What’s on TV?: Thursday Nights (Fall 1965)
Hey, hey, hey! Kim here. I’m back today to continue my deep-dive into the year of 1965 in television. Over the first half of the week, the general trend has been CBS dominance, thanks to shows like Green Acres, Petticoat Junction and The Beverly Hillbillies.
As we cruise into Thursday night, things are continuing in much the same way we saw it on Wednesday. There’s lots to love and enjoy, but at the same time, we can see the push and pull of competition here. Thursday night gives us some truly interesting match-ups with a wide variety of hits and misses.
The night opens up with the networks courting a certain tone. ABC started off with the musical variety series Shindig. Looking at the history of the show, it was in a chronic state of transition. The series had changed format repeatedly over its run, from a half hour, to an hour and at this point, a half hour twice a week. The market was wide open for variety shows during the era with a plethora of acts appealing to young people. However, as we’ll soon discuss, the show had hefty competition in this spot and it would be cancelled at midseason.
Thursday night very much proves to be identical to Wednesday night. As midseason rolled around, ABC slid the second night of Batman into the time slot. While the action series only lasted three seasons, it remains an iconic part of culture in the United States. Adam West and Burt Ward’s performances are comfortable, nostalgic and will always be remembered.
Meanwhile, CBS kept a very similar tone, bringing the second and final season of The Munsters. The situation comedy starred Fred Gwynne, Yvonne DeCarlo, Al Lewis, Butch Patrick and Pat Priest as a family who look eerily familiar to the Universal Monsters… then there is their quirky niece Marilyn. The Munsters is such a fun show and this is why it’s another that we still remember.
Like Wednesday night, NBC is the outlier in terms of content, airing what would be the second season of Daniel Boone. The nostalgic drama featured Fess Parker in the titular role. The series was just starting a long run and would remain on the network until the 1970s.
While Daniel Boone continued on NBC, the other networks continued with their half hour, situation comedy programming.
ABC started with the final season of long-running, perennial classic, The Donna Reed Show. The series starred Donna Reed, Carl Betz, Shelley Fabares and Paul Petersen and followed the Stone family (led by pediatrician patriarch Alex) through their domestic adventures. The series premiered in 1958 and had been a continually strong performer, even after the transition caused by Fabares early departure in 1963. While she did recur occasionally, the series brought in Paul Petersen’s real life younger sister Patty in the role of Trisha, an orphan adopted by the Stone family.
The Donna Reed Show came to an end in March and was replaced by the remainder of the network’s episodes of Gidget. The series, which followed plucky teenage surfer Gidget, starred Sally Field in the titular role. The series had initially premiered on Wednesday, but struggled opposite The Beverly Hillbillies.
Gidget just couldn’t catch a break. While it was finally rid of the power of the Clampet family, it moved in opposite the second season of this little show.
Gilligan’s Island really doesn’t need an introduction from me. This series has been immortalized in popular culture. Even in the rare event you haven’t seen an episode, you still know about Giligan, the Skipper and their three hour tour on the S.S. Minnow. The series starred Bob Denver, Alan Hale, Jim Backus, Natalie Scaffer, Russell Johnson, Dawn Welles and Tina Louise as the infamous castaways. The show would run on the network for another season before being cancelled in 1967.
Starting the next hour block, the tone of the night stayed relative steady.
NBC followed Daniel Boone with the debut season hour long western, Laredo. The series followed the adventures of three Texas Rangers in the old west and starred Neville Brand, Peter Brown and William Smith. The show would receive two full seasons before its cancellation in 1967.
Meanwhile, CBS ran with yet another perennial classic– and one you’ve undoubtedly heard of– My Three Sons. The long running family sitcom was in a bit of a transition at this point. This was the show’s first year on CBS, having aired on ABC for its first four seasons. The production was also going through a number of casting changes. It was only midway through the previous season that William Demarest had joined the show to replace the ailing William Frawley. Meanwhile actor Tim Considine — who played eldest son Mike– departed the show in the season premiere to be replaced by — you guessed it!– a plucky young orphan played by Barry Livingston. While there was a lot going on, as you probably already know, don’t fear for My Three Sons. The show would continue on the air through 1972.
