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

The final week of the 1987-1988 season started on Monday, April 11th, 1988 and ended on Sunday, April 17th, 1988. The highest-rated program was the 60th Academy Awards on ABC with a 29.4/49 Nielsen rating/share and 38.9 million viewers according to AGB Television Research.

Here are the 10 lowest-rated programs on TV during Week 30 of the 1987-1988 season:

## Program Network Rating Viewers
62 Our House NBC 8.6/16 12,800,000
  Tour of Duty (repeat) CBS 8.6/16 13,400,000
64 Buck James ABC 8.3/14 8,800,000
65 West 57th CBS 8.1/16 14,200,000
66 Hotel (repeat) ABC 8.0/13 9,600,000
  Ohara (repeat) ABC 8.0/15 9,500,000
68 Disney Sunday Movie (repeat) ABC 7.2/14 11,800,000
69 Kenny Rogers Special (repeat) CBS 6.2/10 8,000,000
70 The Presidents (special) ABC 6.1/12 8,100,000
71 My Sister Sam CBS 5.4/9 6,700,000
72 LaRouche Campaign (special) CBS 3.4/6 4,800,000

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.

The 1987-1988 television season officially ended this week after 30 weeks. It’s from the above chart that the networks weren’t trying very hard by the time the season wrapped up. Due to a tie for 62nd, there are 11 programs listed above.

Five of the programs in the Bottom 11 were repeats. There were also three specials, one of which was a repeat.

CBS placed five programs in the Bottom 11. The network had the lowest-rated program this week: a half-hour paid political announcement for Lyndon LaRouche aired Tuesday, April 12th from 8-8:30PM. It drew an anemic 3.4 Nielsen rating but that wasn’t very far below what Trial and Error averaged in the time slot two weeks earlier. My Sister Sam followed at 8PM with a 5.4 rating and ranked just above the LaRouche program.

CBS aired a repeat of “Kenny Rogers: Working America” from 10-11PM on Monday, April 11th opposite the 60th Academy Awards. It’s likely the network had already paid for the rebroadcast and decided to air it rather than original programming against the Oscars.

Three of the five ABC programs in the Bottom 11 were repeats. Buck James was new. So was “Conversations with the Presidents” on Saturday, April 16th. The hour-long special featured President Reagan as well as Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford answering questions from kids.

Also of note: European Vacation (CBS, Monday, April 11th) ranked 51st week; The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (CBS, Wednesday, April 13th) tied for 52nd; A Year in the Life (NBC, Wednesday, April 13) tied for 43rd; Probe (ABC, Thursday, April 14th) tied for 60th; Family Man (ABC, Friday, April 15th) tied for 56th; The Storyteller (NBC, Saturday, April 16th) tied for 41st; and “The Attic: The Hiding of Anne Frank” (CBS, Sunday, April 17th) tied for 41st.

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

We’ve come to the end of my look at the lowest-rated programs on the air during the 1987-1988 season. I may try something like this again in the future but not anytime soon. It was more time consuming than I anticipated.

NBC Saturday Morning Advertisement from 1973

It’s been over six years since I’ve come across a comic book advertisement for a network’s Saturday morning lineup. A few days ago I stumbled upon a two-page ad for NBC’s 1972-1973 Saturday morning lineup in Shanna, the She-Devil #2 from Marvel Comics.

The cover date is February 1973 but the issue was likely on newsstands two or three months earlier. So it may have been in the hands of younger viewers in November or December 1972. That’s still several months after NBC unveiled its new 1972-1973 Saturday morning lineup on September 9th, 1972.

The lineup ran from 8AM to 1PM ET and included 10 half-hour shows. Six were new while a seventh was a reformatted version of a returning show. I had to scan the advertisement as two separate pages. Click on the images for larger versions.

Scan of a comic book advertisement for NBC's Fall 1972 Saturday Morning Lineup
Advertisement for NBC’s Fall 1972 Saturday Morning Lineup – Page 1
Copyright © 1972 Magazine Management Co., Inc.
Scan of a comic book advertisement for NBC's Fall 1972 Saturday Morning Lineup
Advertisement for NBC’s Fall 1972 Saturday Morning Lineup – Page 2
Copyright © 1972 Magazine Management Co., Inc.

