Life on a 1960's college campus, a few years before things got interesting
Jason Evers ("The Brain That Wouldn't Die") played Joseph Howe, an English professor at Channing University. Howe had been a "citizen soldier" during Korea and was writing the great American novel in his spare time. Henry Jones ("The Bad Seed") was the dean of Channing.
In one episode, Keir Dullea plays a sensitive, naive freshman with an overprotective mother. Keir's roommate at Channing is the smooth, confident sophomore Mark Goddard. Fellow student Joey Heatherton wraps Keir around her sexy little finger, and gets him to write her papers. Mark knows just how to treat Joey, but Keir has a breakdown from jealousy and attacks her. Keir leaves college for psychiatric treatment.
Don Gordon played a soldier back from Vietnam who is entering Channing. Don makes a pass at Jacqueline Scott, the sexy wife of older political science professor Wendell Corey.
Robert Lansing was a flamboyant, self pitying professor with a drinking problem.
Rip Torn was a perpetual graduate student with multiple degrees, who is having too good a time to leave Channing.
Stanley Rubin ("Bracken's World", "The Narrow Margin") was the executive producer. Jack Laird ( "Ben Casey", "Kojak") was the producer. Bob Rafelson ("Five Easy Pieces") was the associate producer.
The writing was often ambitious and provocative.
The guest stars were impressive: John Cassavetes, Peter Fonda, Michael Parks, George Segal, Chris Robinson, Joyce Bulifant, James Caan, Leslie Nielsen, Barbara Harris, Russ Tamblyn, Ralph Meeker, Telly Savalas and James Earl Jones.
I always thought Jason Evers had the looks and talent to be a fine series lead. He had a virile, straight forward style that reminded me a little of Ben Gazzara. Evers gave the best performance in "The Green Berets", much more interesting than stars John Wayne and David Janssen. Jason Evers might have made a good Joe Mannix. But this was his last chance at series stardom. Evers was the lead in the pilot for "The Young Lawyers", but early test audience reaction liked Zalman King but not Evers. Lee J. Cobb replaced Evers in the series.
"Channing" was an interesting failure, and a good companion piece to "Mr. Novak", which started the same year.
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