Sunday, June 18, 2017

What Might've Been: Biff Baker USA (1952)

While spy dramas were starting to fill the airwaves on radio and television, some just didn't make the grade when they should've. As with all genres, it's just a case of the network trying to program against its competitors and attempting to gauge audience interest. It's a problem as old as time.

In 1952, Revue Studios cast Alan Hale, Jr. in the title role in Biff Baker USA, a secret agent drama that had Baker using the cover of a importing/exporting magnate, alongside his wife. At the time, Hale's father, Alan, Sr., was, I think, still active in Hollywood. As we all know, Hale dropped the "Jr." when he was cast in Casey Jones (1957) & Gilligan's Island (1964-7).

In "Crash Landing", the Bakers go behind the Iron Curtain to rescue an American pilot.

So why did it fail? One word. Dragnet. CBS dropped Baker, which finished its season in syndication, a practice no longer common in this day & age. Dragnet, of course, had a pre-sold, built-in audience carrying over from radio, something Baker couldn't compete with.

No rating.


Mike Doran said...

Alan Hale Sr. died in 1950.
Alan Hale Jr. pretty much left it up to whoever was hiring him to use or not use 'Jr.'.
By the time Gilligan's Island started up, 'Jr.' was no longer in use.

hobbyfan said...

Thanks for the clarification.