New Article: The Tammy Grimes Show

My article on The Tammy Grimes Show is finished and can be found here. I mentioned it a few times over the past three or four months. Here’s the summary:

ABC cancelled this kooky sitcom after just four episodes in September 1966 before the first Nielsen ratings for the season had even been released. The network supposedly never wanted to air the show in the first place but a sponsor insisted. Tammy Grimes starred as a wacky heiress prone to wild schemes that often involved costumes and impersonations. Richard Sargent co-starred as her calmer twin brother. Critics hated the show but loved Grimes, who felt viewers couldn’t relate to her character.

This wasn’t a particularly difficult article to write but one thing gave me pause. I really didn’t want to rely so heavily on a single source, specifically an article about The Tammy Grimes Show published in the December 31st, 1966 issue of TV Guide. The five-page article includes a wealth of information about the development of the sitcom and its failure. It also features quotes from many of those involved, including Grimes and executive producer William Dozier. There were just too many details in the article not to refer to it extensively. But I also dug up several dozen other newspaper and magazine articles and referenced many of them as well, so I’m comfortable with how the article turned out.

The Tammy Grime Show is notorious for how spectacularly it flopped. ABC pulled it off the air so fast the first Nielsen ratings for the 1966-1967 season were still weeks away from being published. But a flop TV show isn’t necessarily a bad TV show. I was able to view all four aired episodes and honestly didn’t think it was any worse than My Mother The Car or It’s About Time (two shows I’m currently watching and enjoying on Antenna TV). Maybe that means I’m not a good judge of quality when it comes to television.

It’s impossible almost five decades later to watch The Tammy Grimes Show with the same understanding and frame of reference that viewers in 1966 did. I can’t say why it was such a flop. Critics hated it but loved Tammy Grimes. Grimes loved the pilot script but not episodes that came after it. Maybe if it had a different time slot it could have lasted longer. Maybe if Tammy Grimes didn’t have such an unusual voice viewers would have been more interested in watching her. Maybe the concept was just too weak and the main character–a kooky heiress obsessed with money–was too inaccessible. Maybe it was just not meant to be.

If you’re interested in learning more about the show, take a few minutes to read the full article. Sometime next week I hope to discuss the six unaired episodes of the show and the four unproduced episodes.

Q & A: CBS Film Fillers; A Hard Day’s Night on TV

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 even decades past. I try to answer each question as best I can. Every now and then I like to pull out a few e-mails to answer here at Television Obscurities for everyone to enjoy. Keep reading for today’s questions and answers.

I am searching for two film shorts that aired on CBS September 14 & 15 1967. CBS aired the movie “The Great Escape” over those two nights and at the end of Parts 1 & 2 (Thursday & Friday) they aired two films that I have been looking for for a long time. I was wondering if you could help me track them down or even the names of these films.

I thought for sure this was going to be an impossible question to answer so imagine my surprise when I found an article in The Hartford Courant that included the titles of the two short films in question.

Both parts of The Great Escape were scheduled to air from 9-11PM and to fill the two hours, CBS needed some filler. The first part aired on Thursday, September 14th, 1967 and was followed by a five-minute short film called The Do-It-Yourself Cartoon Kit. The color short was originally released in 1961 and featured animation by Bob Godfrey. The complete short isn’t available online but here’s an excerpt:

The second half of The Great Escape aired on Friday, September 15th, 1967 and was followed by a 1964 short film called Rainshower. The 15-minute film included absolutely no narration. It was produced by Dimension Films and distributed by Churchill Films. Here’s the full short courtesy of the Internet Archive:

Millions of viewers watched The Do-It-Yourself Cartoon Kit and Rainshower. The second half of The Great Escape was the highest-rated program for the week of September 11-17th, 1967. The first half ranked second.

I am trying to find out when the Beatles theatrical film A Hard Day’s Night first aired on a U.S. TV network. I believe it may have been NBC in either 1966 or 1967. Do you have an actual air date? Thanks.

A Hard Day’s Night was The Beatles first film. It hit theaters in 1964. NBC aired the film as a special presentation on Tuesday, October 24th, 1967 from 7:30-9:15PM, pre-empting I Dream of Jeannie and The Jerry Lewis Show. Because the film was in black and white, the regular NBC peacock animation could not be used. In its place, a special animated opening with a penguin was substituted:

It was a double feature for NBC that night, with the 1960 Jerry Lewis film Cinderfella airing from 9:15-11PM as an installment of NBC Tuesday Night at the Movies.

“New show get no brass rings.” Broadcasting. 2 Oct. 1967: 60.
“Two-Part Film to Get Support of 2 ‘Shorts’.” Hartford Courant. 10 Sep. 1967: 13G.

