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In January 1972, "The Sixth Sense" began as a midseason replacement series on ABC and was a 60 minute episode per Saturday evening. (ABC had quickly dispatched most of their new shows that had begun earlier in September of '71.) While not a runaway hit by any stretch of the imagination,especially when your main audience would've been watching "Mission: Impossible" on CBS, the show was picked up for the following fall (in the same killer time slot)and was a distant memory by winter. While not nearly as subversive as "Kolchak" or even "The X Files," the series had a distinct flair for creepiness for early 1970s standards. Having seen some of the cut and paste jobs done in the syndication package, I can say without doubt that the show was much more interesting at its full 60 minute length. One hopes that with the new interest in old TV shows on DVD, Universal might dust off the sixty minute episodes for those of us who often championed shows without a prayer on ABC.
Created by writer Anthony Lawrence, after the 1971 TV movie "Sweet, Sweet Rachel", and supervised during the first season (the first thirteen episodes) as an executive story consultant, the framework of "The Sixth Sense" is detective story but with wild macabre elements throughout the ESP phantasmagoria: delirious visions, hallucinations, apparitions, delusions, nightmares, mind transfers, memories from strangers, premonitions. As in the tradition of the private eye helped by his secretary, Dr. Michael Rhodes is supported by assistant librarian Nancy Murphy who only stays during the first seven episodes. The show's first ambition is to introduce to the audience the paranormal by rational and scientifical means and therefore, Dr. Rhodes plays the edifying and idealistic College professor who encounters hostility and skepticism. Too rigid and anecdotal to turn into a success, "The Sixth Sense" displays good episodes as "The House That Cried Murder", "Lady, Lady, Take My Life" (featuring a psychic lynch mob), "Once Upon a Chilling". Actually, "The Sixth Sense" is the second attempt to spread the ESP genre, after the 1959 anthology "One Step Beyond"--hosted and directed by John Newland; Newland participated in three "Sixth Sense" episodes: "Dear, Joan, We're Going to Scare You to Death", "Through a Flame, Darkly" and "And Scream by the Light of the Moon, the Moon"--, but with a regular conventional character and an early 1970's psychedelic film-making style. Many directors from other Universal fantastic shows worked on "The Sixth Sense": John Badham, Jeff Corey, Daniel Haller and Barry Shear from "Night Gallery" and Allen Barron from "Kolchak, The Night Stalker".
The Sixth Sense was one of the very few TV series to delve into the psychic world as a dramatic one-hour show.Dr.Michael Rhodes(Gary Collins)is a university professor who would investigate psychic phenomena and the lives of those it affected.This was a cool show that created some eerie episodes that were best viewed with the lights out.While Rhodes was written as a rather one-dimensional character,Collins brought a warmth & intelligence to the part that made you like the guy.The ESP aspects of the show would be shrouded in a mystery-of-the-week plot.Haunted houses,visions,ghosts,premonitions,psychic powers,you could look forward to chills from such stuff each week.Sadly,the show was re-packaged to run as part of the reruns of the fine Night Gallery show.But they cut the one-hour series back to 30-minutes in doing so,which makes the half-hour episodes incomprehensible & rushed.Still,it was a creepy show for its era(1972)and it was able to do it within the restrictions & lack of imaginations of the network.The X-Files was able to take the concept much further & with the benefits of later day technology & fx.But The Sixth Sense walked the path earlier.
This show aired in the Fall Season of 1972-73 and was quickly forgotten,
probably due to it's genre (paranormal drama) and it's half-hour length.
centered on a professor (Gary Collins who actually acts in this) who
explored cases of the mind, e.g. ESP and telekinesis.
Sadly, no one really remembers this series and the fact that a popular movie came out with the exact name makes it even more of a rarity. Not a bad show, it will cause somewhat of an air of suspense, all in a bite-size package.
Fortunately, this series was reedited into the syndication package of "Night Gallery" (which itself was badly edited) and can be seen wherever half-hour segments of "Night Gallery" is being shown. The only difference is in the very beginning where the typeface is different and a few more credits given to Anthony Lawrence and one other person. There is still the Rod Serling prologue (which he was paid handsomely for) and even some paintings to accent these episodes. Not a bad fate for a half-forgotten TV show.
It's two-hour pilot, "Sweet Sweet Rachel," is often aired as a movie. If anyone has a copy of this pilot or some of the episodes, please email me. I would be very interested in completing my collection.
Not everyone has forgotten this short lived tv show. I remember it as very suspenseful and thought provoking. I was a junior in high school when it appeared and my classmates and I thought it was great. Unfortunately, not enough of the country felt likewise and it was cancelled quickly. However, it was intriguing to think that esp was possible. The show was well done but ahead of its' time. Today it would go over very well, as did the movie of the same name.
