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Outstanding and innovative espionage series...Remembering the original Mission:Impossible television series on its 50th anniversary, 16 September 2016

As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of one of the most innovative if not successful espionage television series of all time the original "Mission:Impossible" for the seven seasons it was on the air for 171 episodes held the record for the longest running espionage series in television history for over 35 years(about 10 more episodes than its nearest rival, the British-produced "The Avengers" with 161 episodes)until its astounding record was broken in 2010 by Kiefer Sutherland's "24" that surpassed it with 195 episodes. But what makes "Mission:Impossible" one of the greatest shows of all time? It was well- written with more intrigue and excitement if not suspenseful than any other show of its era with superb production, big-time guest stars and explosive action and high adventure each week that kept viewers tuned in(that was in an era loaded with a ton of espionage theme series but "Mission:Impossible" went beyond the norm of the regular "spy" show and took it to heights never before seen during its run).

"Mission:Impossible" was the created brainchild of Bruce Geller who was also the executive producer of the series along with producers Barry Crane, Joseph Gantman, Bruce Lansbury, Stanley Kallis, Laurence Heath, Allan Balter along with Robert E. Thompson and William Read Woodfield, that became one of the biggest hits of the mid-1960's and remained on the air as a CBS-TV staple throughout the early-1970's. The series chronicles the missions of a team of secret government agents known as the Impossible Missions Force that went after ruthless dictators, evil organizations in foreign lands and in later episodes taking on organized crime with the strictest attention to detail and timing in order to save the world.

About the cast...out of the 171 episodes of this series only actors Greg Morris(Barney Collier),and Peter Lupus(Willy Armitage)were the only main cast members that were with the series throughout its entire seven-year run. Steven Hill(Dan Briggs)appeared in 28 episodes of Season One only. Steven Hill was replaced by Peter Graves(Jim Phelps)from Seasons 2 through 7 for 143 episodes. Martin Landau(Rollin Hand)was in the first three seasons of the series for 76 episodes. Barbara Bain(Cinnamon Carter) was also in the first three seasons of the series for 78 episodes. Landau and Bain left at the end of the Season 3 and were replaced by Leonard Nimoy(Paris)in Season 4 for 49 episodes of the series. Nimoy left at the end of Season 6. Lesley Anne-Warren(Dana Lambert)came on board in Season 5 for 23 episodes and left at the end of its fifth season. Sam Elliott(Doug Roberts)join the cast in Season 5 for 13 episodes. Other IMF agents were Lynda Day-George(Lisa Casey) in Seasons 6 and 7 for 44 episodes,and Barbara Anderson(Mimi Davis)in seven episodes of Season 6.

The series was produced during the first two seasons by Desilu Productions from September,1966 to January,1968. From January,1968 until March,1973 the series was produced solely through Paramount Television. The original broadcast history of the series aired on CBS-TV from September 17,1966 until March 30,1973 producing 171 episodes all in color. Season 1 was on Saturday nights at the 9:00-10:00 time slot from September 17,1966 until January 7,1967. On January 14,1967 it moved to the 8:30-9:30 time slot until April 22,1967. From Seasons 2 through 4 aired on Sunday nights at the 10:00-11:00 time slot from September 10,1967 until March 29,1970. Season 5 saw the show move back to Saturday nights at the 7:30-8:30 time slot from September 19,1970 until March 17,1971. Season 6 also move the show to a later time slot on Saturday nights at the 10:00-11:00 time slot from September 18,1971 to December 9,1972 and again until February 26,1972 with repeats airing until August 30,1972. The seventh and final season of the series saw the show moved from Saturday nights to Friday nights in an earlier time slot from 8:00-9:00 in prime time from September 16,1972 until the final episode of the series on March 30,1973.

