Q & A: Good Morning, World; Carter Country; Murder and the Android

I get a lot of e-mails from people asking me about television shows, made-for-TV movies or miniseries they remember from years or decades past. I try to answer each question as best I can. Every now and then I like to dig through my inbox and pull out a few choice e-mails to answer here at Television Obscurities for everyone to read. Keep reading for today’s questions and answers.

I am thinking of two shows that aired in the sixties maybe early seventies. I can’t remember the names or who was in them. One I think was about a radio station. (Not WKRP) the owner would come and say something like ” I run my station like I ran my ship” and one of the DJ’s would say “aground” that is all can remember and it is driving me crazy. The other one was I think about a police station and the mayor would come in with a problem and always leave saying “handle it, handle it”. Do you know the names of these shows and who was in them? Thanks for the help!
Kathy

The first show, the one about the radio station, was a sitcom called Good Morning, World. It ran on CBS from 1967-1968. Joby Baker and Ronnie Schell starred as David Lewis and Larry Clarke, disc jockeys at a small radio station in Los Angeles. Julie Parrish played David’s wife Linda and Goldie Hawn was their neighbor Sandy. Billy De Wolfe played David and Larry’s boss, Roland B. Hutton, Jr.

The series was created by Bill Persky and Sam Denoff, award-winning writers for The Dick Van Dyke Show, and was produced by Carl Reiner and Sheldon Leonard, who also produced The Dick Van Dyke Show. The big names behind the scenes led The Chicago Tribune to note that the show was “created, written and produced by a combination of the most talented men in television comedy” but then point out that “there didn’t seem much evidence of it in the opener” [1]. The paper called the premiere episode “run-of-the-mill” but due to the behind-the-scenes talent suggested that “maybe the pace will pick up” [2].

According to The New York Times, before the series premiered Joby Baker and Ronnie Schell actually filled in on the air for a pair of disc jockeys in Hollywood while they were on vacation. Bill Persky summed up their time on the air: “The first day they were awkward. The second day was better. By the end of the week, the boys were real ad libbers” [3]. A total of 26 episodes were broadcast and, happily, the entire series was released on DVD in January of 2006.

Carter Country is the second show, an ABC sitcom that ran from 1977 to 1979. The action took place in a small town in Georgia and focused on the interaction between the town’s white chief of police Roy Mobey (played by Victor French) and his African-American deputy Curtis Baker (played by Kene Holliday). Mobey was a redneck, for lack of a better word, and Baker was college educated. Richard Paul played Mayor Burnside, who would often scream “Handle it, handle it!”

Critic Gary Deeb of The Chicago Tribune hated the series:

Imagine, if you will, a weekly television program in which the lone white character is intelligent, honest, hard-working, and compassionate, although the rest of the cast consists of a bunch of stupid, shuffling black folks who act like updates of Stepin Fetchit and Butterfly McQueen. The white guy is always right; the blacks always are guilty of ignorance and goldbricking.

Such a program would become an immediate collector’s item — because it wouldn’t last more than one performance. The network that carried it probably would be transformed into a parking lot by the next morning.

Black groups would term the show an ethnic slur. Responsible whites would agree. Advertisers would avoid the program like the plague. And the Rev. Jesse Jackson would call a series of press conferences to denounce the program’s racist viewpoint.

Well, there really is a TV show like that. But instead of slandering blacks, it hoses down whites. It’s particularly vicious in its treatment of rural Southerns, a group that has been victimized by every cheap shot in the book since the creation of TV. [4]

John J. O’Connor of The New York Times, however, noting that Bud Yorkin was an executive producer of the series, wrote that Carter Country “is put together with clever expertise. The jokes keep rolling along and many of them are funny in the insult-style of much TV comedy” [5]. And The Los Angeles Times called Carter Country “a funny show, the funniest of ABC’s deluge of comedies this season–judging, of course, by the opening stanza tonight” [6].

I once saw a show maybe it was on Playhouse 90 with Kevin Mccarthy. I think it was called “The Android” It was about a couple who had an android as a servant. The man was very abusive to both his wife and the android. In the end the man is killed and the wife says he was the android and saves the real android from being destroyed. Any knowledge of this program?
Richard

The show in question was an episode of NBC’s Sunday Showcase called “Murder and the Android” that aired on Sunday, November 8th, 1959. Some sources indicate it aired on October 18th but television listings in The New York Times, The Chicago Daily Tribune and The Los Angeles Times all indicate it aired on November 8th.

Advertisement for Murder and the Android
Advertisement for Murder and the Android – November 8th, 1959
Copyright © Los Angeles Times, 1959 [1]

The episode starred Rip Torn as the android along with Kevin McCarthy, Suzanne Pleshette, Vladimir Sokoloff and Sono Osato. It was written by science fiction author Alfred Bester and was nominated for a Hugo Award (but lost to The Twilight Zone). It is available for viewing at the Paley Center for Media.