Here’s a look at the full schedule:

  8:00AM – The Underdog Show
  8:30AM – The Jetsons
  9:00AM – The Pink Panther Show
  9:30AM – The Houndcats (New)
10:00AM – The Roman Holidays (New)
10:30AM – The Barkleys (New)
11:00AM – Sealab 2020 (New)
11:30AM – Runaround (New)
12:00PM – Around the World in 80 Days (New)
12:30PM – Talking with a Giant (New Format)

Talking With a Giant was a revised version of Take a Giant Step, which ran during the 1971-1972 season. Most of the new shows lasted just 13 episodes before NBC began airing repeats.

Perhaps someone who remembers watching NBC on Saturdays during the 1972-1973 season will recall if the network referred to its lineup as “The Terrific Ten” in promotional spots or bumpers. What about Adam and Evy? Did they make it on air or were they only featured in print advertisements?

TV Guide Close-Up: ABC Scope (Mars Closeup)

Here’s a TV Guide Close-Up from July 1965 promoting ABC Scope on ABC:

Scanned black and white TV Guide Close-Up for ABC Scope
TV Guide Close-Up for ABC Scope – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.

NASA launched the Mariner 4 spacecraft on November 28th, 1964. It didn’t reach Mars until mid-July 1965. ABC Scope aired a special Mars-themed episode on Wednesday, July 14th, 1965 titled “Mars Closeup: Are We Alone?” The first pictures taken by Mariner 4 weren’t received until the following day.

This particular Close-Up is from the Western New England Edition of TV Guide. Channel 20 was WATR-TV in Waterbury, CT; Channel 40 was WHYN-TV in Springfield, MA.

Image Credit:
TV Guide, July 10th, 1965 (Vol. 1, No. 28), Western New England Edition, A-50.

Tales of Lost TV: Folksay

I’m introducing a new column this month called Tales of Lost TV. Each month I’ll examine a particular TV program either known or believed to be lost forever. The amount of lost TV is truly staggering–aside from a handful of exceptions everything broadcast prior to 1948 no longer exists. That doesn’t mean it all has to be forgotten, though.

My plan is to publish a new column every month. Considering just how much lost TV there is, perhaps I’ll eventually start writing two columns each month. But I have to see how popular they are with readers before I make that decision.

The topic for this inaugural column is a half-hour program called “Folksay,” which aired on WCBW in New York City in 1944. Actually, it aired twice. It was so well-received the station decided to rebroadcast it again in 1945. No audio or visual recordings exist of either broadcast, so it’s doubly lost. Nevertheless, remarkable amount of material survives for “Folksay,” including the complete script and more than a dozen behind-the-scenes photographs.

(I’m italicizing Folksay when referring to the ballet but using quotation marks when referring to either of the WCBW broadcasts.)

A Modern Dance Ballet

Choreographer Sophie Maslow developed Folksay as an elaborate mix of modern dance and ballet. It combined folk songs by Woody Guthrie with text from Carl Sandberg’s 1936 book-length poem The People, Yes. The premiere took place in March 1942 at the Humphrey-Weidman Studio Theatre in New York City. Guthrie provided live music for the performance, which featured Maslow and her New Dance Group.

Two-and-a-half years later, Maslow brought Folksay to TV under the direction of Leo Hurwitz. The same group performed the ballet live in front of CBS TV cameras. The 30-minute broadcast aired on WCBW, the CBS station in New York City, from 8:15-8:45PM ET on November 24th, 1944. Featured were Maslow and the New Dance Group, which included among others Jane Dudley, Pearl Pelmus, and William Bales. Woody Guthrie and fellow folksinger Tony Kraber played guitar, sang songs, and read text from The People, Yes.

An Ecstatic Review of “Folksay”

Wanda Marvin praised the telecast in the December 2nd issue of The Billboard. “Tele cut its eyeteeth tonight on a half hour of splendid entertainment called Folksay,” she declared. “Critics who thought the infant too delicate to survive will cease their head-shaking and plan to deal with a lusty adolescent.”

The review claimed every aspect of the broadcast was perfect, from the realistic painted backdrop and camerawork to the choreography and use of silence. “Guthrie’s drawl, as natural and friendly as sunshine,” wrote Marvin, “became a song as it told of the American way of life.” She continued:

Every dancer turned in a letter-perfect performance. Choregraphy [sic] was magnificent, blending perfectly with the spirit of the Sandburg verse. Over-all production was by far the best this reviewer has ever seen on a tele screen. Lighting and camera work was on an especially high order. The complete absence of shadow, the clarity of every pic, the camera’s agility in catching every movement and holding and then relinquishing the action in split-second rightness added up to terrific tele.

The other programs broadcast by WCBW that night “limped in comparison,” said Marvin.

