Saturday, August 12, 2017

What Might've Been: The Psychiatrist (1970)

NBC was big on anthology, or, "wheel" series in the early 70's. The Name of the Game & The Bold Ones are considered "wheel" shows because each had separate segments that never crossed over with each other.

In 1970, NBC introduced Four-in-One, which wasn't a true anthology in that the four series in the wheel didn't rotate. Instead, McCloud, Night Gallery, San Francisco International Airport, & The Psychiatrist each took turns with 6-episode seasons. Of these, Night Gallery & McCloud were the most successful.

Today, we're focusing on The Psychiatrist.

Executive Producer Norman Felton brought his production company, Arena Productions, to Universal from MGM, where he'd had some success with Dr. Kildaire & The Man From U.N.C.L.E. in the 60's, both for NBC. To my knowledge, this may have been Felton's last network project at that point. Roy Thinnes (ex-The Invaders) starred as Dr. James Whitman, who had his hands full with an assortment of patients whose issues allowed for the discussion of social issues of the day.

The pilot, "God Bless The Children", aka "Children of the Lotus Eaters", aired in December 1970, with Psychiatrist going to series less than 2 months later. Peter Duel (Alias Smith & Jones) co-stars as ex-con Casey Poe. The title song is performed by the Staple Singers, who also appear.

Parental advisory: "Children" is heavy on drug themes.



I wasn't too thrilled with the repeated jump cuts from the junkies back to the various meetings among adults. The original story, by noted mystery writers Richard Levinson & William Link (Mannix, Columbo) was adapted by Jerrold Freeman, but apparently something got lost in the translation.

Due to the drug themes, I'm not mirroring this over in Saturday Morning Archives, despite the presence of future Super Friends cast-mates Norman Alden (ex-Rango) and Shannon Farnon.

I think you can see why The Psychiatrist ended up failing. Not only that, but it aired opposite the 3rd year series, Hawaii Five-O. Ballgame over. If you pay close attention, you'll see a pre-Happy Days Marion Ross as a concerned parent.

Rating: C-.

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