During its run the series was nominated for an impressive 15 Prime-Time Emmys winning 7 of them for Outstanding Acting, Outstanding Direction, and Outstanding Writing and won 3 Golden Globes for Best Television Series,Best Supporting Actor in a Television Series,and Best Actor in a Television Series and won the Edgar Award for Best Episode in a Television Series. "Mission:Impossible" was without a doubt a series with big time writers from Bruce Geller, Allan Balter, Paul Playdon, Kenneth Pettus, Stephen Kandel, Jackson Gillis and top-notch directors from Barry Crane, Paul Krasny, Lee H. Katzin, Leonard Horn, Alexander Singer,Virgil W. Vogel, Joesph Pevney, Marc Daniels,to Leslie H. Martinson, Sutton Roley, Paul Stanley and Alf Kjellin.

Big time guest stars from Ricardo Montalban, Cicely Tyson, William Marshall, Eartha Kitt, Fritz Weaver, Anthony Zerbe, John Vernon, Lloyd Bridges, Pernell Roberts, Lee Meriwether, Joan Collins, Edward Asner, Robert Conrad, Carl Betz, William Shatner, Bradford Dillman, Barbara Luna, to Malachi Throne, Antoinette Bower, William Windom, Wally Cox, Ed Nelson and James Daly just to name a few whose performances were both convincing and enjoyable during the show's seven season run on CBS.

"Mission:Impossible" also saw a remake of the TV-series in the late- 1980's with Peter Graves(that was on ABC from 1988-1990) in the cast and spun a series of seven theatrical films starring Tom Cruise beginning in 1996. Even 50 years later it was one of the best ever conceived for its era.

"Hazel" (1961)
America's most lovable housekeeper...Remembering the classic comedy series "Hazel" on it's 55th anniversary, 15 September 2016

For the five seasons that it was on the air,Oscar-winning actress Shirley Booth played an independent,opinionated,extremely talkative,in control housekeeper on "Hazel",but on the other end there was never a more lovable and respectable maid who became television's favorite.

Based on the popular single-panel comic strip by cartoonist Ted Key which appeared in the "Saturday Evening Post",the producers(James Fonda along with executive producers Harry Ackerman and William D. Russell for Screen Gems) took some of the harshness out of the cartoon character and replaced it with the warmth and wholesome family values that made "Hazel" a huge television hit for the early-1960's.

"Hazel" ran for five seasons on two major television networks running from 1961 to 1965 producing 154 episodes. The show aired during the first four seasons on NBC's Thursday night Prime-Time lineup from September 28,1961 until March 25,1965 for 125 episodes with the first season episodes in black and white producing 35 episodes(with the exception of "What'll We Watch Tonight",from Season 1,Episode 6 that was the only episode in its first season in color)airing from September 28,1961 until June 7,1962. The next three seasons of the series were "Brought To You In Living Color" for 90 episodes airing from September 20,1962 until March 25,1965(Seasons 2 thru 4). The fifth and final season saw the series moved from NBC to CBS for 29 color episodes airing from September 13,1965 until the final episode of the series on April 11,1966. The broadcast history of the series aired on NBC's Thursday night schedule for the first four seasons of the show's run at the 9:30 eastern/8:30 central time slot where it preceded "Dr. Kildare" from 1961-1965. After the series was canceled by NBC in the Spring of 1965 saw the series moved to CBS in its final season from Thursday nights to Monday nights at the 9:30 eastern/8:30 central time slot preceding "The Andy Griffith Show" in its prime time slot until April 11,1966.

Interesting point about the cast here only actors Shirley Booth and Bobby Buntrock were the only cast members of the series that stayed throughout its entire run and appeared in all 154 episodes. Actors Don De-Fore and Whitney Blake were the only cast members that appeared in 125 episodes in Seasons 1 thru 4 when the series aired on NBC from 1961- 1965. Both De-Fore and Blake left the series after the end of Season 4. In the final season of "Hazel" actors Ray Fulmer, Lynn Borden, and Julia Benjamin appeared in all 29 episodes in color when the series was on CBS from 1965-1966. During the first four seasons, "Hazel" was sponsored by the Ford Motor Company and during Season 4(the show's final season at NBC)was sponsored by The Bristol-Myers Corporation. In the show's final season the sponsors were The Proctor & Gamble Company and Philip Morris.

