Monday, September 7, 2015

Classic TV: Route 66 (1960)

It was originally intended as a spin-off from Naked City, but it didn't happen that way. Contrary to what a lot of us thought, Nelson Riddle's iconic instrumental theme is not a cover of the Bobby Troup-penned "(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66", but rather a homage, particularly of Nat King Cole's version of that song. In the end, Route 66 was as much an icon and a trailblazer.

Route 66 spent 4 seasons on CBS (1960-4), and told the story of two young travelers, Tod Stiles (Martin Milner) and Buz Murdock (George Maharis), who drove around the country, and, as they passed through, they helped people with their struggles. Not long into the 3rd season, Maharis left the series, and was replaced by Glenn Corbett, as Buz was written out. When the show ended, Tod got married, which was the coda for the series.

Sony decided to revive Route 66, this time on NBC, in 1993, with MTV jock Dan Cortese as one of the stars. It tanked, and was cancelled after a month of poor ratings. Apparently, reviving the show with completely new characters, because you couldn't recast the original leads, and risk fan apathy that way, was not the way to go, either.

Today, Me-TV, and for a time, Retro, have had cable rights. In Me-TV's case, they tended to bury the show in overnights for the DVR audience. Referring to the original series, that is.

I didn't watch enough of the show to merit rating it. We'll leave you with a sample episode, "To Walk With The Serpent", in memory of Martin Milner, who passed away today at 83.

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