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What’s on TV?: Saturday 1965

Transcript of Video is Below…

Hey, hey, hey! Kim here!  

I hate to say it, but we’re quickly running out of days of the week! Throughout the week, we’ve seen a very general trend showing CBS as the dominant force in 1965. This line-up of shows speaks for itself. 

Most viewers out there in TV land could probably hum the theme song to most of these shows. The collective pop culture memory of these shows has been solidified thanks to amazing syndication deals. That’s why we remember so many of these series…. Well, it’s another night and we have a new and interesting slate of shows to talk about. So, without further ado, let’s dive into Saturday night. 

7:30 PM

Jumping straight into the night, the night we start on a familiar title card. 

We talked about Shindig in the Thursday night video. The variety show was one of the many hitting the airwaves during 1965 catering to the ever expanding youth demographic. Rock and roll was growing and expanding and as I’ve said before, there was plenty hitting the market to appeal to teens. As I already mentioned, the show was canceled at midseason. 

As the middle of the year rolled around, ABC dropped in another series that we’ve heard a fair bit about over this week: The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. The series is still remembered as a titan of broadcasting. 

Even those who haven’t watched the show have likely heard that title. The domestic comedy continues to be an icon of the golden age of television. 

Meanwhile, over on CBS, they were also in variety show land with The Jackie Gleason Show. The series spotlighted Jackie Gleason who was a comedy icon by this point in his career. The had ran in various forms going as far back as 1949 on DuMont. It would continue– under different names, but much the same format– until 1970. 

Rounding out the first half hour, NBC jumped into the night with the half hour, family comedy Flipper

While the show didn’t enjoy a particularly long run– it ran between 1964 and 1967 on the network, I remember this one in my classic TV consciousness. The show starred Brian Kelly, Luke Halpin and Tommy Norden and followed the titular bottlenose dolphin and his adventures in Florida as the pet of a warden at a nature preserve and his two young sons. This is the second animal adventure we’ve seen on the schedule. We talked Daktari on our Tuesday night video. 

8:00 PM

As the half hour changed, CBS was airing the second half hour of The Jackie Gleason Show, leaving ABC and NBC going head to head with new programming. And it’s one of … those match-ups. Let’s start with the victor, shall we? 

We know that theme song. We know the head nod. I Dream of Jeannie is one of those shows that most of us– under a certain age– come out of the womb knowing. The show spotlighted Barbara Eden as a genie who falls in love with her astronaut “master”, played by Larry Hagman. The show also co-starred Bill Daily and Hayden Rorke. 1965 was the debut of the legendary show, but it would continue on the network until 1970. 

At this point in the night, ABC was starting to shift in their market a bit. You’ll see where I’m going with this… it does make sense. Airing opposite I Dream of Jeannie, the network ran a variety series The King Family Show. The show was based around The King Sisters, a popular sister act with a formidable music history going back to the big band era. The show had entered the line-up in January of 1965, but unfortunately wouldn’t last to see much of 1966. 

We’re all familiar with the show that took The King Family’s place…

We talked about The Donna Reed Show in our Thursday night video where it started the season. The show– like The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet— is one of those shows that is an icon of this era in television. 

The show would finish out its storied run in this time slot. 

8:30 PM

I told you the King Family Show lead in would make sense, and here it is. 

I was a kid who flipped on PBS. Who among us hasn’t heard of The Lawrence Welk Show in some form. This is another titan representative of this very specific era in television. It’s so iconic, Saturday Night Live once did this..

Lawrence Welk is one of those figures which feels to have always been on television. The show first made national airwaves in 1955 and it remained largely unchanged until 1971.

Meanwhile, NBC steps away from the pack a bit this evening with their next show. The combination of these shows are very much a clash of popular culture titans, luckily though, it’s doubtful there would have been alot of audience crossover. 

Get Smart was just debuting in 1965, but the Mel Brooks and Buck Henry helmed series quickly found its footing and established itself as a legendary series. The show starred Don Adams as secret agent Maxwell Smart– a role not that far removed from The Bill Dana Show— and Barbara Feldon as the “mod” object of his affection, Agent 99. The show would run for five seasons before its cancellation in 1970. 

Meanwhile, in a rare moment of struggle, CBS comes in third in the time-slot with a show we already discussed on the Friday night video. The network opened the TV season with the debut of legal drama The Trials of O’Brien. The show starred Peter Falk fresh off of film roles in The Great Race, Robin and the 7 Hoods and Pocketful of Miracles. The show ultimately struggled in the time-slot and was eventually relocated to Friday nights where it replaced the Richard Crenna led political drama Slattery’s People

The show was replaced in the time-slot by the British import Secret Agent starring Patrick McGoohan. 

9:00 PM

As the next half hour rolled around, ABC and CBS each were wrapping up the second half hour of their shows, leaving NBC free to begin Saturday Night at the Movies. The program would carry them through the rest of primetime. 

9:30 PM

While NBC enjoyed Saturday Night at the Movies, CBS and ABC went head to head with polar opposite programs. At least for a while. 

We’ve already discussed in this series how westerns were slowly working their way out by 1965. However, there were a couple stragglers. One of these was The Loner. The series starred perennial favorite Lloyd Bridges

Starring as a union calvary captain in the old west. The series, interestingly was created by The Twilight Zone titan Rod Serling. However, the show was cancelled in early 1966. The show was replaced in its time slot by a deeper cut of the game show genre, The Face is Familiar. The show was presented by Jack Whitaker and featured a celebrity contestant team–kind of like Password— trying to guess the identity of a jumbled celebrity face. The show was not renewed. 

Meanwhile, ABC followed Lawrence Welk with the second season of variety series Hollywood Palace. The long-running series would become a stalwart part of the Saturday night line-up with its rotating stable of guests hosts. 

10:00 PM

As the night came to a close, ABC was in the second half hour of showing The Hollywood Palace, while NBC still had another hour of Saturday Night at the Movies. So, CBS was all by their lonesome to air this little show. 

Gunsmoke is Gunsmoke. The show is a legend of television. In fact, it was only in the 2018 that the legendary western was unseated as the longest running primetime scripted series. As the 1965 TV season started, the show was in it’s eleventh season and it would go on to run another nine years. The series which starred James Arness as Marshall Matt Dillon had slid passed its first challenge in its ninth season when colorful series co-star Dennis Weaver left the show. It seems nothing could torpedo the legendary western. 

To Wrap Up…

As the week played out in 1965, we’ve grown to accept one thing… CBS was always on their game. Though, as the weekend rolled around, it seems things have flipped on their head. In fact, the night seems to be a head to head horserace between ABC and NBC– who for much of 1965 has been sitting in their own little corner. ABC had a strong line-up, particularly in early 1966 with the combination of The Donna Reed Show and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. However, both domestic sitcoms were grizzled old veterans and weren’t long for this world. Both shows were already classics by this point, but they were indicative of an earlier era of television. Both shows are hallmarks of the birth of television and by this point, the industry was changing and evolving with each passing year.  Meanwhile, NBC with the I Dream of Jeannie and Get Smart pairing shows a network finding their stride. While both series were only in their debut seasons, these are two shows which not only continued into long runs, they are both widely recognized as works of classic entertainment. Their stars became legends. So, when considering this line-up from a strictly historical perspective, I have to give the victory to NBC. 

So, we’re quickly coming to the end of this series with one more fascinating night. As we hit Sunday, there’s going to be alot to talk about and a host of long-running legends to consider.

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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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