Friday, April 14, 2017

Classic TV: The ABC Movie of the Week (1969)

For years, the networks scheduled up to three movie nights a week, usually with films that had been long out of theatres.

In 1969, ABC decided to do something, well, novel. They decided to experiment by producing their own movies, and run them once, sometimes twice, a week. The ABC Movie of the Week aired on Tuesdays, later adding a Wednesday berth, with each film slotted into a 90 minute berth. This ultimately led to a number of series being spun off from initial movies, including:

The Rookies
The Six Million Dollar Man
The Sixth Sense
Starsky & Hutch
Get Christie Love!

Oh, sure, there were a few cult favorites in the lot. ABC tried a Wonder Woman pilot, with Cathy Lee Crosby in the title role, which bowed near the end of the Amazon's "Emma Peel-lite" phase in the comics. "Killdozer" was later adapted into a comic book by Marvel. "Duel", with Dennis Weaver, was directed by future icon Steven Spielberg. Aaron Spelling produced a large chunk of the movies, not just the pilots for Starsky and The Rookies, mind, but also a trilogy of films that started with "The Daughters of Joshua Cabe", which starred Buddy Ebsen, Karen Valentine, and Jack Elam, the latter of whom would appear in one of the two sequels. Unfortunately, "Joshua Cabe" never made it to series beyond the trilogy.

Just as unfortunate was ABC's decision to discontinue the Movie of the Week in the late 70's, building a powerhouse comedy block on Tuesday nights in its place. A lot of films aren't available on DVD, making them that much more desired by classic TV enthusiasts.

Here's the intro, which leads to "Second Chance", starring Brian Keith (Family Affair), William Windom, Juliet Prowse, and Avery Schreiber. Hollywood Palace announcer Dick Tufeld has those chores here.

I didn't see too many of these movies, largely because in those days, ye scribe was going to bed a wee bit earlier than I do now. Down the road, we'll be pulling some of the movies that are available on YouTube, and reviewing them.

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