The Brainy Show That Died: Racial-and sexual- politics on Campus.
A fan of Agnes Moorehead put this episode on YouTube, and i just watched it. I will say that while this episode impressed me, it also made me realize why Channing wasn't a hit and has been quietly forgotten. First, the impressive parts. Intlligent, powerful acting. Agnes Moorehead was at her best as a brilliant Math professor. A lesser actress would have portrayed her as just another bitter spinster. Moorehead brought layers of meaning to her performance. James Earl Jones, then starting out his career was superb as a conflicted Black economist and intellectual. Leon Bibb, better known as a folk-singer, was also very good as the student whose future they clash over. The script was edgy ( the "n" word appeared ), provocative,( the racial and sexual tension was palpable.) and erudite ( References to John Kenneth Galbraith, Charles Sanders Pierce, and non-euclidean geometry, among other things.)
So, with all this going for it, why wasn't the show a hit? First of all, unlike most of the new frontier dramas, the focus was less on a character than on an institution- Channing College. Slattery's People had Slattery. Mr. Novak had Mr. Novak, Ben Casey had...well you get the idea. Even though Channing starred two excellent actors indeed in Jason Evers and Henry Jones, they were peripheral figures in this episode. Instead, the focus was on Channing itself, and all the men and women who taught and studied there. So, a lack of clear focus on the central characters may have been a factor. Another, of course, was that the show was just too erudite for the typical TV viewer. In another place, I mentioned that Jason Evers starred both in The Brain that Didn't Die and in A Brainy Show That Died. That might be an appropriate epitaph for Channing
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