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What’s on TV: Friday Night (1965)

Transcript of the video is below.

Hey! Hey! Hey! Kim here. Alright, I hyped this day a fair amount in my Thursday video, and here we are. It’s easy to write off Friday. It’s the end of the week and we’ve already talked about more than a few legendary shows. Every show one thinks about with a hint of nostalgia, it has been on the air in 1965. As they say… (You Aint Seen Nothing Yet).

Now, let’s see what’s on Friday night.  

7:30pm

Jumping into the night, there’s a fascinating head to head match-up, particularly between ABC and CBS. While there’s little crossover here, both of these shows are still firmly in many memories.

ABC started the night with the final season of The Flintstones. The animated series had been a fixture on the network since its 1960 debut. The legendary Hanna-Barbera series is at its roots a stone age take on The Honeymooners. However, thanks to this initial run– and the staying power it carved out in popular culture– it has quickly became well-loved on it’s own merit. The show featured the vocal talents of Alan Reed and Jean Vander Pyle as well as the iconic Mel Blanc and Bea Benaderet. Though, actress Gerry Johnson would voice Betty Rubble in the final seasons.

Meanwhile, over on CBS, they dropped this little gem. The Wild Wild West began its debut season in the fall of 1965, starring Robert Conrad and Ross Martin in the dynamic and fun part western/part spy drama, combining all the popular trends on television over the previous decades.  The show followed government agents Jim West and Artimus Gordon as they brought law and order to The Wild Wild West.  The show would go onto run four season before its cancellation in 1969.

Meanwhile, NBC started the night out struggling against its dynamic competition. To open the night, they aired the first and only season of Camp Runamuck. The series starred Arch Johnson, David Ketchum, Dave Madden and is described as following the wacky high-jinks at a boys summer camp. The show was unfortunately placed in a challenging spot, and only ran 26 episodes before its eventual cancellation.

8:00pm

While The Wild, Wild West finished on ABC, the other two networks went head to head with dueling comedies.

Over on ABC, they started with another series attempting to loosley reboot a well-trod franchise with Tammy.  The half hour comedy starred Debbie Watson in the title role opposite Denver Pyle, Donald Woods and journeyman George Furth. The series followed Tammy as she travels between her bayou family on a houseboat and a job on working for the wealthy Brent family on their plantation. Like ABC’s Wednesday offering Gidget, Tammy initally came from a series of books and had been adapted into three films before coming to television. Tammy ran 26 episodes before its eventual cancellation.

Meanwhile, NBC aired a series called Hank, which starred Dick Kallman, Linda Foster, Katie Sweet and Howard St. John. The half hour comedy is described as following the titular character– played by Kallman– who is a teenager attempting to raise his younger sister played by Sweet, after the death of their parents. In order to get ahead in life, humorously juggles odd jobs, his personal life, and attempts to scheme his way into a college education. The series came to an end in 1966 with what is discussed as a early example of a true series finale binging the story to a close, seeing Hank finally admitted to college. 

8:30pm

As the half hour turned, all three networks came with brand new shows.

We all know the theme song (play The Addams Family theme song). The Addams Family was going into its second and final season on the network. Originally based on the comic book series of the same name, the show has been memorialized in culture in syndication as well as multiple feature film remakes. Though, this version will always be the most delightful.

The show starred John Astin and Carolyn Jones as Gomez and Morticia Addams as Gomez and Morticia, head of the Addams family as they try and raise their children Wendesday and Pugsley (played by Lisa Loring and Ken Weatherwax) in the colorful and unconventional Addams Way. Jackie Coogan, Marie Blake and Ted Cassidy co-stared in the series.

Meanwhile,  CBS continued their typical dominance with the debut season of the World War II situation comedy Hogan’s Heroes. The iconic series followed a group of soldiers at a P.O.W. camp and their comedic misadventures as they outwit their nazi captors. The series stared Bob Crane, Werner Klemperer, John Banner, Richard Dawson, Ivan Dixon, Larry Hovis and Robert Clary. The show would continue on the network for six seasons before it was cancelled in 1971.

Over on NBC, the network aired their own World War II series, Covoy. The series starred John Gavin and John Larch as crew members on a cargo ship crossing the Atlantic ocean as part of a convoy. The series utilized an anthology narrative and a rotating cycle of guest stars like Dennis Hopper, Diane Baker, Leslie Nielsen and Barbara Rush just to name a few. The series struggled against its dominating competition and was cancelled at midseason.

NBC slid The Sammy Davis Jr. Show into the timeslot recently vacated by Convoy. The show… As you can tell..  was a variety show hosted by the stupidly talented… Heck, I’ll say it… Most talented member of the rat pack, Sammy Davis Jr.  This also makes sense as we discussed fellow Rat Pack member Dean Martin had his own show on the network to close out the Thursday night line up. The show, which features a line up typical of a mid 1960s variety show, was cancelled after a half season.

9:00pm

As the clock crested the next hour, NBC ran with the second half of Convoy, leaving CBS and ABC to go head to head with new programming– and this block is another painful one.

Over on CBS we have another ratings juggernaut.

