40th Anniversary of Fall 1974

Forty years ago today the 1974-1975 television season officially got underway on Monday, September 9th, 1974 with the premieres of two new shows: Born Free on NBC and Rhoda on CBS. Rhoda was a huge success, topping the Nielsen chart for the first week of the new season and ultimately ranking sixth for the season overall. Born Free didn’t fare nearly as well and was off the air by the end of December.

The networks introduced more than 20 new shows, most of which either flopped immediately or limped through the season before being cancelled. Only a handful returned for the 1975-1976 season, including Little House on the Prairie (NBC), That’s My Mama (ABC), and Rhoda (CBS). Here’s a complete list of the news shows for Fall 1974:

New Shows for Fall 1974

ABC: The Sonny Comedy Revue, That’s My Mama, Get Christie Love!, Paper Moon, Harry O, Kodiak, The Texas Wheelers, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, The New Land, Nakia

CBS: Rhoda, Sons and Daughters, The Manhunter, Planet of the Apes, Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers

NBC: Born Free, Little House on the Prairie, Lucas Tanner, Petrocelli, Sierra, Movin’ On, Chicago and the Man, The Rockford Files, Police Woman

How many do you remember?

I’ve written about Fall 1974 and the 1974-1975 season a number of times here at Television Obscurities. I don’t know why I’m so fascinated with this particular season. It could be because I’m a huge fan of the Planet of the Apes franchise and CBS had a expensive failure in Planet of the Apes during the 1974-1975 season. Or maybe while flipping through TV Guide fall preview issues something caught my eye about Fall 1974.

Whatever the reason, one of my earliest articles was a three-part look at Fall 1974, the first of what was planned as a series of articles examining all of the short-lived shows introduced at the start of specific seasons. I eventually decided not to continue with that concept. Another early article focused on Sons and Daughters, a short-lived CBS drama that premiered in September 1974 and was off the air nine episodes later.

I’ve also written a Spotlight about NBC’s Sierra, which was cancelled after just four episodes had aired. And I’ve examined the impact of a court ruling blocking the FCC from relaxing the Prime Time Access Rule and returning a half-hour of prime time to the networks, which resulted in a number of sitcoms being cancelled before they premiered or post-poned until later dates.

Later today, I’ll be publishing the first part of a special feature on the 1974 development season, this one highlighting ABC’s 36 pilots for the 1974-1975 season, with part two coming next week and part three the week after that. This month’s Spotlight will be on a Fall 1974 sitcom but you’ll have to wait and see which one.

Despite my continued interest in the 1974-1975 season there are a lot of shows introduced that fall that I’ve never had the opportunity to watch, including Paper Moon, Kodiak, The Manhunter, and Born Free (which is available on DVD). And I’ve seen only one episode of several others, like Lucas Tanner, The Texas Wheelers, and Nakia. I think ABC’s The New Land may be the most obscure of all the new Fall 1974 shows and I’d love to be able to see an episode or two.


1 Comment

  • David says:

    I remember this particular season very well. “Rhoda” was highly-anticipated. I remember watching the premiere, and talking about it with friends the next morning while standing outside of school before we went in for the day. I think this was the beginning of the era where shows were yanked off the air with lightning speed if the ratings were not high right out of the gate.

    The Sonny Comedy Revue – I vaguely remember this. I think I may have seen an episode or two.
    That’s My Mama – I never watched this at the time, but was very aware of it. I have seen episodes recently. At the time it was on against “Sons and Daughters” and “Little House on the Prairie.”
    Get Christie Love! – I remember this, but never watched it.
    Paper Moon – I really liked this show, and watched it regularly until its quick cancellation. I was sorry to see it go off the air.
    Harry O – I never watched this.
    Kodiak – I never watched this. I do not even remember it.
    The Texas Wheelers – I watched one episode of this, and thought it was unfunny and awful. I recall expecting something different – and better – because it was an MTM show. It was certainly a departure for MTM.
    Kolchak: The Night Stalker – I never watched this, but was aware of it.
    The New Land – I remember this, but never watched it.
    Nakia – I do not remember this show.

    Rhoda – I adored this show, and watched it faithfully.
    Sons and Daughters – I adored this show, and was extremely disappointed when it was cancelled so quickly.
    The Manhunter – I do not remember this.
    Planet of the Apes – I watched this a few times, and thought it was OK.
    Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers – I liked it. I think it was a surprise that it did not catch on, given its favorable Saturday night time slot. Paul Sand seems to be one of those performers who was on the cusp of hitting it really big, but never became a major name. I am sure the failure of this show did not help.

    Born Free – I never watched this.
    Little House on the Prairie – I liked this a lot, at least for the first couple seasons. I probably started watching it after “Sons and Daughters” was cancelled. I do recall seeing the original movie pilot before the series premiered, which must have been 90 or 120 minutes long.
    Lucas Tanner – I really liked this. My mother liked it too. I was sorry to see it cancelled so quickly. It was likable and intelligent.
    Petrocelli – I never watched this.
    Sierra – I do not remember this. I did enjoy reading about it on this site a couple months ago.
    Movin’ On – I was aware of this, but never watched it.
    Chico and the Man – I really liked this show. I still remember hearing the news about Freddie Prinze’s death. What a tragedy.
    The Rockford Files – I was aware of this, but never watched it.
    Police Woman – I was aware of this, but never watched it.

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