It's Labor Day and I'm hot, tired, and bored, so I grabbed a TV Guide from a September 3 of years past and checked to see what was on TV 37 years ago tonight. You with me? No? Well, it's a holiday, so you can go do something else. For those equally bored and curious, this was a Philadelphia TV Guide, September 3, 1970, and primetime still started at 7:30, so...
3: KYW-TV (NBC) -- at the time, the big player in town with "Eyewitness News."
6: WFIL-TV (ABC) -- not yet the "Action News" powerhouse. Would become WPVI shortly.
10: WCAU-TV (CBS) -- a strong number two. Featuring the Voice of God and the NFL, John Facenda.
12: WHYY-TV (NET) -- at the time, not the best signal, still coming from well south (it's licensed to Wilmington).
17: WPHL-TV (Ind.) -- most sports-oriented of the indies back then.
29: WTAF-TV (Ind.) -- was just evolving into a strong player; later became the leading indie and is now the very strong Fox O&O.
48: WKBS-TV (Ind.) -- the strongest programming of the three indies. You know the story of how it died.
Also in the guide:
8: WGAL-TV Lancaster (NBC)
15: WLYH-TV Lancaster (CBS)
21: WHP-TV Harrisburg (CBS)
27: WTPA-TV Harrisburg (ABC)
39: WLVT-TV Bethlehem (PBS) -- always visible in much of the Philly area and on cable in most areas.
43: WSBA-TV York (CBS) -- yes, three CBS affiliates in one area. Each covered a part of what became the Harrisburg-Lancaster-York market. 43's now Fox, and 15's the CW.
3, 8: "Dear Mr. Gable." This was a special with clip and interviews about, obviously, Clark Gable, narrated by Burgess Meredith (!). It pre-empted "Daniel Boone" on NBC. Not sure if there was really a lot of interest left in Gable by then, a decade after his death and long after his biggest successes.
6, 27: "Animal World." Back then, you could still schedule nature documentaries to lead off a network evening schedule. It wasn't great for ratings, but this was ABC before it reached par with NBC and CBS, and it was before the fall schedule started, so Bill Burrud's nature stuff could fill time and nobody cared. This episode was a visit to the island of Barro Colorado in Panama, including that crowd-pleaser, the three-toed sloth.
10, 15, 21, 43: "Family Affair." In this rerun, Buffy committed suic... just kidding, in a most tasteless manner, naturally. No, this one is the one where an elderly Japanese man gives Jody a mysterious tree that he says is tied to his own life, and the tree starts to die as the guy heads back home. What fun! They just don't make sitcoms that funny anymore.
12: "Black Perspective." Long-running local show. Weirdly, this was a rerun of a panel discussion that aired the night before. Budgets were tight.
17: Movie: "Meeting in Salzburg" (1965). A delirious tycoon (Curt Jurgens) dreams he's on trial for his life. Co-starring several actors of whom you've never heard. And it turns out that "Meeting in Salzburg" wasn't even the real title of the movie. It was "Begegnung in Salzburg" in its native language and "Encounters in Salzburg" in the Anglo version, although some reference books do list "Meeting in Salzburg" -- but it seems to be the same movie. And it wasn't from 1965, it was from 1964. And Curt Jurgens was billed in Germany under his correct name, Curd Jürgens. Other than that, the listing's accurate. And it doesn't seem to have shown up on DVD or on cable for many years. Now I want to see this thing. It can't have just vaporized, can it?
29: "The Anniversary Game." Syndicated game show hosted by Alan Hamel. Trivia: it was on this show that Hamel met his future wife... Suzanne Somers. I kid you not.
39: "Antiques." "On display: Indian artifacts." And you wonder why public TV had few viewers in 1970.
48: "McHale's Navy": One of the later, less entertaining episodes set in Italy, the one where the Germans shoot at Binghamton while the local mayor runs scams on the crew.
6, 27: "That Girl." Rerun of one where Ann directs an amateur show at her dad Lew's country club. Guest stars: Dave Ketchum ("Agent 13"! "Camp Runamuck"!) and Carole Cook.
10, 15, 21, 43: Drama Special: "Crisis" with Carl Betz as Dr. Frank Chandler, a psychiatrist at a "crisis clinic." Co-star: a pre-stardom Billy Dee Williams. Producer: Quinn Martin. Unmentioned: this was no "special." This was a busted pilot from CBS' 1968 season. But it filled some time in an off week.
12, 39: "Washington News." Really, you could have edited NET right off your dial.
29: "I Spy." Cosby and Culp go to Tokyo, and Culp manages to find an Anglo with whom to fall in love. You know, I never watched "I Spy." Ever.
48: "Hazel." I did watch this, although I never understood why, suddenly, the family changed but the son remained behind. Turns out that the show moved networks, Shirley Booth paid out of pocket to keep it going, and they dropped Don DeFore and Whitney Blake in favor of Ray Fulmer and Lynn Borden, and right there is way more than you needed to know about "Hazel." This episode -- the new mom's sister-in-law thinks the new daughter should go to elocution school -- was from that last weird season. More trivia: Ann Jillian played the father's secretary.
3, 8: "Ironside." The one where Ironside admits his attraction to the guy who pushed his wheelchair. No, it's the one with a hostage situation, starring John Saxon ("a regular on 'The Bold Ones,'" the caption helpfully adds). I hated "Ironside" except for the opening theme. You know the theme, the one that sounds like a siren. Yeah, that one. You could keep the rest of the show.
