Nielsen Bottom 10, January 11th-17th, 1988

Week 17 of the 1987-1988 season started on Monday, January 11th, 1988 and ended on Sunday, January 17th, 1988. The highest-rated program was the AFC Championship on NBC with a 32.0/50 Nielsen rating/share. AGB Television Research did not provide a viewership figure for the game.

Here are the 10 lowest-rated programs on TV during Week 17 of the 1987-1988 season:

## Program Network Rating Viewers
64 Disney Movie ABC 11.0/16 16,800,000
65 Sledge Hammer! ABC 9.4/15 14,400,000
66 Houston Knights CBS 9.2/15 17,900,000
67 The Law and Harry McGraw CBS 8.9/13 12,500,000
68 Rags to Riches NBC 8.6/15 14,100,000
69 West 57th CBS 8.4/15 13,000,000
70 Ohara ABC 8.3/14 10,100,000
71 Steve Martin (special) (repeat) CBS 8.2/12 12,000,000
72 Diamonds Are Forever (repeat) [movie] ABC 7.8/12 9,900,000
73 The Charmings ABC 6.1/9 9,400,000

Copyright A.C. Nielsen Co. and AGB Television Research

Note: USA Today did not begin including FOX programming in its weekly rating charts until December 1988.

There were only a handful of repeats on the networks this week, a few of which landed in the Bottom 10. ABC placed five shows at the bottom of this week’s chart. CBS had four and NBC just one.

The lowest-rated CBS program for the week aired on Tuesday, January 12th from 8-9PM. The network aired a repeat of comedy special “Steve Martin: Comedy Is Not Pretty,” which originally aired on NBC in February 1980. It ranked 71st for the week out of 73 programs.

The two programs that fared worse than Steve Martin both aired on ABC on Thursday, January 14th. The Charmings ranked 73rd from 8-9PM while a repeat of the James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever from 9-11PM ranked 72nd.

NBC’s sole entry in the Bottom 10 was Rags to Riches, which ran from 8-9PM on Friday, January 15th and ranked 68th for the week. The premiere of new ABC sitcom The Thorns at 9PM tied for 55th, performing worse than Full House (tied for 45th) and Mr. Belvedere (41st), but better than Sledge Hammer at 9:30PM (65th).

ABC shifted Dolly from Sundays to Saturdays beginning January 16th. It replaced Ohara at 8PM; that series returned to 9PM in place of Sable. Dolly tied for 62nd for the week, just missing the Bottom 10, and down significantly from its Sunday, January 10th broadcast which tied for 39th. Ohara, in its new 9-10PM time slot, ranked 70th for the week. Recently introduced CBS drama High Mountain Rangers at 8PM tied for 60th for the week, edging out Dolly but seeing its lowest rating in the three weeks it had been on the air.

On Sunday, January 17th, The Disney Sunday Movie (EarthStar Voyager, Part 1) on ABC had to face both 60 Minutes on CBS and AFC Championship overrun on NBC. It ranked 64th for the week. The ABC Sunday Night Movie (Stranger On My Land) performed only slightly better, tying for 60th. By comparison, NBC’s Sunday movie (Crash Course) ranked 12th while the CBS Sunday movie (Alone in the Neon Jungle) ranked 23rd.

Also of note: Frank’s Place (CBS, Monday, January 1th) ranked 54th for the week; Crime Story (NBC, Tuesday, January 12th) tied for 49th; A Year in the Life (NBC, Wednesday, January 13th) tied for 55th; Tour of Duty (CBS, Thursday, January 14th) tied for 58th; Full House (ABC, Friday, January 15th) tied for 45th; and J.J. Starbuck (NBC, Saturday, January 16th) ranked 48th.

“Using this chart.” USA Today. 20 Jan. 1988: 03.d

25th Anniversary of Morton & Hayes

Today marks the 25th anniversary of Morton & Hayes, an unusual and short-lived sitcom that ran on CBS for six episodes during the summer of 1991. Rob Reiner and Phil Mishkin created the series. Kevin Pollack and Bob Amaral starred as Chick Morton and Eddie Hayes. Morton and Hayes were slapstick comedians whose “forgotten” films from the 1930s and 1940s were rediscovered, restored, and presented for the enjoyment of TV viewers.

25th Anniversary of Morton & Hayes: Title Card from Society Saps

Morton & Hayes Title Card from “Society Saps”

Morton & Hayes premiered on Wednesday, July 24th, 1991. Each episode opened and closed with segments featuring Reiner. He provided history about the fictional films and the equally fictional actors who appeared in them. Reiner’s segments were in color but the films themselves aired in black-and-white.

Plots were simple. For example, in “Daffy Dicks,” Morton and Hayes are private detectives hired by a wealthy woman who believes her husband is cheating on her. In “The Bride of Mummula,” the two travel to Bavaria and face off against the monstrous Mummula. In “Oafs Overboard,” they wind up on an island ruled by a beautiful princess who wants to sacrifice them to the giant Ooloo.

Kevin Pollack as Chick Morton

Kevin Pollack as Chick Morton

Guest stars included Michael McKean, Courtney Cox, Catherine O’Hara, Christopher Guest, Allison Janney, and Penelope Ann Miller. McKean and Guest were also involved behind the camera; Guest directed five of the six episodes and co-wrote two while McKean directed one and co-wrote another.

As I explain my article about Morton & Hayes, the series received mix reviews from critics. It was universally dismissed by viewers, however, drawing very low ratings throughout its brief run. Maybe it was because of the concept. Maybe because nobody wanted to watch black-and-white TV.

Do you remember watching Morton & Hayes back in 1991? If so, did you enjoy it? Hit the comments with your memories of the series.

TV Guide Ad: 1967 Tournament of Roses on ABC

Here’s an ABC TV Guide ad from January 1967 promoting the network’s live coverage of the 1967 Tournament of Roses, hosted by actress Elizabeth Montgomery:

Scanned black and white TV Guide ad for the 1967 Tournament of Roses on ABC
TV Guide Ad for the 1967 Tournament of Roses on ABC – Copyright 1969 Triangle Publications, Inc.

It may not be a short-lived TV show but I had to branch out a little to find enough advertisements to fill 13 weeks. ABC’s live coverage of the 1967 Tournament of Roses was hosted by Elizabeth Montgomery. It aired from 11:30AM to approximately 1:45PM on Monday, January 2nd, 1967.

This particular ad is from the Central Pennsylvania Edition of TV Guide. Channel 16 was WNEP-TV in Wilkes-Barres-Scranton, PA and Channel 27 was WTPA in Harrisburg, PA.

Image Credit:
TV Guide, December 31st, 1966 (Vol. 14, No. 53), Central Pennsylvania Edition, Page A-21.

W2XAB Signed On 85 Years Ago Today

Early experimental TV station W2XAB signed on 85 years ago today. It was not the first TV station in the United States. It was not even the first TV station in New York City. In fact, it was the sixth. However, it marked the entry of the Columbia Broadcasting System into television.

W2XAB signed on at 10:45PM ET with 45-minute inaugural program. The TV station only carried the visual portion of the broadcast. Audio went out over radio station WABC, which transmitted it nationwide. Could audio of this historical inaugural broadcast survive?

Mayor Jimmy Walker was on hand to help officially open the new station. Also participating were WABC technical director Edwin K. Cohan, WABC announcer Edward B. Husing, CBS “television girl” Natalie Towers, German engineer Dr. Walter Schaffer, composer George Gershwin, and singer Kate Smith.

There were some technical issues with W2XAB’s inaugural broadcast, according to The New York Times:

Static is a bad thing for television. It freckles and blotches a countenance. It may rip asunder and mangle a face beyond recognition. And it doesn’t matter to static whose face it attacks. Even the Mayor may be freckled, but the other night at W2XAB Mr. Walker for some reason was given a mustache somewhere between the electric eye and the receiving set. Those who saw Lombardo, an orchestra director, on the television observed that he had a long beard. When asked for an explanation of those ethereal tricks one of the engineers said that “it is just one of those freak things we must learn how to overcome.”

The day after the station signed on, W2XAB introduced a daily schedule with broadcasts from 2-6PM and 8-11PM. The station was renamed WCBW in July 1941 and transitioned to commercial status. Finally, it became WCBS-TV in November 1946 and is still on the air under that name.

“Mayor on Television Picks Up Mustache Somewhere in Space.” New York Times. 26 Jul. 1931: 8XX
“Television Studio Opened by Walker.” New York Times. 22 Jul. 1931: 23.
“Walker Will Open Television Station.” New York Times. 15 Jul. 1931: 21.

Nielsen Bottom 10, January 4th-10th, 1988

Week 16 of the 1987-1988 season started on Monday, January 4th, 1988 and ended on Sunday, January 10th, 1988. The highest-rated program was 60 Minutes on CBS with a 32.8/47 Nielsen rating/share and 49.5 million viewers according to AGB Television Research.