I was just a preteen in the early 70's, but I too fondly remember this show. I was into all things horror and scifi, and compared to Night Gallery, The Night Stalker, and a handful of others, none was as genuinely eerie as The Sixth Sense. ESP wasn't really about reading minds or predicting shapes on the backs of cards, but mostly about ghosts reaching out from the grave for one reason or another. That's about where the similarities with the Bruce Willis movie end. Well, that, and the creepiness factor. I imagine I'd be embarrassed by the early 70's production values if I saw it now, but it's still on my DVD release wish list. And to second another opinion read here, don't even bother with the episodes that were trimmed down to about 22 minutes for inclusion in the dying season of the Night Gallery--they were horrendous, incomprehensible, and totally lost the disturbing edge that was often built over the hour-long version.
It was indeed on in 1972, thought it was fall of 72. It was a
syndicated show i believe that it was on weekends on Channel 40 WHYN TV
back in those days. Channel 40 is still very much around today and is
known as WGGB in Springfield Mass. They were great for showing many
syndicated shows on Saturdays and on Sundays.
Yes, that is the first time i ever saw Gary Collins. His was a serious character on the show. They delved into the super natural and tried to solve cases of some sort. My mother and i loved the show and we watched it avidly!!! So it probably has more fans than you think. It was well written, well acted, and well presented!! I was 16 and a junior in high school back then. Good Memory!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It was based on an ABC Movie-of-the-Week, starring Stephanie Powers and
someone else (much older-and-chubbier than Gary Collins) as Dr. Rhodes.
My mother got me hooked on it because she was into that stuff, back then. Went to a discussion group called the Philosophers' Forum. And, as I was starting to read science fiction a lot, I instantly "dug it" (to use the parlance of the times)!
My favorite episode was entitled "Burn, Witch, Burn." In it, Rhodes' Uncle Michael is being haunted by what he thinks is the ghost of a witch burned at the stake by order of his Puritan ancestor. But, as the spirit resembles a modern-day (circa 1972) local girl, the latter winds up being put on trial for murder when the uncle is literally scared to death!
Rhodes puts her under regressive hypnosis, right there in the courtroom, and discovers the truth. That the "witch" was falsely-accused. And, that she "willed" all her collateral descendants to avenge her death, by killing all of the Puritan judge's descendants! In other words: a sort of disembodied post-hypnotic suggestion. Rhodes, of course, deprograms the girl, and she resumes a normal life.
I loved this episode so much, I later ordered the novelized teleplay through Arrow Book Club News.* Sadly, however, the original hour-long episodes have been butchered into 30-minute fillers for NIGHT GALLERY re-runs. Ah, well! At least, I have my memories. And, fond ones, they are.
*How many of you are old enough to remember that little scholastic organization?
I recall watching many episodes from this unique series and am
it does not yet seem to be available for purchase. I'd always wondered if
the last name of the ESP investigator (Dr. Rhodes) was a play on words in
that it matches the first two letters of the famous ESP Researcher of Duke
University, JB Rhine.
Each episode had its own challenge, with the good doctor having just enough manifested ESP ability to lead him along the trail of intrigue (remember those zoom-in close-ups of his eyes or ears, denoting his detecting psychic information pertaining to the case?)
I hadn't quite realized the other viewer's comments that at least some of the episodes apparently were repackaged in Serling's Night Gallery series, although I do recall at least one Sixth Sense episode appearing in a Night Gallery feature, yes.
One particular episode of intrigue involved master psychics seated around a table, with starry emblems floating or displayed about the darkened room, attempting to outwit Dr. Rhodes in his pursuit of their misuse of said abilities.
I think Gary Collins did a plausible job of taking the acting role seriously for this series, and would be delighted to obtain a copy of the entire series. Hopefully the original prints are still intact and available for said purpose?
I was just reading the previous comments about this show that no one saw it,
or no one remembers it, but I sure do. I was a kid at the time, but having
older sisters, I was made to watch some of the oddest things, Twilight Zone
and Night Gallery among them, and distinctly remember watching The Sixth
Sense. I can't recall any of the stories, though. I'm thinking that it was
from this program that the new cable series The Dead Zone is pulling some of
its power. I know, The Dead Zone is based on a book, but you still have to
The thing that I remember most about the show was the name of Dr. Rhodes. I had a horseback riding accident in a small Utah town when I was 10 (1974), and the doctor's name was... Dr. Rhodes. Injured and creeped out all at the same time. No wonder I'm warped. ;)
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