Saturday, January 28, 2017

Forgotten TV: Nashville 99 (1977)

The suits at CBS thought merging country music with a police drama was a great idea. Unfortunately, viewers outside of the South disagreed, which is why Nashville 99 lasted just 4 weeks in April 1977.

Nashville 99 was a collaboration between producer Ernie Frankel and 20th Century Fox, coming 3 1/2 years after Frankel had shepherded Fox's ill-fated reboot of Perry Mason, also for CBS. Claude Akins (ex-Movin' On) was cast as police detective/farmer "Stoney" Huff, whose new partner (Jerry Reed) was looking ahead to a future in country music (of course). Reed also co-wrote and sang the show's theme song. For Reed, this was his 2nd and final series for CBS, having previously fronted a short-lived variety show built around his 1971 hit, "When You're Hot, You're Hot".

The series also saw the acting debuts of country music superstars Charley Pride and Johnny Paycheck, among others, not counting comedy sketches they'd have done on, say, Hee Haw. As noted, though, Nashville 99, despite the theme by Reed and veteran composer Earle Hagen being chart-worthy (it was that good), didn't finish the month.

Another singer, Tony Wells, guest starred in the sample episode, posted to YouTube under his name.

Akins, of course, would rebound as corrupt Georgia sheriff Elroy P. Lobo, first on B. J. & The Bear, and then, its spinoff, The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo, but would not land another series after Lobo ended its run. He would spend the 80's as a pitchman for Aamco Transmissions.

Rating: A.

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