Here are the 10 lowest-rated programs on TV during Week 16 of the 1987-1988 season:

## Program Network Rating Viewers
62 Wiseguy CBS 11.1/18 16,600,000
  Crime Story NBC 11.1/19 17,800,000
64 Charlie Brown (repeat) CBS 10.8/15 13,600,000
65 Hotel ABC 10.6/18 13,800,000
66 Private Eye NBC 10.3/18 15,700,000
67 The Oldest Rookie CBS 9.9/15 12,800,000
68 Cathy (repeat) CBS 9.0/13 12,700,000
69 Rags to Riches NBC 8.6/14 16,700,000
70 Sledge Hammer! ABC 8.5/12 12,400,000
71 The Charmings (repeat) ABC 8.2/12 11,900,000
72 The Sting II [movie] ABC 6.9/11 9,900,000

Copyright A.C. Nielsen Co. and AGB Television Research

Note: USA Today did not begin including FOX programming in its weekly rating charts until December 1988.

With Christmas and New Years over, it was back to normal for the networks. There were few repeats this week, with new episodes of most shows returning after a few weeks holiday repeats and pre-emptions. There are again 11 programs in the table this week because of a tie. ABC and CBS each placed four shows in the Bottom 11 while NBC had three.

Wiseguy returned to CBS on Monday, January 4th with its first new episode since November 19th, 1987. It did not do well, tying for 62nd for the week. The network filled the 8-9PM time slot on Tuesday, January 5th with a pair of animated repeats (“Happy New Year, Charlie Brown” and “Cathy”) in place of relocated Houston Knights. Both were in the Bottom 11. At 10PM, NBC’s Crime Story also landed in the Bottom 11.

The penultimate episode of The Oldest Rookie ranked 67th for the week, by far the weakest part of the CBS lineup on Wednesday, January 6th.

ABC saw its Thursday, January 7th lineup get absolutely hammered by new episodes of NBC’s sitcoms. Sledge Hammer! ranked 70th for the week, The Charmings ranked 71st, and its broadcast of the movie The Sting II ranked 72nd. [Although USA Today marked it as a repeat, The Charmings was new on January 7th.]

It was NBC’s turn to populate the Bottom 11 on Friday, January 8th. The second-to-last episode of Rags to Riches at 8PM ranked 69th for the week. A repeat of Miami Vice did marginally better at 9PM, tying for 60th. The last episode of short-lived Private Eye sank back to 66th at 10PM, however.

Also on Friday was the series finale of ABC’s I Married Dora at 8:30PM. The episode famously ended by breaking the fourth wall. It was the highest-rated episode since the series premiere but still ranked 51st for the week.

ABC pre-empted its 8-10PM programs on Saturday, January 9th in order to air two hours of figure skating. The special tied for 60th. A new episode of Hotel at 10PM did even worse, ranking 65th.

Also of note: The Ann Jillian Story (NBC, Monday, January 4th) tied for 6th for the week; Jake and the Fatman (CBS, Tuesday, January 5th) ranked 52nd; The Slap Maxwell Story (ABC, Wednesday, January 6th) ranked 56th; Tour of Duty (CBS, Thursday, January 7th) ranked 54th; Full House (ABC, Friday, January 8th) ranked 53rd; and Buck James (ABC, Sunday, January 10th) ranked 55th.

“Using this chart.” USA Today. 13 Jan. 1988: 03.d

TV Guide Ad: NBC’s Monday Lineup, Fall 1969

Here’s an NBC TV Guide ad from September 1969 promoting the network’s Monday lineup consisting of My World and Welcome to It, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, and NBC Monday Night at the Movies:

Scanned black and white TV Guide ad for NBC's Monday Lineup, Fall 1969
TV Guide Ad for NBC’s Monday Lineup, Fall 1969 – Copyright 1969 Triangle Publications, Inc.

This may look like a full-page advertisement but you’re actually looking at a pair of half-page ads that ran on two pages. I stuck them together so they’d fit better online.

NBC debuted its new Monday lineup on September 15th, 1969. Kicking things off at 7:30PM was the series premiere of My World and Welcome to It, a new sitcom based on the work of James Thurber that starred William Windom. It was followed at 8PM by the third season premiere of Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. Then at 9PM came the season premiere of NBC Monday Night at the Movies with Nobody’s Perfect, a 1968 comedy.

My World and Welcome To It was cancelled at the end of the 1969-1970 season, making it a one season wonder.

This particular ad is from the Eastern New England Edition of TV Guide. Channel 4 was WBZ-TV in Boston, MA and Channel 10 was WJAR-TV in Providence, RI.

