I must have been 8 or 9 years old when "The Bold Ones" first premiered. The fact that the show aired on NBC Sunday nights at 10:00 meant that I should have been asleep for school the next day. I do remember that the subject matter of all four segments ("The New Doctors", "The Lawyers", "The Protectors" and "The Senator") was definitely for mature TV audiences. Considering the era of the late 1960s-early 1970s, when several TV programs started to evolve and created entertaining stories with some social significance, I can see why "The Bold Ones" was a partial success, at least by some critics but not to the general public. The series never ranked in the top 20 and two segments, "The Protectors" and "The Senator," lasted just one season.
In the past few months, the U.S. digital channel Retro Television Network (RTN) started to air numerous TV shows from the Universal/Revue television library. I'm very glad to rediscover "The Bold Ones" and, specifically, the multiple Emmy award-winning segment "The Senator" with Hal Holbrook playing the fair-minded, idealistic junior U.S. Senator Hays Stowe from an unidentified state.
As of this posting, I had a chance to revisit two episodes after over 38 years since their last airings. In "George Washington Told a Lie", a dam project proposed by Sen. Stowe is on land that would displace a group of Native Americans. In "The Day the Lion Died", Stowe confronts a fellow senator who might be suffering from a serious mental condition. With both episodes, especially the latter, which features an award-worthy performance by Will Geer as the eccentric senate member, I got the sense that the story telling quality was raised a few notches. The pace may have been slow but, at the same time, literate, deliberate and it did not insult my intelligence.
Looking at "The Senator" in 2008, it reminds me of some of the strong qualities of the more successful "The West Wing". It does make me wonder if Sen. Hays Stowe became candidate for U.S. President, would he still have that idealism or would he be corrupted. It is interesting to note that both shows won Emmys for best drama series. Once in a while, quality does triumph over quantity.
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