The show's first season placed fourth in the 1961-1962 Nielsen ratings. Actress Shirley Booth won two Prime-Time Emmys in 1962 and 1963 for Best Actress in a Series and was nominated for her third season in 1964. Booth also received a Golden Globe Nomination for Best Actress in a Television Series in 1964. Out of the 154 episodes that were produced William D. Russell directed 136 episodes of the series. Charles Barton directed 10 episodes while E.W. Swackhamer directed 7 episodes. Veteran director Hal Cooper was behind one episode. Outstanding writers for "Hazel" consisted of Ted Key(the show's creator for 153 episodes) along with Peggy Chantler Dick, Robert Riley Crutcher, Norm Liebmann, James Fonda, Dorothy Cooper, Phil Leslie, Keith Fowler, Louella MacFarlane, and R.S. Allen.

The notable guest stars that appeared on "Hazel" were Frank Gifford, Howard Smith, Cathy Lewis, Mala Powers, Alan Hale Junior, Ellen Corby, John Astin, Leif Erickson, Dick Sargent, Lee Meriwether, Claude Akins, Harvey Korman, Ken Berry, Parley Baer, William Schallert, Virginia Gregg, Malcolm Atterbury, James Doohan, Leo G. Carroll, to Sterling Holloway, Jack Dodson, Luciana Paluzzi, Gloria Henry, Eleanor Audley, Alan Hewitt, Jamie Farr, Hugh Marlowe, Dub Taylor, Harold Gould, and Oskar Homolka and Bonnie Franklin just to name a few of the guest stars that were on the show.

The first four seasons of "Hazel" saw huge ratings but when the series when to CBS in its final season it had fallen out of the top 30 programs and this is when the producers made numerous cast changes when lead to its abrupt cancellation in the Spring of 1966(the series was replaced in the fall of 1966 when CBS replaced it with the Don Fedderson produced series "Family Affair")

Good Wholesome Values and Morals...Remembering the classic "Family Affair" television series on its 50th anniversary, 15 September 2016

The television series "Family Affair" was the created brainchild of powerhouse producers Don Fedderson and Edmund L. Hartmann(who also served as executive producers of this series) who were also known for "My Three Sons",and "The Millionaire" television series along with producers Fred Henry, Edmund Beloin and Henry Garson that made "Family Affair" one of the most heartwarming comedy-drama series of the mid- 1960's. The series was one of CBS' most popular shows spanning five seasons and producing 138 episodes in color that premiered on CBS' Monday night prime-time schedule on September 12,1966 where it preceded "The Andy Griffith Show" and went opposite "Peyton Place",and "The Danny Thomas Comedy Hour". During its first three seasons the series aired on Monday nights at the 9:30 eastern/8:30 central time slot from 1966 to 1969. By the show's fourth season CBS moved the series from Monday nights to Thursday nights in an earlier time slot for its final two seasons(1969-1971) at the 7:30 eastern/6:30 central time slot until its cancellation on March 4,1971. "Family Affair" became so successful that CBS put the series on its daytime lineup schedule also known as "The Family Affair Morning Show" aka "The Brian Keith Show" which consisted of repeated episodes from various seasons airing from September 7,1970 until January 12,1973. Repeated episodes from the best of the series aired from March 11,1971 until September 10,1971.