TV’s First Repeat?

The Billboard reported on December 9th that WCBW planned to repeat “Folksay” on Friday, December 22nd due to “enthusiastic audience reaction.” The second performance would feature the same cast, with Leo Hurwitz returning as director. TV listings in The New York Times don’t show “Folksay” airing on December 22nd. However, it does show up in the listings for Friday, January 12th, 1945. It again aired from 8:15-8:45PM.

Does that mean “Folksay” is the first repeat in TV history? I don’t know. Maybe.

At least 16 behind-the-scenes photographs from the January 1945 rebroadcast exist and can be found at the Getty Images website. Unfortunately, they can’t be embedded and I can’t afford to license any. I’ve collected them here using the Getty Images Boards feature.

Two of these photographs appeared in the June 1945 issue of Tune In magazine. Doug Allan included another in his 1946 book How to Write from Television.

Excerpts from the Script

Doug Allan also included a shooting script for “Folksay” in How to Write for Television. It’s not dated but presumably both broadcasts used the same script. It is broken into 12 sections, several of which are further broken down (Section 7, Section 7A, Section 7B, etc.)

Here’s the opening announcement:

CBS presents Folksay, a modern ballet by Sophia Maslow, based on Carl Sandburg’s, The People, Yes, featuring Jane Dudley, William Bales, Pearl Primus and the New Dance Group — with the folksingers–Woody Guthrie and Tony Kraber.

And here’s the closing announcement:

You have just seen “Folksay,” a modern ballet choreographed by Sophie Maslow, with folksongs, folksayings and excerpts from Carl Sandburg’s “The People, Yes.” “Folksay” was performed by Jane Dudley, William Bales, Pearl Primus, and the New Dance Group. Folksingers were Woody Guthrie and Tony Kraber. This program was produced and directed by Leo Hurwitz.

This is CBS, the Columbia Broadcasting System.

The script includes eight songs: “Soul of Man,” “This Land Is Your Land” (called “This Land Is Made For You and Me” in the script), “Dodgers Song,” “On Top of Old Smoky,” “Swing Your Lady,” “Another Man Done Gone,” “Sweet Betsy from Pike,” and “I Ride an Old Paint.”

Surviving Production Material

In addition to the photographs, a significant amount of production material relating to “Folksay” can be found in the Leo Hurwitz Collection at the George Eastman Museum. The collection includes reviews, audience reaction, lyrics, scripts, notes, letters, and more.


Allan, Doug. How to Write for Television. E. P. Dutton & Company, 1946.
“CBS Repeats ‘Folksay’.” Billboard. 9 Dec. 1944: 12.
“Radio Today.” New York Times. 12 Jan. 1945: 21.
Marvin, Wanda. “Reviews: CBS.” Billboard. 2 Dec. 1944: 12-13.

Hit the comments with your thoughts. Both the original November 1944 “Folksay” broadcast and the January 1945 rebroadcast took place prior to the September 1947 introduction of the kinescope process for recording live TV. That means there’s no hope we’ll ever see Woody Guthrie singing “This Land Is Your Land” in front of a realistic painted backdrop.

Peter Loves Mary Coming to getTV in November

One season wonder Peter Loves Mary will join diginet getTV next month. The NBC sitcom ran for 32 episodes during the 1960-1961 season. The sitcom starred Peter Lind Hayes and Mary Healy–who were married in real life–as Peter and Mary Lindsey. The two were nightclub entertainers who move their family from Manhattan to the suburbs. Mary quickly learns to love suburban life but Peter misses the hustle and bustle of the big city.

Bea Benaderet played Wilma, their housekeeper. Merry Martin and Gil Smith played their two children, Leslie and Steve. Guest stars included Jack Albertson, Alan Reed, John Astin, Gina Gillespie, Werner Klemperer, Yvonne Craig, Ken Berry, and Arte Johnson.

Peter Loves Mary makes its getTV debut at 7:35AM ET on Monday, November 7th. The sitcom will air weekdays in that time slot sandwiched between Nanny and the Professor and The Ghost & Mrs. Muir. It replaces Ensign O’Toole.

Here are the opening credits:

When getTV added The Jeff Foxworthy Show and The Bill Engvall Show earlier this month, I admit I was a little discouraged. I thought perhaps getTV was moving away from classic TV. Hopefully, Peter Loves Mary is just the first of many forgotten sitcoms getTV plans on airing.

Do you remember Peter Loves Mary? Are you excited getTV will be airing it? Hit the comments with your thoughts.