Works Cited:

1 “Today’s TV: 3 New Series–Shooting Shenanigans to Slapstick.” Chicago Tribune. 6 Sep. 1967: B19.
2 Ibid.
3 Dallos, Robert E. “Television: Africa Speaks Out.” New York Times. 10 Sep. 1967: 138.
4 Deeb, Gary. “‘Carter Country’ is Just Plains Insulting.” Chicago Tribune. 15 Sep. 1977: A8.
5 O’Connor, John J. “TV: Here’s the Kiddie-Market Entry.” New York Times. 15 Sep. 1977: 92.
6 “Carter Country on ABC.” Los Angeles Times. 15 Sep. 1977: H27.

Image Credits:

1 From The Los Angeles Times, November 8th, 1959, Page G2.


4 Comments

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    “GOOD MORNING WORLD” (inspired by Persky & Denoff’s experiences working at WNEW-AM in New York during the ’50s- in fact, the title was based on the station’s #1 disc jockey William B. Williams’ greeting, “Hello, World!”), as previously mentioned, was Procter & Gamble’s “replacement” for “PETTICOAT JUNCTION” in their Tuesday night time period on CBS in the fall of 1967 [“JUNCTION” moved to Saturday nights for different sponsors]. P&G wanted a more “youthful, urban audience” to pitch their products [Crest, Tide, etc.] that season, and Carl Reiner & Sheldon Leonard, because of their previous success with “THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW” for the same sponsor, convinced them to “buy” the show. Unfortunately, the ratings weren’t as high as “PETTICOAT JUNCTION”‘s had been [“GOOD MORNING WORLD” really didn’t appeal to the primarily “rural” audience who watched “THE RED SKELTON HOUR” before they came on], and P&G dropped the series at the end of the season in favor of “THE DORIS DAY SHOW” for Fall 1968.

    As for the “SUNDAY SHOWCASE” presentation of “Murder and the Android”, it was originally broadcast in color (as mentioned in the ad), but only the black and white kinescope [on deposit at the Paley Center For Media] exists. The evening’s “competition” on CBS, “THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW”, featured guest performers Johnny Mathis (singing “Misty” and “The Best Of Everything”), The Barry Sisters [Claire & Merna], Jan Murray, Gracie Fields, Ricky Layne & “Velvel” {frequent performers}, The Lentini Brothers, and other “speciality acts”…and Ed got the larger share of the audience.

  • Gary Deeb’s perceived bias against rural southerners is not entirely without merit, however, I remember not wanting to watch this show because of the promos. One had Mobey asking Baker whether he liked fried chicken. Baker replied that he didn’t and then he went into a mocking dance, clucking and flapping his arms. This was the promo I may have seen:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZOb3SmYqWE&feature=related

    One episode that might have pleased Deeb was Mayor Burnside (“Your mayor by a landslide”) and his rival. Baker finds out from Mobey that Burnside’s predecessor was incompetent, even more so than Burnside. Baker finds out that the predecessor was African-American, so he throws his support behind him, before he realizes that the old mayor is indeed incompetent (he wanted to build a dam, after a new river was built).

    On a second watching (my first in thirty years), Mobey and Cloris Frebus seem to have a “somewhat enlightened but learning” attitude, Jasper is a full-blown racist (and he is called on it, frequently by Mobey and Cloris) and the Mayor’s character reflects the skepticism of politicians in a post-war era. The Af-Am characters’ slang creaks under thirty year’s weight, however their characters seem to be OK.

    Deeb’s point was addressed by the “Andy Griffith Show”, which Griffith did in part to show that Southerners were not stupid. I didn’t find this show’s makeup much different than any other show and I didn’t find this episode “particularly vicious”, however I am looking through the eyes of one who doesn’t believe that in an industry that is still dominated by Caucasian performers that diversity is an issue.

    Deeb, in his rush to defend the South, may have been nursing a bias of his (which, I will confess I shared at one time), which is the notion that ANYTHING said with any type of southern accent sounds stupid.

    If this show was viewed as a comedic take on the movie “In the Heat of the Night”, Deeb could have leveled the same commentary on the movie and he would have been dead on the money.

    Having said all of that, “Carter Country” was a decent show. It may not merit DVD reissue, but seeing that “Quark”, of all things has been released, on a pure quality basis, this could have been put out, but who would buy it?

    Does anyone else find it kind of funny that CARTER Country took place in the fictional town of CLINTON Corners, GA and the station is on OBAMA Lane?

    OK, the third bit isn’t true, but the other two are.

  • Ken Tucky says:

    Gary Deeb must not have been paying close attention when he watched ‘Carter Country.’ Not all of the white characters were idiots and/or racists.
    Victor French’s Roy Mobey was a slob, but he was a honest, intelligent cop who did his job well, wasn’t a racist, and treated Baker with respect.
    Barbara Cason’s character (I forget her name) was intelligent, capable, and non-racist. Officer Harley was a dumb, good ole boy — but an honest cop and a decent, likable person. Yes, Jasper was a racist — but he was the only outright racist on the show.
    Baker wasn’t always right. And the white characters weren’t always wrong. I’m a white Southerner, and I’m often offended by how the South is portrayed on TV. And ‘Carter Country’ didn’t offend me.

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