"Family Affair" basically was a good series that had a "Disney" type theme to it that had a basic story-line, great actors, and impressive guest stars that made it not only fun to watch but made it one of the most popular heartwarming sitcoms of its era. The series chronicles the trials of a successful civil engineer and bachelor Bill Davis(Brian Keith)who life has suddenly changed when he learns that he is given custody of his brother's orphaned children in his luxury Fifth Avenue apartment in New York City. Davis' English Butler and counterpart Giles French(Sebastian Cabot) also had adjustments to make as well as he became the guardian and the second parent of caring for teenage daughter Cissy(Kathy Garver),and his brother's 6-year-old twins Jody(Johnny Whitaker),and Buffy(Anissa Jones) not to mention Buffy's treasure possession Mrs. Beasley her doll that was the heart of the show. This was a series that had basic "family values" and "morals" that was still on the airwaves that were successful during that era. Out of all the actors associated with the series only actors Brian Keith, Kathy Garver, Anissa Jones and Johnny Whitaker were the only cast members that stayed with the series throughout its entire run. Sebastian Cabot appeared in 130 episodes of the series. When Sebastian Cabot left the series for medical reasons, his brother Nigel French(John Williams) was introduced for nine episodes in 1967. In the show's final season Nancy Walker was added as a part-time housekeeper Mrs. Turner for six episodes for the 1970-1971 season.

Creators Don Fedderson along with Edmund L. Hartmann were writers for all 138 episodes of the series. Other outstanding writers that contribute were Henry Garson, Edmund Beloin, Austin and Irma Kalish, Elroy Schwartz, George Tibbles, Seaman Jacobs, Peggy Chantler Dick, Fred Fox, Joesph Hoffman, Phil Davis, and Phil Leslie among others. Charles Barton directed 106 episodes of the series while William D. Russell directed 31 episodes of the series. James Sheldon directed one episode. Notable guest stars consisted of child actors Eve Plumb, Erin Moran, Veronica Cartwright, Butch Patrick, Kym Karath and Pamelyn Ferdin. Other guest stars were June Lockhart, Robert Reed, Ida Lupino, Jamie Farr, Jackie Coogan, Joan Blondell, Sterling Holloway, James Hong, Brian Donlevy, Martha Hyer, Ann Sothern, Doris Singleton, Vic Tayback, Dana Andrews, Paul Fix and Lee Meriwether among the many who made guest appearances on the show.

As for some of the best episodes of "Family Affair" there were several that were very good if not downright dramatic with a hint of comedy. But I start with the show's pilot episode "Buffy" from Season 1. Other great episodes included "The Joiners"(Season 5,Episode 20), "The Substitute Teacher"(Season 3,Episode 5),"A Member of the Family"(Season 2,Episode 23), "Christmas Came a Little Early"(Season 3,Episode 7), "A Matter of Tonsils"(Season 2,Episode 22), "Oliver"(Season 3, Episode 6), "Mrs. Beasley,Where Are You?(Season 1, Episode 7), "Mr. French's Holiday" (Season 2,Episode 27), "Fat,Fat,The Water Rat"(Season 2, Episode 7),and "The Baby Sitters"(Season 2, Episode 29),and the two-part episode "Lost in Spain"(Season 3, Episodes 18 and 19) to name a few. During its five season run "Family Affair" was nominated for eight Prime-Time Emmys between 1967-1969 for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series,Outstanding Directorial Achievement and Outstanding Writing Achievement. Nominated in 1971 for the Golden Globe for Outstanding Television Series and nominated for Outstanding Actor in a Comedic Role(Brian Keith).

When the series was abruptly canceled in the Spring of 1971 after five seasons and 138 episodes,audiences started turning to more "realistic" and irreverent television shows that were more of a urban and gritter appeal and by that time it was "harder" to find a wholesome family oriented program that was not only family friendly but successful and "Family Affair" exceeding all expectations as a television series. The 2002 remake of this was not successful nor did it do right to the original show. Happy 50th anniversary.

Incredibly hilarious series from the people that bought you Happy Days. Remembering Laverne and Shirley on its golden 40th anniversary, 7 September 2016

Being this was the spin-off to the successful "Happy Days" television series the characters of Laverne and Shirley made their debut premiere in a classic episode "A Date With Fonzie"(Season 3,Episode 10) from the "Happy Days" television series that originally aired on November 11,1975 and from that episode Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams made an astounding impression. The lead characters were introduced in that episode as acquaintances of "The Fonz"(Henry Winkler). It was from that episode and due to the high ratings it achieve,the producers thought it would be a great idea to create a spin-off to "Happy Days" which was at the time the highest rated show on the air not to mention a colossal hit for ABC-TV(which had five of the top ten shows in the Nielsens).