How to Marry a Millionaire Coming to DVD

Yesterday, reported that 1950s sitcom How to Marry a Millionaire is coming to DVD from CBS Home Entertainment. A release date has yet to be announced.

Based on the 1953 film of the same name starring Betty Grable, Marilyn Monroe, and Lauren Bacall, How to Marry a Millionaire aired from October 1957 to August 1959. The NTA Film Network originally distributed it with 20th Century Fox producing. The first season consisted of 39 episodes and starred Lori Nelson, Merry Anders, and Barbara Eden. For the shortened 13-episode second season, Lisa Gaye replaced Nelson.

It looks CBS will bundle both seasons together as a “complete series” collection. It’s currently available for pre-order at Amazon for just $29.99. According to the listing, the DVDs will be a manufactured-on-demand.

Color picture featuring DVD artwork for both seasons of How to Marry a Millionaire.

Preliminary cover art for both seasons.
(Courtesy of Home Entertainment)

For those of you not familiar with the series, here are the opening credits and a short scene from an episode:

I think it’s fair to say How to Marry a Millionaire is relatively forgotten, even if it isn’t technically a one season wonder. Many fans of Barbara Eden certainly know about it. It was available for syndication up until the 1980s.

Still, I’m more than a little surprised that it’s coming out on DVD. Obviously, someone at CBS thinks it’s worth releasing. If the $29.99 price seen at Amazon is accurate, it seems really cheap for 52 episodes. I wonder if the set will include the unaired pilot episode as a bonus feature?

Do you remember watching How to Marry a Millionaire? Are you excited the show is coming to DVD? Hit the comments with your thoughts.

8mm Home Movies and Lost TV

It may be hard for anyone born after 2000 to believe but there was a time before cell phones, before anyone and everyone could easily record video. The earliest home movies were made using 16mm film, which Eastman Kodak unveiled in 1923. Originally only black-and-white, color Kodachrome 16mm film was introduced in 1935.

A cheaper alternative came along in 1932 when Kodak starting selling standard (or regular) 8mm film. The new 8mm cameras were smaller and easier to move around. An improved version called Super 8 came along in 1965 while sound was added in 1973.

Between the two formats, it’s possible that someone could have recorded the earliest experimental TV broadcasts in the late 1920s and early 1930s–but probably didn’t.

It may seem like wishful thinking but is it possible someone with a 16mm or 8mm camera may have, intentionally or not, recorded footage of TV shows that are otherwise lost? An amateur kinescope process, if you will. Imagine what could be hidden away in closets, attics, or basements.

Expensive Equipment

Early TV sets were expensive. So were early film cameras and film stock. It therefore makes sense to assume a family wealthy enough to afford a TV set in the 1920s or 1930s may also have purchased a 16mm film camera. At least one family in New York City did. How do we know? Because one of the earliest surviving examples of television in the United States–scenes from an August 1939 broadcast by RCA/NBC’s experimental station WX2BS in New York City–was recorded by someone using a 16mm camera.

The March 1949 issue of Popular Photography included a letter to the editor reporting success making movies of TV broadcasts. It’s not specified whether a 16mm or 8mm camera was used.

Clearly, there were people who pointed their film cameras at their TV sets in the 1930s and 1940s. There’s no way to know how many people did this, how often they did it, or whether their home movies still exist. I’m focusing on 8mm home movies more than 16mm because by the 1950s, 8mm cameras were more widespread.

Doctor Who & I Love Lucy

I can’t think of any TV shows from the United States that only exist as fragmentary 8mm home movies. Doctor Who is a different story. A total of 97 episodes of the long-running BBC series are missing and presumed lost. An Australian fan recorded roughly 15 minutes of Doctor Who in the mid-1960s from a TV set. This footage includes several scenes from missing episodes.

Rare behind-the-scenes footage from various TV shows like I Love Lucy (in color!) and Star Trek exists because someone on set had an 8mm camera running. Some of this footage has been released on DVD or Blu-ray. In the case of Star Trek, background actor Billy Blackburn recorded more than an hour of footage between 1966 and 1969. He also had his camera on the set of My Favorite Martian. You can find 8mm home movies from The Andy Griffith Show, Lost in Space, and Hogan’s Heroeson various DVD sets as well.

Some Examples of 8mm TV Footage

Poke around YouTube long enough and you’ll find a handful of videos of 8mm home movies that include footage taken from TV screens. Here are some I’ve come across:

As you can seen, the quality varies greatly depending on how the TV sets were filmed and how the resulting home movies were digitized.

