Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Classic TV: Emergency! (1972)

Jack Webb wanted to branch out and create another kind of drama series as a companion to Adam-12. What he did became one of the more popular shows of the 70's.

Emergency! was the 2nd 1 hour series Webb had developed during the 1971-2 season. The first, O'Hara: US Treasury, was a comeback vehicle for David Janssen (ex-The Fugitive), and bowed in the fall on CBS. However, it couldn't find an audience opposite ABC's Partridge Family & Room 222, and thus would be the only series Webb sold to CBS after it was cancelled. Emergency! bowed in January 1972 with a 2 hour movie, "The Wedsworth-Townsend Act", then went right into a weekly 1 hour format the very next week.

Emergency! was a spin-off from Adam-12, whose stars, Martin Milner & Kent McCord, appeared in the opener, with cast members from Emergency! subsequently returning the favor. Oddly, one storyline had paramedic John Gage agonizing over missing the end to an episode of----wait for it---Adam-12. Go figure. William Boyett, a regular on Adam-12 as Sgt. McDonald, made periodic appearances as a fire battalion captain on Emergency!. Tim Donnelly was known from having previously appeared on Dragnet, but the real shock was real-life fireman Mike Stoker appearing as himself as a series regular. Talk about lending authenticity!

The action often bounced back and forth between the paramedics on scene and Rampart General Hospital and its staff, populated by the likes of cast members Robert Fuller and the husband & wife team of Julie London & Bobby Troup, whose daughter, Ronnie, was a regular on My Three Sons at the end of its run.

Emergency! spawned a spin-off of its own, namely, a Saturday morning series, Emergency! Plus 4, which lasted exactly one season (1973-4), also on NBC, and co-produced by Universal, Mark VII Limited (Webb's production company), and independent producer Fred Calvert. During season 2, series regular Ron Pinkard moonlighted as a voice actor, as he was heard on Sealab 2020, which Plus 4 ultimately replaced.

Currently, reruns air 6 days a week on Me-TV, but apparently, the network doesn't have all the episodes, and that would include the 6 TV-movies produced between 1977-9, after the series had ended.

Now, let's go back to the beginning. Here's "The Wadsworth-Townsend Act":

I must say I have no recollection of seeing the above, but I did see plenty of series episodes. Unfortunately, no regular episodes are currently available to YouTube.

Rating: A.


magicdog said...

Love love love Emergency!

I grew up watching the series proper as well as the TV movies and it was a good, if formulaic show. This show did a lot to encourage people to become paramedics and paved the way for the modern EMT profession.

I had a huge crush On Randy Mantooth, and I do remember seeing him on a soap opera for years after Emergency ended. He still looks pretty hot!

Kevin Tighe oddly enough would frequently be used as a villian in some movies. Remember K-9?

He did play a good guy in that Patrick Swayze chestnut, "Road House".

Dare I say I used to watch the "+4" series too? I caught an ep online and it doesn't hold up too well (meddling kids and their animals!) but having Tighe and Mantooth reprise their roles in animated form was the hook.

The Hospital staff at Rampart were fun to watch too. I didn't know much about Julie London's career until much later, but it was a hoot seeing her romance both Brackett and Kelley- even though she was actually married to Troup!

I've seen Robert Fuller in many other shows both before and after "Emergency!" and he seems to have aged quite well.

hobbyfan said...

Tighe was also in "Eight Men Out", with Charlie Sheen and co.. It was the first I'd seen of him since Emergency! ended.

What killed Plus 4 (and I reviewed that over at Saturday Morning Archives a ways back) was the shoddy animation, not so much having kids on the show (copying Super Friends over on ABC).