The Future of Television Obscurities

As my six month project to revise all of the articles here at Television Obscurities winds down (only five left to go) I’ve been giving some thought to the future. Starting next month I plan on returning to a limited weekly schedule. More on that tomorrow. In terms of articles, show spotlights and exhibits, I have a lot of ideas. A lot more ideas than I have time for, unfortunately, but we’ll see how it goes.

For starters, I’d like to finally write an article about Kyle McDonnell, television’s forgot star, who in the late 1940s was one of the most famous faces on the small screen. I’ve been collecting articles and photographs about her for several years now and I think I finally have enough to get started writing the article. Sadly, very little of her television work still exists.

Another topic I’ve considered writing an article about is the so-called “wheel format.” Unlike the traditional weekly television series, a wheel format show featured three or more separate shows would rotate in one time slot under an umbrella title. Examples include Warner Bros. Presents, The Bold Ones and The NBC Mystery Movie. I don’t know whether The Name of the Game should properly be classified as a wheel format show because while it had three rotating stars it didn’t use separate titles. And Four in One took a slightly different approach by airing six episodes of four different shows in blocks. One show was on the air for six weeks, then the next, etc.

(Then there’s the umbrella format in which multiple shows or segments aired as part of one weekly show under one title. The only two examples I can think off of the top of my head are 90 Bristol Court and Cliffhangers. There may be some terminology issues to work out. Weekly series/biweekly series/anthology series/wheel format/umbrella format. That’s a discussion for another day.)

As for exhibits, I’ve been working off and on for the past few months on one that will present network promotional voiceovers from the closing credits of shows from the late 1960s through the mid-1980s. It will be audio only but I think it will still be very interesting. I also plan to eventually have an exhibit covering my collection of TV tie-in novels, but that’s on the back burner.

Finally, I have a list of titles that I plan to write show spotlights on, including All Star Golf, Struck by Lightning and NBC’s “The World of…” specials from 1961-1963. The “show spotlight” concept has outgrown its title. It already includes two unsold pilots. I halfheartedly renamed it “Spotlight On” but never made a complete switch.

There’s actually an unsold television “concept” I’d like to spotlight. It was for a show to be called The Quest. CBS purchased it in 1964 from Herbert Brodkin and Plautus Productions (responsible for Coronet Blue) for use during the 1965-1966 season. As far as I can tell it never made it to the pilot stage but it sounds like it would have been a very interesting show. Apparently, scripts were going to be spread across as many episodes as needed and, potentially, the hour-long series would run longer if called for by a particular script, pre-empting other CBS programming.

So that’s what’s on the drawing board for the next six months. Anything sound interesting?


  • Joseph Harder says:

    I have only one word for you: Channing. The More I learn about this show, the more baffled I am…
    1. What did the critics really think about it? 2. Where and when was it re-run as The Young And The Bold? 3. Why aren’t more episodes”Freedom is A Lovesome Thing, Say Farewell to Our Fair-Haired Boy, The Testament Of Buddy Crown, and A Bang and A Whimper, recognized as near -masterpieces?4. Why did it flop so badly? 5. What was going onin Laird and Rafelson’s minds when they actually thought viewers would understand references to Immanuel Kant, utilitarianism, British constitutional development, and Sholem Aleichem?

  • DuMont says:

    Although not quite a “wheel” format concept, I’ve been intrigued by the network strategy in the sixties and seventies of stitching together similarly themed pilots (i.e. three sitcoms, two dramas) into movie specials as opposed to standalone broadcasts. Sometimes done to batch together pilots from the same supplier, there were also more than a few occasions when they were strung together based on themes.

  • DuMont says:

    Not sure if it counts as a wheel, but NBC’s ‘Best Sellers’ was a miniseries wheel that featured four or five miniseries of varying lengths over the course of a season, and I do remember Mr. Paul Klein talking about a plan that some of them might have continued on with “second seasons” (a la ‘Rich Man Poor Man Book 2’) had ratings been high enough.

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