My Family’s 8mm Home Movies

Last year, I had a collection of 8mm home movies taken by a relative professionally digitized in HD. It was expensive but now my family has this priceless footage preserved. Honestly, I didn’t consider the possibility that I might find footage taken from a TV set.

But that’s just what I found. There’s not much of it. It’s also not much to look at. The first bit of footage is from January 1956. It’s about 10 seconds of a child sitting in front of a TV. Although dark and grainy, the opening credits of The Mickey Mouse Club are clearly playing on the TV set.

The second piece of footage is from around 1970. Whoever was filming pointed the camera directly at the black-and-white TV set. There’s roughly one second of a scene in which three people appear to be having a conversation. The top of the TV set is cut off so their faces aren’t visible:

Black and white image from an 8mm home movie.

Who are these people and what are they discussing? Is this from a TV show? A movie? A commercial?
Copyright © Television Obscurities

This is followed by just under seven seconds of a nuclear explosion. This time, the camera was positioned to capture the entire TV screen:

Black and white image from an 8mm home movie.

Was this nuclear explosion from a TV show?
Copyright © Television Obscurities

So what is this footage? Two scenes from an episode of an unidentified TV show? An actual nuclear explosion broadcast during the news or as part of a documentary? I have no clue. Does anyone recognize it?

What Could Be Out There?

I’ve yet to look through all my family’s 8mm home movies so maybe I’ll find something interesting.

The odds are low that someone used a 16mm or 8mm camera to record the televised opening of the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City. If someone did, and the footage is on a reel of home movies in a box under a bed somewhere, finding it would be a pretty big deal.

Imagine being able to see even a snippet of Faraway Hill (DuMont, 1946) or Hour Glass (NBC, 1946-1947) thanks to a 70-year-old reel of 8mm film? It’s exceedingly unlikely to happen–bordering on impossible–but you never know what might be out there.

Did you or a family member try pointing an 8mm camera at a TV set? Were you successful? If so, what did you record and do you still have the film reels? Hit the comments with your thoughts.

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

Week 29 of the 1987-1988 season started on Monday, April 4th, 1988 and ended on Sunday, April 10th, 1988. The highest-rated program was The Cosby Show on NBC with a 23.2/40 Nielsen rating/share and 30.2 million viewers according to AGB Television Research.

Here are the 10 lowest-rated programs on TV during Week 29 of the 1987-1988 season:

## Program Network Rating Viewers
60 Family Man ABC 9.0/16 12,600,000
  Beverly Hills Buntz NBC 9.0/16 12,700,000
62 High Mountain Rangers CBS 8.9/17 11,700,000
63 Buck James ABC 8.8/15 8,000,000
64 Our House (repeat) NBC 8.5/16 13,300,000
65 West 57th CBS 8.2/16 10,700,000
66 Highwayman NBC 8.0/15 12,300,000
67 Probe ABC 7.3/13 9,300,000
68 Hotel (repeat) ABC 7.1/12 7,600,000
69 Ohara (special) ABC 7.0/13 12,000,000
  Supercarrier ABC 7.0/13 8,900,000

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.

Two programs tied for 60th this week so the above table includes the Bottom 11 rather than the Bottom 10. There were no movies, telefilms, or specials at the bottom of the ratings chart this week.

ABC had six programs in the Bottom 11, including recently introduced spring tryouts Family Man and Probe. The network’s Supercarrier was the lowest-rated program on the air.

Three NBC programs were in the Bottom 11: Beverly Hills Buntz, a repeat of Our House, and Highwayman.

CBS pre-empted its low-rated Tuesday sitcom lineup in favor of the movie Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, so it only had two programs in the Bottom 11, both of which aired on Saturday, April 9th. High Mountain Rangers aired its final episode at 8PM; it ranked 62nd for the week. At 10PM was West 57th, which ranked 65th. In between was Tour of Duty, which perked up slightly at 9PM to rank 56th.

Also of note: Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (CBS, Tuesday, April 5th) tied for 53rd for the week; The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (CBS, Wednesday, April 6th) tied for 50th; A Year in the Life (NBC, Wednesday, April 6th) ranked 38th; 48 Hours (CBS, Thursday, April 7th) ranked 58th; “Mama’s Boy” (NBC, Saturday, April 9th) ranked 46th; Tour of Duty (CBS, Saturday, April 9th) ranked 56th; and “Drugs: A Plague Upon the Land” (ABC, Sunday, April 10th) tied for 50th.

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