Friday, March 24, 2017

Forgotten TV: Breaking Away (1980)

Breaking Away was an example of a hit film failing to convert into a television show meant to continue the story. Peter Yates, who directed the movie, served as an executive producer for the series, which was meant to premiere in the fall of 1980, but delayed two months due to a strike, and bowed on Thanksgiving weekend.

Shaun Cassidy (ex-The Hardy Boys-Nancy Drew Mysteries) assumed the lead role essayed by Dennis Christopher in the film, joined by Jackie Earle Haley (ex-The Bad News Bears), Barbara Barrie (ex-Barney Miller), Vincent Gardenia (ex-All in The Family), John Ashton (later of the "Beverly Hills Cop" movies), & Thom Bray (later of Riptide). Haley, Ashton, & Oscar nominee Barrie reprised their movie roles.

Breaking Away aired on Saturday nights, when it was still a viable programming night. However, poor ratings forced a quick exit, and the series returned in the summer of 1981 on Monday nights.

Cassidy isn't the only 2nd generation star featured in our sample. "Heart Like a Wheel" features an early appearance by Chris Lemmon.

Producer Glenn Gordon Caron, of course, would go on to create the 80's cult hit, Moonlighting. Co-producer Sam Manners came over from Columbia, where he'd worked on Route 66 & Naked City, among others. While the movie was a critical favorite, the two month delay before the series started proved to be costly to 20th Century Fox & ABC. Bear in mind, too, since the sport of choice was cycling, that this all came out before international races such as the Tour de France gained bigger headlines.

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