"Laverne and Shirley" was the created brainchild of Garry Marshall along with Mark Rothman, Edward L. Milkis and Thomas L. Miller(who also served as executive producers of this series)along with producers Lowell Ganz, Jeff Franklin, Arthur Silver along with Mark Rothman and Milt Josefburg that premiered on ABC's Tuesday night prime time schedule on January 27,1976 as the mid-season replacement for "Welcome Back Kotter"(which moved to Thursday nights). The series from the first episode was a colossal hit becoming ABC's top-rated sitcom that lasted eight seasons and 178 episodes until May 10,1983. During its eight year-run it went through major changes as the network moved the show to different time slots. For the first four seasons it was on Tuesday nights from January 27,1976 until May 15,1979. Then in Season 5 it moved to Thursday nights from September 13,1979 until December 13,1979 and on January 7,1980 moved to Monday nights until February 11,1980 where it was losing viewers and falling ratings. Then for the next three seasons the network moved it back to its original Tuesday night time slot after "Happy Days" from January 26,1980 until May 10,1983.

Only actress Penny Marshall was with the series for all 178 episodes. Cindy Williams was with the series for 159 episodes from 1976-1982. Williams left the series at the end of Season 7 to pursue other interests. Other recurring characters included actors David L. Lander("Squiggy" for 156 episodes); Michael McKean("Lenny" for 150 episodes),and Eddie Mekka("The Big Ragoo" for 150 episodes). Phil Foster appeared in 149 episodes while actress Betty Garrett appeared in 97 episodes of the series. The series "Laverne and Shirley" started roughly in the same time period as "Happy Days" with the timeline starting in 1958 when the series began through 1967 when the series ended.

Several writers contribute to some of the hilarious hi-jinks and slapstick comedy each week ranging from Lowell Ganz, Garry Marshall, and Mark Rothman(who were the writers for all 178 episodes of the series) along with Jeff Franklin, David W. Duclon, Marc Sotkin, Milt Josefburg, Fred Fox, Ron Leavitt, Winifred Hervey, Babaloo Mandel, Bob Brunner,and Michael Warren. Big time directors ranging from James Burrows, John Tracy, Alan Rafkin, Howard Morris, Joel Zwick, Alan Myerson, Garry Marshall, Jay Sandrich, Jerry Paris, Carl Gottlieb, Chris Thompson, and Tom Trbovich just to name a few. The guest stars who made appearances on this series featured Vicki Lawrence, Ed Begley, Jr., Carrie Fisher, Ed Marinaro, Fred Willard, Billy Sands, Jay Leno, Michael Mann, Anjelica Huston, Laraine Newman, Robert Hays, Roger C. Carmel, Scatman Crothers, Charlene Tilton, Conrad Janis, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Howard Hesseman, Fabian, Pat Carroll, Hans Conried, Troy Donahue, Toni Basil, G.W. Bailey, Severn Darden, Scott Brady, Christopher Guest, Jerry Belson, to Carl Ballantine, Mark Harmon, Fred Dryer, Dennis Haysbert, Ted Danson, and Art Garfunkel. Even had cameos from Jim Lange and Ilene Graff too.

During the peak of the show's run "Laverne and Shirley" got there own Saturday Morning cartoon show that aired on ABC on October 10,1981 with Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams as the voices of there characters where it was part of "The Laverne & Shirley/Fonzie Hour". But with the original series the cast was electric not to mention the adequate writing and above average direction not to mention the slapstick antics made this show a solid ratings winner for the eight seasons it was on the air. Several great episodes do stand out here and I will start with the show's top ten which includes the two-part episodes "Murder on the Moose Jaw Express"(Season 5),"The Bardwell Caper"(Season 6), "We're In The Army Now"(Season 5). Other great episodes included "The Diner" (Season 5), "Look Before You Leap"(Season 2), "The Defiant One"(Season 7),and "Laverne and Shirley Meet Fabian"(Season 3). When the series was suddenly canceled by ABC in 1983 it faced strong competition of NBC's "The A-Team" that crushed it in the ratings. The series that replaced it in the fall of 1983 was "Foul Ups,Bleeps and Blunders" aka "The Dick Clark Show" on ABC's Tuesday night schedule.

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A Landmark Medical Series That Set The Tone For What Was To Follow...Remembering the Dr. Kildare television series on its 55th anniversary, 15 July 2016

Premiering on NBC's prime-time schedule on September 28,1961, "Dr. Kildare" became a widely successful television series that was based on the theatrical MGM "Dr. Kildare" movies starring Lew Ayres and Lionel Barrymore that were released in theaters during the 1930's and 1940's. There was also a successful radio version of "Dr. Kildare" that became a household name within itself even before it made the transition to television by the early-1960's. The television series quickly achieved success and made a star of Richard Chamberlain,who played the title role(along with an ABC medical drama "Ben Casey" that premiered at the same time but premiered a week after "Dr. Kildare" on October 2,1961)that inspired many television series dealing with the medical field.

Produced with the American Medical Association along with the Physicians Advisory Committee and the Hospital of the Good Samaritan of Greater Los Angeles for their valuable assistance the television series "Dr. Kildare" became one of the biggest prime-time successes at NBC produced a total of 191 episodes airing from September 28,1961 until August 30,1966. Out of the 191 episodes that were produced a total of 135 hour long episodes were in black and white for Seasons 1 thru 4 from September 28,1961 until May 11,1965(with the exception of "The Burning Sky" in Season 2 that was in color). Then on September 13,1965 for it's fifth and final season,the show went from it's hour long format to an half-hour weekly format and the series was now in color for 56 episodes airing from September 13,1965 until April 5,1966. Repeated episodes of it's fifth and final season continued in constant airings until August 30,1966. Seasons 1 thru 4 of "Dr. Kildare" were on Thursday nights in prime-time for NBC. The fifth and final season saw the series moved from Thursday nights to Tuesday nights for the remainder of it's run.

Under the creation of James Komack and producers Norman Felton and David Victor(who served as executive producers of this series under there production company Arena Productions/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Television and NBC),the series like the MGM film series of the same title(1938-1942) centered around the young intern Dr. Kildare(Richard Chamberlain) working at the fictional metropolitan "Blair General Hospital" to learn his profession,and dealing with not only the problems of the patients,but confronting medical issues while winning the respect of the Senior Dr. Leonard Gillespie(Raymond Massey) while surrounded by all artistic obstacles both personal and professional. The results of this series was riveting drama with big name guest stars to boot along with the superior writing. The result gave the series three Prime Time Emmy Nominations for Best New Series and Best Actor in a Television Series and won Richard Chamberlain the Golden Globe in 1963 for Best Outstanding Actor in a Television Series.

The list of big time writers for this series consisted of Gene Roddenberry, Douglas Benton, Don Brinkley, Sy Salkowitz, E. Jack Neuman, Arthur Weiss, Al C. Ward, Christopher Knopf, Edward J. Lakso, Chester Krumholz, Phillip Saltzman, William Bast, to Theodore Apstein, Louis S. Peterson, Jerry De Bono, and Jim Thompson. The big time list of directors who made "Dr. Kildare" a standard quality of great entertainment included Jack Arnold, Alvin Ganzer, Don Medford, Marc Daniels, Alf Kjellin, Leo Penn, Ida Lupino, Lawrence Dobkin, to John Brahm, John Newland, Herschel Daugherty, Sydney Pollack, James Goldstone, Alexander Singer, Boris Sagel, Paul Wendkos and David Friedkin along with James Komack, Richard C. Sarafian, Don Taylor and Elliott Silverstein.

In addition to the recurring characters including Ken Berry, Jud Taylor, Jean Inness, Robert Paget, Joan Patrick, John Napier and Cynthia Stone among others big name guest stars ranging from Leslie Nielsen, Lee Meriwether, Hayden Rourke, Diane Baker, William Shatner, Robert Redford, James Mason, Boris Karloff, Suzanne Pleshette, Robert Culp, Yvette Mimieux, Ricardo Montalban, Leonard Nimoy, Robert Vaughn, Ed Asner, to Sorrell Booke, James Best, Dick York, James Franciscus, Richard Beymer, Ross Martin, Donna Douglas, Fred Astaire, Barbara Parkins, William Schallert, Dean Jagger, James Earl Jones, Diana Sands, Gene Hackman, Greg Morris, Angie Dickinson, Kim Hunter, Carroll O'Connor, Basil Rathbone, Edgar Buchanan, Steven Hill, Anne Francis, Joanne Linville, Charles Bronson, Jack Lord, James Coburn, Burgess Meredith, Yvonne Craig, and George Kennedy.

Several great episodes of "Dr. Kildare" do stand out as brilliant and I will start the show's pilot episode "Twenty Four-Hours". Other great episodes "An Island Like A Peacock", "The Administrator", "An Ungodly Act", "One for the Road", "For The Living", "The Chemistry of Anger", the two-part "Tyger,Tyger", to "To Each His Own Prison", "The Good Luck Charm","Whoever Heard Of A Two-Headed Doll?","A Miracle For Margaret" just to name a few. The phenomenal success of "Dr. Kildare" was a landmark series for many reasons largely because it let audiences see for the first time a show that combined high drama and medical information that was unheard of when this series premiered in 1961. And it has been much imitated.

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The standard of a great medical series...Remembering "Ben Casey" television series on it's 55th anniversary, 24 June 2016

The year 1961 brought two outstanding medical dramas to television even though they aired only a week apart. One was "Dr. Kildare" that premiered over at NBC. The other was the medical drama series "Ben Casey" that premiered a week after "Dr. Kildare". "Ben Casey" upon its premiere on October 2,1961 became one of the biggest television hits at ABC spanning five seasons and 153 episodes all in black and white until March 21,1966. "Ben Casey" was just that...a gritty riveting medical drama that was so realistic that it brought on superior acting from it's guest stars not to mention the astounding writing and big production values made this show such a colossal hit and a ratings winner for ABC. Interesting note about this show...Actor Vince Edwards was discovered by Bing Crosby whose production company Bing Crosby Productions produced this series and was filmed at Desilu Studios. Vince Edwards took the character of "Ben Casey" and made him into one of the biggest television icons of the early-1960's. Vince Edwards appeared in all 153 episodes of the series. Veteran actor Sam Jaffe who played Casey's mentor and friend Dr. David Zorba appeared in 127 episodes of the series,and was replaced in the show's final two seasons by Franchot Tone(Dr. Niles Freeland),and also by Harry Landers(Dr. Ted Hoffman). "Ben Casey" came at a time when America was at a crossroads within itself especially with the subject of the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War, the confrontations in the Southern states against Jim Crow,and the sudden death of President John Kennedy.

Given the support and assistance from the American Medical Association which was behind some of the scenes during production, the series "Ben Casey" was groundbreaking for it's era with some tough issues and hard hitting drama especially with some of the medical issues that each week Dr. Casey and his staff at fictional Metro General Hospital had to face. The success of "Ben Casey" brought 11 Prime-Time Emmy Nominations winning the Prime-Time Emmy in 1963 for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role(Kim Stanley),and also Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role(Glenda Farrell)Big time name directors ranging from Leo Penn, Irvin Kershner, Sydney Pollack, John Meredyth-Lucas, Mark Rydell, Arthur Hiller, Alvin Ganzer, Marc Daniels, Richard C. Sarafian, Alan Crosland, to Jerry Lewis, Gerald Mayer and even Joesph Pevney and Paul Wendkos contribute to some of the great episodes not to mention superior writing from the show's creator(James E. Moser for all 153 episodes),along with Jack Laird, Chester Krumholz, Don Brinkley, Alvin Sargent, Al C. Ward, Lester Pine, Wilton Schiller, Ken Kolb, Harry Julian-Fink, Dean Riesner, Norman Katkov and William Bast.