Adams Street Auto Dealers Commercial

It’s Local Connecticut Commercials Week! The following commercial originally aired on WTXX (Channel 20) in Connecticut.

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Here’s a commercial for a tent sale featuring the Adams Street Auto Dealers (Cardinal Buick, Bob Riley Oldsmobile, Manchester Hondo) in Manchester, CT. The commercial aired in July 1987.

Essex Motor Inn Commercial

It’s Local Connecticut Commercials Week! The following commercial originally aired on WTXX (Channel 20) in Connecticut.

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Here’s a commercial for the Essex Motor Inn in Manchester, CT. The commercial aired in July 1987.

Shoor Brothers Commercial

It’s Local Connecticut Commercials Week! The following commercial originally aired on WTXX (Channel 20) in Connecticut.

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Here’s a commercial for a Going Out of Business Sale at the Shoor Brothers furniture store in Plainville, CT. The commercial aired in July 1987.

Southern Connecticut State College Commercial

It’s Local Connecticut Commercials Week! The following commercial originally aired on WTXX (Channel 20) in Connecticut.

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Here’s a commercial for Southern Connecticut State College, located in New Haven, CT. The commercial aired in January 1987.

Lebanon Sport Centre Commercial

It’s Local Connecticut Commercials Week! The following commercial originally aired on WTXX (Channel 20) in Connecticut.

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Here’s a commercial for the Lebanon Sport Centre, located in Lebanon, CT. The commercial aired in March 1987.

Broadcast Log for Girl About Town

Girl About Town was Kyle MacDonnell’s second television series on NBC–after the original incarnation of For Your Pleasure–and her first to have a sponsor: Bates Fabrics, Inc. Although the company signed a 52-week contract with NBC, only 43 episodes were broadcast before the series was cancelled.

The series premiered in September 1948 and initially aired on Wednesdays at 8PM with each episode running 20 minutes. It moved to Sundays at 10:10PM in February 1949.

Unlike For Your Pleasure, which featured a nightclub atmosphere, Girl About Time gave the impression that Kyle was rushing around New York City meeting people and performing in venues throughout the city. As was the case with For Your Pleasure, Kyle was backed by the Norman Paris Trio. Actor Johnny Downs played Kyle’s “press agent” responsible for getting her gigs. Downs was replaced by Earl Wrightson in October or November 1948.

*Airs Wednesdays at 8:00PM*
Ep. # Airdate Guests
1. 09/08/1948 Unknown
2. 09/15/1948 Unknown
3. 09/22/1948 Unknown
4. 09/29/1948 Tommy Dorsey
5. 10/06/1948 Randall Weeks
6. 10/13/1948 Unknown
7. 10/20/1948 Unknown
8. 10/27/1948 Ellsworth and Fairchild (dancers)
9. 11/03/1948 Unknown
10. 11/10/1948 Unknown
11. 11/17/1948 Rosario and Antonio
12. 11/24/1948 Unknown
13. 12/01/1948 Earl Wrightson
14. 12/08/1948 Pancho and Diane; Russell Swan
15. 12/15/1948 Unknown
16. 12/22/1948 Unknown
17. 12/29/1948 Unknown
18. 01/05/1949 Unknown
19. 01/12/1949 Unknown
20. 01/19/1949 Unknown
21. 01/26/1949 Unknown
22. 02/02/1949 Unknown
23. 02/09/1949 Unknown
24. 02/16/1949 Unknown
25. 02/23/1949 Unknown
*Moves to Sundays at 10:10PM*
Ep. # Airdate Guests
26. 02/27/1949 Bates 1949 College Board
27. 03/06/1949 Unknown
28. 03/13/1949 Unknown
29. 03/20/1949 Unknown
30. 03/27/1949 Unknown
31. 04/03/1949 Unknown
32. 04/10/1949 Unknown
33. 04/17/1949 Unknown
34. 04/24/1949 Unknown
35. 05/01/1949 Unknown
36. 05/08/1949 Unknown
37. 05/15/1949 Unknown
38. 05/22/1949 Unknown
39. 05/29/1949 Unknown
40. 06/05/1949 Unknown
41. 06/12/1949 Unknown
42. 06/19/1949 Unknown
43. 06/26/1949 Unknown

No episodes of the series are known to exist. It aired live on NBC’s Eastern network. At least as early as January 1949, kinescopes were being shipped to Chicago to be aired over NBC’s Midwest network on a delayed basis.

You can read more about Girl About Town in my article Kyle MacDonnell: TV’s Forgotten Star.