Q & A: All That Glitters; The Rebels

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.

This show was about the roles of man and woman being switched. It was around 1977 and on at night, like after 10:00. I can clearly remember the theme song. I can remember there was one well known 70’s and 80’s actress who was one of the main characters, but I can’t remember any others.

All That Glitters was an ill-fated late-night syndicated series from Norman Lear, similiar to his more successful Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. It was a parody of soap operas and, as Letty recalls, was set in a universe in which gender roles were reversed. Women worked and sexually harassed men while men stayed home and kept house.

The large cast included Eileen Brennan, Lois Nettleton, Linda Gray, Barbara Baxley, Jessica Walter, Vanessa Brown, Chuck McCann, David Haskell, Gary Sandy, Louise Shaffer, and former Major League Baseball player Wes Parker. Gray’s character was one of–if not the very first–regular transgender characters on U.S. television.

All That Glitters was controversial prior to its premiere in April 1977. It aired five nights a week. Critical reception was poor and ratings weren’t great. The series lasted 13 weeks (or 65 episodes) before being cancelled. The theme song, which can be found here, referred to God as a woman.

I was just curious if you were aware of this obscure TV series from NBC in 1976, The Rebels.

Aside from its Wikipedia page, its TV.com page, Internet Movie Database entry, there is remarkably little information about this series available anywhere. But it did exist. It is real. The Rebels supposedly ran on NBC for 13 weeks, premiering in April 1976, and each episode featured an interview with a historical figure like Thomas Jefferson or Abigail Adams. Keith Berwick served as host.

There is a short clip from one episode available on YouTube in which Ron Thompson portrayed Henry David Thoreau:

The only references the series come from TV listings in one or two California newspapers from 1976. I can’t find any mention of it anywhere else. That suggests to me that it wasn’t an NBC series at all but perhaps a local series aired by an NBC affiliate in California. It’s possible it was part of NBC’s bicentennial programming during 1976 but was only aired in select markets, either due to local pre-emptions or for other reasons. Or it may have had nothing to with NBC at all. It could have been a PBS series, a local public TV series, a syndicated series.

The Rebels shouldn’t be confused with ABC’s The Young Rebels, which ran for 15 episodes during the 1970-1971 season. Coincidentally, that series co-starred Louis Gossett, Jr. who apparently appeared in an episode of The Rebels.

If anyone has information about The Rebels, please hit the comments.

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7 Replies to “Q & A: All That Glitters; The Rebels”

  1. ‘All That Glitters’ was a remarkable series from Mr. Norman Lear, and it is disappointing that it has never been repeated or released to DVD. I remember watching a few episodes, and being jarred every time I watched it, so difficult at the time it was to wrap your mind around an upside-down society where women were the power brokers running things and men were there for titillation and to keep the house tidy. Viewed today, the series could be viewed as prophetic, much in the same way one can view Mr. Paddy Chayefsky’s NETWORK as a harbinger of what was to come.

    Is it possible that ‘The Rebels’ was part of NBC’s weekend kidvid line-up? Given the clip, it would certainly have fulfilled the mandate to provide educational programming for children.

    1. the funny thing about “All That Glitters” is that it seems that’s the way society is headed.

      I suspect “The Rebels” was done by an independent station with NBC affiliation. The station would air their own programming during off-times such as mornings and weekends, and air NBC shows during prime-time. Back then local productions and independent stations were far more common than today.

    2. I watched All That Glitters also. Disappointed it didn’t last. It was painful for me to watch at times too. It shows just how bad society’s demeaning treatment if one sex truly is when roles are reversed. It should be released again on Netflix or Prime. It might have a better reception today, at least hoping it would.

  2. I want to start a petition or other method to make All That Glitters available. Do the episodes even exist?
    Thank you,
    Murrah Noble

    1. I don’t know if the episodes exist, if they do they are proably owned by Sony, since their predecessor Columbia Television bought the Norman Lear catalog in 1987. I would love to see them on a streaming service such as Amazon Prime or on You Tube as many other soap operas are.

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