My Journey Through 1970s TV: Tuesdays in 1970

My Journey Through 1970s TV: Tuesdays in 1970


Recently I began a quest to watch at least one episode of every prime time network television series to air in the 1970s. Thus far I’ve looked back at the Sunday night and Monday night schedules from 1970, and so far, so good. All the shows that aired on those nights can be added to the “saw it” list.


Next up –Tuesday in 1970. And the ABC lineup gets me off to a good start.



The Mod Squad

Movie of the Week

Marcus Welby, M.D.


I liked The Mod Squad enough to try buying the DVDs twice, and both times I got stuck with faulty discs. 


I’ll try again one of these days. But even without the sets on my shelf I’ve watched and enjoyed many of the episodes, which aren’t as dated as you might think given the series’ “counterculture cops” premise. Plus, Peggy Lipton is just endlessly watchable here. As Julie Barnes she was not the most emotive actress, I’ll give you that, but there was a compassion and vulnerability to the character that viewers found captivating. 



Meanwhile, Marcus Welby, M.D. was reviving the “Who’s the hottest TV doctor?” debate, albeit not with top-billed star Robert Young. The 1970s gave us a sequel of sorts to the James Kildare vs. Ben Casey rivalry, pitting Welby’s motorcycle-riding associate Steven Kiley, played by James Brolin, against Chad Everett as Dr. Joe Gannon on Medical Center.  


It’s been many years since I’ve watched an episode, but some of the stories have stuck with me for decades. Take “A Fragile Possession,” in which a young woman meets with Dr. Welby to obtain    an abortion, not because of any medical danger to her or the baby but because it might hurt her career as a model. Welby’s indignant response would likely get the show canceled if it aired now. The actual airdate was in September of 1972 – just four months before the Supreme Court issued its decision in Roe v. Wade. How times have changed.



The Beverly Hillbillies

Green Acres

Hee Haw

To Rome With Love

CBS News Hour/60 Minutes


This was the last television season for CBS before the infamous “rural purge,” which was officially announced in 1971.


“It was the year CBS killed everything with a tree in it,” said Green Acres star Pat Buttram, as executives sought a more sophisticated image that better aligned with their “Tiffany network” status. So it was goodbye to Beverly Hillbillies and Green Acres, as well as Hee Haw, which moved into syndication and lasted another 24 years. On the occasion of its 50th anniversary I had the pleasure of interviewing Hee Haw Honeys Misty Rowe and Irlene Mandrell for an article published in Cowboys & Indians magazine. 



There were no cornfields in To Rome With Love but it was canceled as well due to low ratings. Never saw it back then but the pilot episode is on YouTube. In it, the recently widowed father of three daughters (played by John Forsythe) accepts an invitation to teach in Rome. The girls aren’t too happy at first but soon settle into their new surroundings. Don Fedderson and Edmund Hartmann, the talent behind Family Affairand My Three Sons, came up with the show, and stuck with their favorite formula of a single male raising three kids. 



It’s not fair to judge any show by its pilot, particularly in this case as two of its better cast members are not in the episode – Walter Brennan as Michael’s grandfather, and Kay Medford as his sister, who repeatedly tries to convince the family to come back to America. Instead we get a lot of Vito Scotti in one of his typical over-enthusiastic (and annoying) ethnic roles. None of the girls were that interesting either, and all three have very short IMDB listings, suggesting they got honest work not long after this series folded.


As for 60 Minutes – I can watch it this Sunday. But I won’t. For decades this venerable news magazine was one of network television’s last bastions of balanced, responsible journalism. Not anymore, sadly.



The Don Knotts Show


NBC Tuesday Night Movie


Of course I know Julia, a series that was seen as a breakthrough in representation, but too often folded under the weight of that responsibility. 



But with The Don Knotts Show I have sadly reached the first stumbling block in my quest. But there’s a caveat: While I never specified this at the outset, the goal here is really to watch every scripted series from this decade. There were so many short-lived variety series in the 1970s, including several summer replacement shows that likely won’t even show up in the source I’m using to check the nightly schedules. So I’ll count it, but I won’t lose much sleep over it. 



In an interview with The Archive of American Television, Knotts looked back on the series and explained why he thought it didn’t work.


Shows Missed:

The Don Knotts Show (1970)

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