Friday, June 23, 2017

Classic (?) TV: Battle of the Network Stars (1976)

The success of ABC's Sunday series, The Superstars, which pitted pro athletes from various sports in very different competitions, spawned a primetime, celebrity-driven companion series, Battle of the Network Stars, in which the Alphabet Network would invite stars from NBC & CBS' shows over for a friendly competition. For the next decade, we'd see this take place 1-2 times a year, up until 1985.

Howard Cosell anchored the coverage, with the exception of the May 1985 broadcast. At that point, Cosell had a falling out with ABC, and had seemingly hung up his microphone. However, he'd return for a 1-shot revival in 1988, which would be the last Battle for 29 years.

That's because someone at ABC thought it'd be a good idea to revive Battle anew, this time as a weekly summer series as part of a Thursday block that sees Battle sandwiched in between Boy Band and the revived Gong Show, the latter of which we reviewed earlier. Somehow, I don't think a weekly format works quite so well. Consider also that ABC had revived The Superstars in 2009 to tepid response.

Let's go back to 1976. The Dragnet-esque narration at the beginning is by Lorne Greene.

CBS saw the results, and decided to do their own network-exclusive series on weekends as a component of CBS Sports Spectacular. We'll try to locate some video of that for another time.

Rating: A. It's a guilty pleasure, after all.

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