Today marks the 40th anniversary of ABC’s Swiss Family Robinson, which premiered on Sunday, September 14th, 1975 in the family-friendly 7-8PM time slot. It was Irwin Allen’s penultimate TV series and ran for just 20 episodes before succumbing to low ratings brought on in part by CBS deciding to move 60 Minutes to the 7-8PM hour.
It’s a bittersweet anniversary due to recent passing of star Martin Milner, who of course is much better known for his roles on Route 66 and Adam-12. You can read my recently revised article about Swiss Family Robinson here.
Unlike most of the obscure TV shows I’ve written articles about, I can’t remember why I decided to write about Swiss Family Robinson. Nor can I recall exactly why I was under the impression that its full title was Irwin Allen’s Swiss Family Robinson. It was referred to as “Irwin Allen’s Production of Swiss Family Robinson” and that’s how the opening credits go.
To differentiate it from other TV versions I’m going to continue to refer to it as Irwin Allen’s Swiss Family Robinson.
When I wrote the article back in 2007, there was some confusion about how many episodes were aired. TV Guide listings indicate that the second episode aired on Sunday, September 21st while the episode list included in Television Drama Programming: A Comprehensive Chronicle: 1975-1980 by Larry James Gianakos states that the next episode would not air until September 28th, 1975. According to Gianakos, there were 19 episodes while TV Guide had listings for 20 episodes.
I’ve finally confirmed that there were indeed 20 episodes by checking TV listings in several newspapers. Not only was Gianakos wrong about the episode count and airdates, he also mixed up several episode titles.
I’ve also dug up some information on how the series performed in the ratings (decently at first, it turns out) as well as some additional critical reviews (one critic called it “a disgrace to television”).
While revising the article I discovered that it aired on FX in the mid-1990s. Does anyone remember watching it? I don’t know if my family had FX in 1994-1996 when I believe Swiss Family Robinson was shown on weekends. I used to watch a lot of FX but don’t recall seeing it.