Image Credit:
TV Guide, September 13th, 1969 (Vol. 17, No. 37), Eastern New England Edition, A-42 & A-43.

Bookshelf: Time Tunnel Adventure #2 – Timeslip!

Bookshelf is a monthly column examining printed matter relating to television. While I love watching TV, I also love reading about it, from tie-in novels to TV Guides, from vintage television magazines to old newspaper articles. Bookshelf is published on the second Thursday of each month.

Time Tunnel Adventure #2 – Timeslip!
By Murray Leinster
First Published July 1967
Published by Pyramid Books
140 pages

It’s been over a year since I reviewed Murray Leinster’s first tie-in novel based on Irwin Allen’s The Time Tunnel and I still haven’t had a chance to sit down and watch any episodes. Nevertheless, today I’m reviewing the second and final tie-in novel, which was also written by Leinster. It features a somewhat awkward title: Time Tunnel Adventure #2 – Timeslip! It was published in July 1967 by Pyramid Books, several months after the final first-run episode of the series aired on ABC (on April 7th, 1967 to be exact).

Each episode of the TV show saw scientists Tony Newman (played by James Darren) and Doug Phillips (played by Robert Colbert) transported via the Time Tunnel to a new time period where they usually got caught up in some historical event or fought aliens. The two were lost in time, unable to be brought back to the present. Keeping a watchful eye on the pair were General Kirk (played by Whit Bissell), Dr. Ann MacGregor (played by Lee Meriwether), and Dr. Raymond Swain (played by John Zaremba).

Tony, Doug, General Kirk, and Dr. MacGregor were both featured in the first tie-in novel. Dr. Swain is nowhere to be found. Also, Dr. MacGregor is referred to as “The MacGregor,” for reasons that are never explained. At the end of the first novel, Tony and Doug were successfully returned to the present and were not stranded in time.

Scan of the front cover to Timeslip!
Front Cover to Timeslip! – Copyright 1967 Kent Productions, Inc., and Twentieth Century-Fox Television, Inc.

In Timeslip!, Project Tic-Toc is tasked by visiting General Osborne to send a top secret intercontinental ballistic “Wotan” missile through time and space to a MacMurdo Sound in Antarctica–in 1847. The government wants proof that the Time Tunnel can be used for military purposes. Should the test succeed, the civilians who devised and built the Time Tunnel will be dismissed and Project Tic-Toc will belong to the military.

The novel features several new characters, including General Osborne. There’s Tech Sergeant Christopher, who works with or for General Osborne, as well as Sam Creighton, one of the scientists who helped build Project Tic-Toc. General Osborne doesn’t believe in time travel. He thinks the Time Tunnel is all an elaborate hoax and goes to great lengths to try to expose the hoax. Instead, he ends up damaging the Time Tunnel and sending the Wotan missile out of control.

It does end up in 1847, only it lands in a pond in Mexico City rather than Antarctica. That’s bad enough. In the present, construction work threatens to uncover the missile, which contains enough explosive fuel to level most of the area. A plan to retrieve the missile in the past is complicated by the capture of Mexico City by the U.S. Army during the Mexican-American War. Tony and Sam strap on time harnesses and travel to 1847 through the Time Tunnel to test whether the Wotan missile can be pulled from the pond and transported back to the present.

While in the past, Tony and Sam try to save an American soldier. Sadly, he winds up dead. That’s when they realize the dead man is Sam’s great-great-grandfather, a military hero who was supposed to die in Mexico City. The rest of the novel is a race against time on two fronts: Sam must impersonate his great-great-grandfather to ensure history unfolds as it should and the Wotan missile has to be retrieved before a bulldozer accidentally sets it off.

Scan of the back cover to Timeslip!
Back Cover to Timeslip! – Copyright 1967 Kent Productions, Inc., and Twentieth Century-Fox Television, Inc.

I had a hard time following some of the explanations laid out for time travel in the novel. I’m not sure whether that reflects poorly on Leinster’s writing or on my reading comprehension skills. At one point, Doug explains how any time spent in the past is likewise spent in the present: if they go back in time to try to recover the Wotan and spend ten days doing so, they’ll return to the present ten days after they left, and during those ten days the missile will have exploded. They have to delay construction in the present to give themselves time in the past.

