Saturday, July 11, 2015

What Might've Been: The Tammy Grimes Show (1966)

Riding high on the success of Batman, producer William Dozier added two more series to ABC's lineup in the fall of 1966. Unfortunately, on a professional level, Dozier had already jumped the shark.

We have previously discussed at length The Green Hornet, which led off ABC's Friday slate. It would've succeeded on its own merits if the network and/or Dozier hadn't insisted on a crossover with Batman. Having the Hornet & Kato (Van Williams & Bruce Lee) interact with the Dynamic Duo led viewers to expect another camp adventure series, but Hornet was anything but, and subsequently was cancelled. This also led to ABC, and the other networks, for that matter, not picking up Dozier's pilots for Dick Tracy and Wonder Woman (both previously discussed) the following year. Wonder Woman was awful, perhaps even worse than our next subject........

Bear in mind that before Batman, Dozier's 1st series was the CBS Western, The Loner. The combination of Dozier, at the time an unknown quantity, with actor Lloyd Bridges (ex-Sea Hunt) and series creator Rod Serling (Twilight Zone) should've equaled ratings success. It didn't, because there were still enough oaters on the schedule, such that 20th Century Fox, which would have difficulties mounting a hit Western the rest of the decade, was left on Boot Hill.

So, to complement Hornet & Batman at ABC, Dozier went in the other extreme, trying a straight sitcom. Comedienne-singer Tammy Grimes had been originally considered for Bewitched two years earlier before Elizabeth Montgomery landed the career defining role of Samantha Stephens. ABC felt they needed to do something for Grimes, hence, The Tammy Grimes Show, which instead goes down in history as one of the worst sitcoms of all time. And the 60's were full of clunkers, you know.

Future Oscar winner John(ny) Williams composed the mod score. Williams was well established at Fox, having composed the themes for Lost in Space and another Fox/ABC frosh, Time Tunnel, but a sitcom? Well...! Dick Sargent, fresh from being released from his contract at Universal after the cancellation of Broadside, played Tammy's "twin" brother. Fraternal twin, I would assume. He'd move on to Bewitched after this dismal failure, since Grimes lasted just a month.

Suffice it to say, after Batman ended 18 months later, Dozier's success rate would put him under baseball's Mendoza line, when you factor in the unsold pilots.

Following is a sample clip.




I imagine if they wanted a vocalist for the theme, Tammy would've done it herself.

Rating: D.

12 comments:

magicdog said...

I had never heard of Tammy Grimes having once been considered for the role of Samantha! I had heard the familiar story of Dick Sargent having been originally selected to play Darrin but was tied up with this show .

Personally, I can't see this actress playing Sam. Her voice alone gives me that nails on a chalkboard feeling.

hobbyfan said...

Folks were sharing the story on YouTube in the comments section about how Bewitched was originally meant for Grimes, but I'm with you. Until I'd seen those comments, I didn't think that was the case.

SaturdayMorningFan said...

Actually, John Williams did in fact score a sitcom, and IMHO he did it quite well. He wrote much of the incidental music for Gilligan's Island.

hobbyfan said...

Huh-hmmmm. Have to check the credits for that. I know Gerald Fried composed some of the music, with Sherwood Schwartz & George Wyle having written the theme song.

SaturdayMorningFan said...

You'll have to check the credits in the early season 1 episodes - that's where he's mentioned. When I saw his name in the credits I made a point to listen carefully to the incidental music so I'd know which strains were his. I recall that most of the bits of background music that I most strongly associate with Gilligan's Island appeared in the first few episodes that he scored. Not surprising in retrospect as I've been a huge fan of Mr. Williams since his Star Wars / Close Encounters / Superman days in my youth. I just never knew he had scored Gilligan's Island until I bought the DVD sets when they first came out.

hobbyfan said...

This does jar my memory. I do remember seeing John Williams' name in the credits during the 1st half of season 1, but after that, nope. Hmmmm.

SaturdayMorningFan said...

Yes, and they recycled the music from those first episodes ad infinitum. I wonder just what percentage of Gilligan Island'sstock music John Williams wrote, and what percentage was done by Gerald Fried? We may never know.

hobbyfan said...

Ah, an Unsolved Mystery. I think I'd need to do a piece on that particular show someday......

Mike Doran said...

I tried to put this up way back when, but I couldn't get your comment mechanism to work.
Anyway ...

When William Dozier went into independent production in 1965, he had just left his position as head of production at Screen Gems (later Columbia Pictures TV).
It was while Dozier had that job that Bewitched was being put together - and Dozier, who was a friend of Tammy Grimes of some years standing, offered it to her first.
They'd known each other going back to when Dozier was an important executive at the CBS network, on both coasts; while there he'd repeatedly tried to talk Grimes into trying weekly TV, but she wanted to stay on Broadway.
Anyway, Dozier was at CBS for much of the '50s, except for a brief stretch when he was recruited to save RKO Radio Pictures, which Howard Hughes had bankrupted in his search for new girlfriends; he couldn't pull it off, and went back to CBS, and later to Screen Gems

All of the foregoing is to point out that in the mid-'60s, William Dozier was anything but an "unknown quantity"; indeed, when Batman was announced with his name attached to it, many in the industry thought their collective legs were being pulled.
That Batman turned out to be the biggest hit he ever had - to the point that it provided him with a late-in-life career as a voice-over man - surprised Dozier more than anyone else.

Sorry about the delay, but I had to give it one more try ...

hobbyfan said...

Well, Mike, to me, at that time, he was an unknown quantity. I was but a mere kid in the 60's......

Mike Doran said...

"...I was a mere kid in the '60s ..."

So was I.

But I was reading TV Guide back then, even at a tender age.

The first I ever heard of William Dozier was when TVG profiled him, circa 1964/65; that was when he was running Screen Gems (later Columbia Pictures TV).
The story covered his entire Hollywood career to date, going back to his start as a screenwriter at RKO Radio Pictures back in the '40s, and going through his stays as a CBS programming exec in the '50s and again in the early '60s.
In one of life's little ironies, the article appeared just at the point that Dozier left Screen Gems to set up as an independent producer (a notice to that effect appeared in the programming section that very week; Jackie Cooper was announced as his replacement).
Anyhoo, "unknown quantity" was scarcely the designation for Bill Dozier in '66.

As you can probably tell, I never let up ...

hobbyfan said...

We must be at or around the same age, Mike.