Television as a transmitter of shared cultural values and memories has been with us for some time, being just now eclipsed by the Internet Age. But, for us Boomers who grew up with TV, from Howdy Doody Time, to the shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald broadcast live, to the landing on the moon, and as such, for better or worse, TV has helped to shape our American culture.
If I ask, "who would you rather go out with, Ginger or Mary Ann?", most of you know immediately what I am talking about. If I type the words "a three hour tour", most of you will have the song running through your head before the end of this sentence. And you know all the words, don't you?
But, today, I want to test the "little grey cells", as Hercule Poirot would say. Everyone knew Gilligan and Mork and the Fonz...what do you recall that was not universally memorable? What shows did you enjoy or at least remember that did not make the cut? Shows that were perhaps too quirky to become a part of the general Zeitgeist? (Extra points if it didn't even last a whole season!)
For some reason, the show "Hooperman" popped into my head this AM. John Ritter's "Hooperman" did last a full two seasons, so it was not as awful as some. It may even be available on DVD for all you Hooperman junkies!
I see so many old TV shows popping up on DVD. Many shows not popular enough for a second broadcast run can be purchased in their entirety on DVD. Even great shows like Firefly can be doomed by poor scheduling or ratings.
But, nostalgia sells, and the costs in transferring many older shows to disc is relatively inexpensive. I was surprised to see that JAG had its 10th season out on DVD. The show NCIS, one of the most popular shows on broadcast TV, was spun off from JAG and is, I believe in its seventh season, for seventeen years of Naval courtroom and forensic drama. (See? It only seems like they've been around forever!) Heh.
What can you come up with? There were shows so bad they were pulled after their first season, others were so bad they were pulled after their first show! Wiki has a whole list of shows canceled after one airing. Does the name "Poochinski" ring a bell? Viva Laughlin?? Seems to me there was another highly hyped show just recently that was pulled after only one episode, but the name (perhaps thankfully) escapes me.
Even the execrable Cop Rock made one whole season! (#8 on TV Guide's List of the 50 Worst TV Shows of All Time, 2002)
It's a Man's World, which I liked pretty well at the time, lasted four months.
For a list of the more popular shows from the fifties, and a walk down memory lane, go here.
One thing I'd forgotten: Did you know there was a TV show featuring Confederate army Major John Singleton Mosby as its hero? (Can you imagine anyone trying to sell that series today?): Gray Ghost
So, what obscure bit of trivia do you have about some short lived attempt to catch the public's attention? There's the "Seinfeld curse", of course : Julia Louis-Dreyfus' Watching Ellie, Jason Alexander's Bob Patterson and Listen Up!, and Michael Richards' The Michael Richards Show.
There was AfterMASH (canceled nine episodes into its second season) and Hello Larry, which ran two full seasons, demonstrating that the public liked Lt. Colonel Henry Blake better than they did McLean Stevenson.
I'd be curious to know what you can come up with! And, there are prizes!
First place in today's trivia tournament will win you an adult beverage of your choice the first (next) time we meet!
Second place, I buy you dinner and a movie.
Third place is a weekend in Tijuana with copious amounts of alcohol, antibiotics and alibis, so try really hard to be first! Heh.
Bonus video: Gray Ghost