There’s a lot of jargon throughout the novel: the aforementioned time harnesses; “Out Yonder” (where the Time Tunnel sends people); the “traveller” (a platform sent through time and space); and “buzzards” (electronic devices in the shape of birds that fly around in the past sending sound and video back to the present). At times, all of this terminology can overwhelm the writing. Leinster also has a tendency to overuse colons when introducing dialogue. Some examples:

Doug Phillips said sourly:

The MacGregor said with asperity:

Tony closed the door behind him and said:

Tony’s hands clenched. The General said:

Tech Sergeant Christopher said diffidently:

Again dead silence. Then Doug, appalled:

I will admit that by the end of the novel, I was no longer noticing all the colons, but it took some getting used to. Leinster also did the same thing in his first novel. Maybe it was just his style. Timeslip! does not feature any footnotes explaining historical events the way his first novel did, however.

Curiously, the back cover doesn’t feature the title but instead declares TIME BOMB in large red letters. That certainly fits the novel better than TIMESLIP.

I’m curious how fans of The Time Tunnel reacted to reading either of Murray Leinster’s tie-in novels. Were they upset that Leinster’s version of the Time Tunnel was so different from what was seen on television? Or did they enjoy the adventures and ignore the inconsistencies? Fans may also have been turned off by the fact that Tony and Doug aren’t a team in Timeslip! Tony stays behind at Project Tic-Toc while Doug and Sam travel into the past.

Nielsen Bottom 10, December 28th, 1987 – January 3rd, 1988

Week 15 of the 1987-1988 season started on Monday, December 28th, 1987 and ended on Sunday, January 3rd, 1988. The highest-rated program was an NFL game on NBC with a 28.3/43 Nielsen rating/share. AGB Television Research did not provide a viewership figure for the game.

Here are the 10 lowest-rated programs on TV during Week 15 of the 1987-1988 season:

## Program Network Rating Viewers
63 China Odyssey (special) CBS 8.5/14 12,400,000
64 Ohara ABC 8.3/14 11,900,000
65 Sledge Hammer! (repeat) ABC 8.0/15 9,100,000
66 Bugs Bunny (repeat) (special) CBS 7.8/15 15,600,000
  Houston Knights (repeat) CBS 7.8/12 12,900,000
68 The Electric Horseman (repeat) ABC 7.4/16 12,600,000
69 ABC News Special (special) ABC 6.9/11 9,600,000
70 Sable ABC 6.7/11 12,600,000
71 Betty Boop (special) (repeat) CBS 6.5/13 13,600,000
72 Barnum (repeat) CBS 6.0/13 11,300,000

Copyright A.C. Nielsen Co. and AGB Television Research

Note: USA Today did not begin including FOX programming in its weekly rating charts until December 1988.

ABC and CBS both placed five programs in the Bottom 10 this week, most of which were repeats. ABC did air new episodes of Ohara and Sable, plus an ABC News Special. The only original CBS program at the bottom f the chart this week was an hour-long documentary titled “The China Odyssey: Empire of the Sun.”

ABC pre-empted MacGuyver at 8PM on Monday, December 28th for an ABC News Special titled “The Other Olympic Game,” which did not fare well in the ratings. It ranked 69th for the week. A repeat of Houston Knights on Tuesday, December 29th actually did better than a new episode the week before. A new episode of Houston Knights aired on Saturday, January 2nd, 1988 and ranked 58th.

CBS aired “The China Odyssey: Empire of the Sun” on Wednesday, December 30th. Martin Sheen narrated the special, which gave viewers on a behind-the-scenes look at Steven Spielberg’s upcoming movie Empire of the Sun. It ranked 63rd for the week.

Thursday, December 31st was a bad week for any network not named NBC. CBS aired repeats of two half-hour animated specials from 8-9PM (“Bugs Bunny’s Mad World of Television” and “Romance of Betty Boop”) and both were in the Bottom 10. From 9-11PM, CBS aired a repeat of the 1986 made-for-TV movie Barnum starring Burt Lancaster. It was the lowest-rated program on the air.

As for ABC, it’s Thursday line-up kicked off with Sledge Hammer! at 8PM. It tied for 66th and was followed at 8:30PM by the 1979 film The Electric Horseman. The movie ranked 68th for the week.

Also of note: “The Kennedy Center Honors” (CBS, Wednesday, December 30th) tied for 59th for the week; “Scared Sexless” (NBC, Wednesday, December 30th) tied for 16th; “King Orange Parade” (NBC, Thursday, December 31st) tied for 51st; a repeat of I Married Dora (ABC, Friday, January 1st) tied for 45th; and Dolly (ABC, Sunday, January 3rd) tied for 51st.

“Using this chart.” USA Today. 6 Jan. 1988: 03.d