Monday, February 15, 2016

Classic TV: The Merv Griffin Show (1965 edition)

Four different incarnations of the same show, between two networks and syndication, over the course of 24 years. This, despite the fact he also had time to not only host a game show or two, but create a couple as well, over this period.

Small wonder, then, that singer-turned-game/talk show host-turned-mogul Merv Griffin is considered a television icon.

Griffin's first talk show aired on NBC, where he'd hosted Goodson-Todman's Play Your Hunch roughly around the same time. In 1965, the show was reborn in syndication under the aegis of Group W Broadcasting, an arm of Westinghouse, the same folks who syndicated Mike Douglas' daytime yak-fest, as well as David Frost's program. After four years, Griffin moved his tack to CBS, where he was slotted in late night, opposite Joey Bishop and NBC's Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. After three years of being Avis to Carson's Hertz, and sending Bishop off to Rat Pack parties (ABC cancelled Bishop's show) as a parting gift from the late night wars, Griffin moved back into syndication. As before, his program was given a flexible time slot. Some stations aired it in the afternoon. In the home district, it aired for a time at 4 pm (ET), an hour ahead of Douglas, who was on another channel. In New York, WNEW carried the show in primetime for the length of the 14 year run.

We're going to take a look at the 1965-9 Westinghouse series, which is airing on Get TV on Monday nights and Sunday mornings. During this period, stations had an option to air the show for 60 or 90 minutes. Get TV is using the 60 minute format, which is heavily edited, and not very well in some cases. Here, Merv interviews another icon, Betty White.

Reelin In The Years Productions, which gets its name from an old Steely Dan record, holds the rights to the old tapes. I think in time we'll see the later shows in color. Just check your listings for Get TV. You'll be glad you did. Unless you fall asleep listening to Merv's interviews. I think now we know who Arsenio Hall's role model was for his brand of interviews..........!

Rating: B+.

No comments: