,” had to be The Monkees, a show inspired by Beatlemania. By the time it debuted, the so-called Pre-Fab Four already had a few hits on Billboard. And though the show was short-lived – despite winning an Emmy for Best Comedy - the Monkee memories still live on.
 
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It started out as a mission to seek ratings. And it turned out not to be impossible. The Mission Impossible franchise was an unusual switch on the spy genre and not only wound up running for years, but spawned an unending number of Tom Cruise movies based on the show. Check out how young Steven Hill was in this promo shot. He would later go on to play crusty - and much older - D.A. Adam Schiff in the previously previewed original "Law & Order."

Here’s how M.I. was first described way back in 1966.
 
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It was corny, it was schmaltzy and it was family friendly. And not only did North Americans eat it up, they practically grew up with The Waltons. It began as a Christmas TV movie called “The Homecoming,” with a few different cast members. It was so well received, the network turned it into a series. And it ran so long, many of the kids grew up, got married and had children of their own. Despite the time period when it took place and the time slot it was placed in, it was anything but a Depression for CBS.
 
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Goodnight John Boy!

Instant Replay: Your "Guide" To Saturday Morning TV