My Very Favorite Obscurity

Of the 40 obscure television shows I’ve written in-depth articles about here at Television Obscurities over the past ten years, my personal favorite is without a doubt The New People. It is in many ways responsible for the existence of this website. It was really my first introduction to the world of short-lived and forgotten television. But how did I stumble upon it in the first place? It’s not like it was being repeated on television when I was growing up.

I don’t remember exactly how I first came upon The New People. I know it is mentioned briefly in Marc Scott Zicree’s The Twilight Zone Companion, a book I read cover to cover several times. That may have been the first time I read about the show. This would have been sometime in the late 1990s. At about that time I had acquired had a copy of Alex McNeil’s Total Television from a family member and I am sure I read the entry on The New People a dozen times trying to glean as much from it as possible.

Luckily for me, my father had watched and enjoyed The New People when he was a kid and had a few vague recollections of some of the episodes. Coincidentally, he had started collecting TV Guide fall preview issues in 1968 so he had the 1969 fall preview issue with an entry on The New People. As if that wasn’t enough, he also had an old reel of 1/4″ audio tape with the theme song to The New People on it. What were the odds?

I was eventually able to get my hands on a VHS tape with the pilot episode to The New People. I sat down and watched it with my parents, excited to finally see what all the fuss was about. I loved it. I don’t think they did. I’ve only seen that first episode but would love to one day see all 17

I have since put together a substantial collection of memorabilia relating to The New People: the Tempo tie-in novel written by William Johnston using the pseudonym Alex Steele, both Dell comics and their Spanish reprints, several ABC press photographs and press releases, a script for the December 29th, 1969 episode (“The Prisoner of Bomano”), a pair of glass slides that would have been used in a film chain by a television station, and a number of audio tapes used in the production of the series.

So, yes, The New People is easily my very favorite obscurity..

3 Comments

  • DuMont says:

    It is copasetic to learn that ‘The New People’ is your favourite obscurity, as it is the reason I chanced upon your site many years ago, not too long after the pilot of ‘Lost’ was broadcast, and having this feeling it was a concept lift from ‘The New People’ or LOST FLIGHT and a couple of other 1970s backdoor pilots that used airplane crash survivors as a premise. I think I was fishing around trying to learn why Mr. Rod Serling ankled the project when it got picked up to series, and then went to the fuss and bother of having his name removed from the credits, and in Googling about that, I came across your website.

    I am abroad right now, so I will have to await my return home to go back into my files, but I might have a few bits and pieces about ‘The New People’ to share with you. I know I have a few reviews of its premiere (which I have seen), and I might also have some Nielsens to share…as I remember, they were not horrible, just less than expected by Madison Avenue, and of course, too young-skewing (just like ‘Gidget’) which wasn’t the be-all-and-end-all that it is today.

    What I particularly liked about the pilot was the Serlingesque cautionary tale of an island that at the surface looked to be a some sort of abandoned movie set but with sinister purposes underfoot, with a Vietnam overlay that probed and mined all the fears and insecurities of young people in the late sixties. It was very evocative of PLANET OF THE APES in my opinion, and I really liked the idealism projected by some of the survivors about building a new society and re-arranging the power structure that got on board the plane by upsetting all the conventional archtypes once on the island…I remember very “Lord of the Flies”/”Animal Farm” archetype plotting, the football jock trying to take control of things and become the leader, Serling’s way of asserting “some pigs are better than others”.

    I wonder how many other followers of your well-researched, authoritative website were also drawn in by ‘The New People’? Forty-plus years on, and we’re ‘The New People’s people.

  • I have written about both the pilot and the novelization here:

    http://craneshot.blogspot.com/search/label/New%20People

    Boy, I would love to see more episodes. Such an intriguing concept (that was ripped off less interestingly by LOST) and setting for intelligent discussion of important issues. And, of course, pulp adventure. I’m guessing none of the episodes reach the ludicrous heights (lows) of the book, which is about an army of killer crabs invading the island!

    • Robert says:

      Marty, I loved The New People novel. It really is just totally bizarre. I haven’t read it in probably eight or nine years. Time for a reread.

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