So, after all this, you know what’s coming. Poor ABC still had a show which needed to run. The network put forward the first and only season of O.K. Crackerby. The series starred national treasure Burl Ives, Brooke Adams, Brian Corcoran and Dick Foran. According to episode descriptions, the series followed Ives as O.K. Crackerby, the richest man in the world. However, he’s a bit rough-and-tumble, which means he can’t seem to earn respect in polite society. Yeah, I hear it too… the network was trying to compete with The Beverly Hillbillies. The show was quickly cancelled.
The show was replaced at midseason by another deep cut on the network, The Double Life of Henry Phyfe. The series starred comedian Red Buttons in the titular role as a mild-mannered accountant who becomes an international man of mystery. The series unfortunately only received a half season before it was cancelled.
While NBC aired the second half of Laredo and CBS transitioned into the Thursday night movie, ABC had a wide open opportunity to catch their breath after the CBS dominance of the rest of the night.
Bewitched sees ABC reaching the same status of legendary dominance of the CBS shows the rest of the night. Everyone knows that nose twitch. The series starred Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha Stevens, a woman trying to get by in mid-twentieth century suburbia without everyone figuring out that she is indeed a witch. The series co-starred Dick York and Agnes Moorehead. The show was just in it’s second season at this point, and would run for a grand total of 8 seasons on the network before its cancellation.
Over on CBS, the Thursday Night Movie was mid-run. So ABC followed up the dominance of Bewitched with another show we’ve already heard quite a lot about this season, Peyton Place. As I’ve already mentioned, the primetime soap was entering its second season and aired three times a week in half hour installments.
Meanwhile, NBC aired the first and only season of Mona McCluskey. The sitcom starred Juliet Prowse and Denny Scott Miller and featured a young couple struggling to get by on the husband’s air force salary while the wife worked as a professional actress. The series was cancelled in the spring.
As the night came to a close, CBS was still wrapping up the Thursday Night Movie. Over on NBC, they had the debut season of The Dean Martin Show. The series, while being virtually impossible to find in syndication, has proven to hold a fondness in the pop culture memory for oh-so-many reasons. The Gold Diggers. The celebrity guests. Dean Martin’s persona. The variety show would continue on the network until 1972.
Meanwhile, ABC started the night with The Long Hot Summer. We discussed the show in our Wednesday night video. The character drama starting Edmond O’Brian was moved to the Wednesday night timeslot when Burke’s Law came to an end.
The Long Hot Summer was replaced in the timeslot by The Baron. The show starred Steve Forrest as an undercover agent masquerading as an antique dealer. The show costarred Sue Lloyd and Paul Ferris.
By and large, I’d say CBS walked away with this one again thanks to The Musters, Gilligan’s Island, My Three Sons three-pete. The power of this duo is cemented I would say by the narrative carnage left in their wake. Gidget had fled Wednesday and competition with The Beverly Hillbillies to end up on Thursdays against Gilligan’s Island. That’s just mean.
At the same time, My Three Sons came out victorious against not only one, but two ABC shows. Like Wednesday though, it seems like the competition was really between CBS and ABC. While all this was going on, NBC was off in their own little world with with action series Daniel Boone and Laredo. While westerns were by and large starting to disappear from the mainstream line-up, there were still alive and well over on NBC.
We’ve still alot of television still to come. Stay tuned as I talk about Friday. If you think the last two days in the line-up have been busy, the shows hitting the airwaves on Friday are equally as packed.
Stay tuned for more here at Ticklish Business as we honor and deconstruct the world of classic entertainment. My name is Kim. You can find me on Twitter at @Ticklish_Biz as well as @kpierce624. Facebook person? Give us a like or a follow over at Ticklish Business Podcast. We have lots of additional classic entertainment content posting at journey in classic film dot com. As always, if you like what you’re seeing, please like and subscribe.
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