6, 27: "Bewitched": Yes, it was still on. This was a Second Dick episode, hence it wasn't as good as the First Dick episodes. Samantha goes on an uncontrollable eating binge. Yes, Dr. Bombay was called in. Alice Ghostley's there, too. Bernie Kopell is "Apothecary"! Pat Priest -- Marilyn!!! -- plays a nurse! Maybe this wasn't such a bad episode after all.
12: "Book Beat," with Robert Cromie interviewing Erich Segal, the author of the then-number-one best-seller "Love Story." Love means never having to watch public television.
39: "NET Playhouse." "Talking to a Stranger -- Anytime You're Ready I'll Sparkle." First in a four-part drama about a family reunion, each part told from one family member's perspective. Star: Judi Dench.
48: "Candid Camera," from the Durward Kirby years. Guest: Woody Allen. Is this available on DVD? Not this particular episode, but there are DVDs available. Perhaps I'll purchase one soon.
6, 27: "This Is Tom Jones." Guests: Sammy Davis Jr.and the Band of the Welsh Guards. They didn't appear together, but they should have.
10, 15, 21, 43: Movie: "Three Bites of the Apple." A comedy from 1967 with David McCallum as Stanley Thrumm, a nebbish who hits the jackpot at a casino and, well, Harvey Korman gets involved. Really. So does Domenico Modugno. Who dat? The guy who sang the original "Volare," that's who. Can you find this movie anywhere? Again, apparently not. But someone has the poster.
12: "David Susskind," tomight looking at people who get married three times or more, and cops talking about violence in the community. Featuring lots of curling, mesmerizing cigarette smoke, no doubt.
29: "Virginia Graham." Guests: Johnny Mathis, James Farentino and Michele Lee, singer Hal Frazier, and conservationist (and, later, longtime ABC News personality) Roger Karas. I don't remember Virginia Graham having that many celebrities on one show. But, then again, I never watched.
48: "Perry Mason": Perry defends someone against impossible odds and wins. That described every episode. Why watch?
3, 8: "Dragnet." Friday and Col. Potter investigate a high school kid's disappearance. Staccato comments and raised eyebrows are exchanged.
17: "Twilight Zone." Wagonmaster searches for water and finds more than he bargained for. Cliff Robertson is the wagonmaster. John Astin was in this episode; so was Ed Platt (the Chief!) and actress Evans Evans. Evans Evans? Yes, Evans Evans, but she was also Evans Frankenheimer, married to John.
3, 8: "The Golddiggers": Yes, they had their own Summer show! This was back when "Summer show" meant cheesy variety shows that took the place of the Fall/Winter cheesy variety shows. "The Golddiggers" were Dean Martin's Summer replacement, of course, and this episode featured guests Charles Nelson Reilly and Marty Feldman and regular Tommy Tune, who wasn't a Broadway star/director yet. Jayne Kennedy was a Golddigger. I will not mention "the tape" or anything on it here.
6, 27: "The Survivors": Harold Robbins soap with a cast of thousands headed by Lana Turner, George Hamilton, Jan-Michael Vincent, Ralph Bellamy, Kevin "We're All In Great Danger!" McCarthy, Clu Gulager, Rossano Brazzi, Diana Muldaur, Natalie "Mrs. Howell" Schafer, Michael Ansara, and Robert Lipton, who's worked steadily in Hollywood but whose real claim to fame is being Peggy Lipton's brother and, therefore, uncle of Rashida Jones, Karen in the American version of "The Office."
17: "Of Lands and Seas": Travel show, this week on Banff National Park. UHF stations used to air this stuff all the time, since it was a) free and b) kept the signal on the air until something more profitable could be found.
29: "World of Sport": Dunno what it was, but it only lasted 5 minutes. Probably a score wrapup.
39: "Newsfront": I assume this was channel 39's attempt at local news.
48: News, Carl Grant: This WAS channel 48's attempt at local news. For a short time, Kaiser spent the money to mount a 10:00 news effort aping successful independents in New York and Los Angeles. Didn't work. What happened to Carl Grant? Not much: he's only the Chairman of the President's Advisory Group for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and a Senior VP, executive counsel to the president and CEO, and... well, read it yourself.
29: "Variety Special." "The comedy team of Soul and Grits along with comedian Renny Jones host an hour of song, dance, and humor with special guest, singer Adam Wade." I did not make a word of this up.
39: "Environment." Topic: population control. They still were on the Paul Ehrlich "population Bomb" kick back then. Turns out they were wrong.
48: "Alfred Hitchcock Presents": Woman frightened by youth in the neighborhood. Bruce Dern was in it.
12: "Film." AKA filler.
Later, Johnny had singer Dick Jensen as a guest. Who? I believe it was this guy, who was a pretty big deal in Hawaii and did a proto-Moonwalk. Merv, on CBS, had comic Jimmy Martinez -- this guy. No guests were listed for Dick Cavett. Phil Donahue, still in Dayton, was on 29 -- no topic listed. And on 17 at 11, Wink Martindale hosted "Can You Top This?" with guests Milton Berle, Morey Amsterdam, and Henny Youngman.
Next time you complain there's nothing on your 300 channel cable dial, your DVR, your on-demand cable menu, and your DVD collection, remember this.