(Play clip)

We talked about the staying power of The Andy Griffith Show way back on Monday, and Friday nights saw the network capitalizing on the show’s love with the second season of Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C. The show debuted the previous year and featured Jim Nabors as Gomer Pyle, the part he made famous on main show. The premise was a simple one, following Mayberry’s favorite gas station attendant joining the marines. The show co-starred Frank Sutton. Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C. was a decisive hit and would remain on the network through for five seasons before its cancellation in 1969.

As we’ve shown throughout this week, only a turn of the dial separates a hit and a flop in television and not every show can be a hit. ABC provided the alternate programing to Gomer Pyle in the form of the half hour spy series, Honey West. The show starred Anne Francis as the titualar character, a private investigator solving crimes in swinging Los Angeles. John Ericson co-starred as Sam Bolt, her assistant, partner and general boy friday. Like Gomer Pyle, the show was a spin-off, coming from Burke’s Law, which we talked about as part of the Wednesday night line-up. As I mentioned previously, there was a definite trend of women helming shows during this period, but unfortunately Honey West was another which just trounced in a rough time slot. The show was cancelled after a single season.

9:30pm

We’re almost at the end of the night here and the 9:30 block shows the networks each running a varied, but relatively lack-luster line-up of new shows.

The ABC line-up should look familiar to regular viewers. We’ve talked about both these shows in previous videos.

Primetime soap Peyton Place began the season in this Friday timeslot, but was soon relocated to Monday nights. ABC orchestrated a relatively simple flip flop early in the season, moving Peyton Place to Mondays and replacing it with the final season comedy The Farmer’s Daughter.

Meanwhile, NBC continued their war block with the hour long drama Mister Roberts. The series was preceded a stage play and was later produced as a 1955 feature film starring Henry Fonda, Jack Lemmon, William Powell and James Cagney. This time out, Roger Smith top-lined the show, stepping into the role of the titular character. The series co-stared Steve Harmon, George Ives and Richard X. Slattery. The plot followed the misadventures of a cargo ship crew during World War II. The series was also a victim of a dynamic Friday night and was cancelled after a single season.

Finally, CBS gave the coveted Gomer Pyle follow up spot to The Smothers Brothers who co-starred in The Smothers Brothers Show. A look over the plot description is rather– complicated. The series is described as a fantasy sitcom starred Dick Smothers as a record exec with brother Tom appearing as an apprentic angle after having been lost at sea years before. A look over of The Smothers Brothers Show reveals a complex show which feels ahead of its time. The show only ran for one season and has largely been replaced in the pop culture consciousness by The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, which would debut in 1967.

10:00pm

As the night came to a close, the networks dropped a host of hour long shows, appealing to a wide audience and ever changing tastes.

ABC brought the night to a close with yet another variety show, airing The Jimmy Dean Show. Take note kids, Jimmy Dean is more than the breakfast sausage guy. This would be the final season of the show whch had ran on the network since 1963.

Meanwhile, CBS began the year with what would be the final half season of Slattery’s People. The series starred the delightful Richard Crenna in his follow-up to his long-running success on The Real McCoys. This time out, Crenna appeared opposite Ed Asner and Tol Avery. The show featured Crenna as a local politican and examined the extent of his work with his constiuents through an anthology narrative. While the show had some definite critical buzz behind it, it didn’t lead to popularity. Slattery’s People was cancelled at midseason.

CBS slid another legal series into the slot at midseason, moving The Trials of O’Brien off of its previous spot on Saturday nights. The series starred the legendary Peter Falk in a pre-Columbo role as a lawyer– bringing all the Peter Falk-ey quirks. The series co-starred the equally delightful duo of Elaine Stritch as  his secretary and Joanna Barnes as his ex–wife. The show brought an impressive crop of guest stars, but unfortunately it only ran a half season. However, with the blessings of hindsight, it allowed him to step into the role of Lieutenant Columbo in 1968.

In a change of pace for the week, NBC had the long running favorite of the timeslot thanks to this gem.

Role clip credits

At this point, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was going into it’s second season, co starring Robert Vaughn and David McCallum as suave, cool and always delightful super-spies. They looked cool, they got the girls, and they very rarely had to break a sweat as they took on the bad guys from T.H.R.U.S.H.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. would continue on the network for four season in total before it’s eventual cancellation in 1968.

Conclusion

While the 1965 TV season has been a veritable whos who in terms of the best teleivsion to hit the airwaves… each night has brought at least one memorable gem which is still remembered today. It has also been a story of CBS ratings domination.

This continues as we wrap up Friday night, thanks to the impressive The Wild, Wild West, Hogan’s Heroes, Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C. three-pete. Looking at the schedule around these shows, its littered with carnage. In truth, outside of those shows, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Peyton Place, every show on Friday nights was either in its last season or was a first season show that didn’t live to see another year.

We still have two nights to go! Looking ahead, Saturday night is going to be an interesting change of pace. So stay tuned as we turn our attention to weekend viewing!

Happy viewing!

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Kimberly Pierce View All

Podcaster at Hollywood and Wine, historian and filmmaker studying contributions of women in Classic TV. Film critic for Geek Girl Authority. Classic film lover for Ticklish Business.

You can find me on Twitter @kpierce624!

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