Wednesday, October 12, 2016

TV Time Machine: October 1966

It's still hard for me to accept (like many people growing older) that something which took place in 1966 was half a century ago. On the other hand, much has changed in fifty years. From the standpoint of the television industry, October 12, 1966 was a day in which some of the first Nielsen ratings of the new season were being evaluated.

Syndicated columnist Cynthia Lowry reported that ABC's war drama The Rat Patrol showed perhaps the greatest potential out of the gate, placing among TV's top ten shows. This was an especially impressive feat considering that it was in direct competition with a highly rated old favorite, The Lucy Show. Also doing well was Felony Squad, which followed The Rat Patrol on ABC's Monday night schedule. CBS' Family Affair, with a strong lead-in from The Andy Griffith Show, was shaping up as another popular hit.

Although based on only two weeks' worth of ratings, these early ratings were largely an accurate reflection of how the season would progress, with all three of these new shows going on to enjoy multi-season runs. Not quite so lucky was NBC's Occasional Wife, which also started strong but ultimately ran only one year. (See Lost Laughs of '50s and '60s Television for more on that show).

As for those shows at the other end of the ratings pile, Lowry cited The Milton Berle Show, NBC's sitcom Hey, Landlord!, and Burt Reynolds' cop drama Hawk as ones that were in for a struggle. Indeed, none would see a second season.

Still, the new shows of 1966 that debuted to poor ratings had a better shot at capturing viewers than they would today, when slow starters are often canceled after only two or three outings. So if you're enjoying some of the new shows of the 2016-17 season, watch them while you can. You never know.

No comments:

Post a Comment