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.