Big name guest stars ranging from Peter Falk, Shelley Winters, Cesar Romero, Millie Perkins, Eddie Albert, Tom Bosley, Stella Stevens, Dick Clark, Mary Astor, Ricardo Montalban, Anne Francis, Davy Jones, Barry Sullivan, Bradford Dillman, Brett Somers to George C. Scott, Jerry Lewis, Roddy McDowell, Robert Culp, Greg Morris, Eartha Kitt, Percy Rodriguez, Antoinette Bower, Ellen Burstyn, Jack Warden, to Carroll O' Connor, James Best, Hari Rhodes, Peter Breck, Jack Klugman, Telly Savalas, Bruce Dern, Cliff Robertson, Beau Bridges, Sally Kellerman, Norman Fell, Neville Brand, Patricia Barry, Brooke Bundy, Suzanne Pleshette, Piper Laurie, and even Richard Basehart, Ray Walston, Larry Hovis, Ivan Dixon, Yvonne Craig, William Windom, Patricia Blair, Marlo Thomas, Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, Simon Oakland not to mention Tuesday Weld, Pippa Scott and James Caan and even Jerry Lewis and Sammy Davis,Jr. made a special guest appearances.

The best episodes from this Emmy award winning series starts with the pilot episode "To The Pure" to "I Remember A Lemon Tree", "The Sweet Kiss of Madness", "And If I Die", "A Little Fun to Match the Sorrow", "And Even Death Shall Die", "Behold a Pale Horse", "When You See An Evil Man", to the two-part "A Cardinal Act of Mercy". Other great episodes were "If There Were Dreams to Sell", "The Echo of a Silent Cheer", "A Certain Time, A Certain Darkness", "But Linda Only Smiled", "Courage At Three-AM", "A Woods Full of Question Marks", "Where Did All The Roses Go?", "Every Other Minute,It's The End of the World", "Dress My Doll Pretty", "In Case of Emergency,Cry Havoc","One Nation Indivisible" to "A Falcon's Eye, A Lion's Heart, A Girl's Hand", "The Fireman Who Raised Rabbits", "A Horse Named Stravinsky", "If You Play Your Cards Right,You Too Can Be A Loser", "Allie", "A Hundred More Pipers" to "Legacy from a Stranger" were some of the great episodes that this series produced.

"Ben Casey" premiered on ABC's Monday night schedule in Prime-Time from October 2,1961 until May 13, 1963. The network moved the series to Wednesday nights in Prime-Time from September 9, 1963 until April 22,1964 in favor of another produced Bing Crosby series "Breaking Point". "Ben Casey" went back to Monday nights on September 14, 1964 and remained until the final episode of the series on March 21,1966 after five seasons and 153 black and white episodes. When "Ben Casey" was canceled in the Spring of 1966, the series was replaced by the espionage British import series "The Avengers" on March 28,1966. In the fall of that year it would be replaced by the Western-adventure series "The Big Valley".

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Groundbreaking science fiction series that was in a league within itself. Commemorating Space:1999 on its 40th anniversary, 18 April 2016

On commemorating the 40th anniversary of this show this was at its time science fiction television of the highest order and it was an incredible blend of spectacular special effects,amazing sets along with some of the most fantastic,even metaphysical/mystical stories that put you in with the action amongst the wonders and horrors the Alphas were facing in the far reaches of outer space. The short-lived award winning science fiction series "SPACE:1999" was created and produced by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson who also served as executive producers of the series. The series was the last production by the partnership of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson and when it premiered in 1975 was the most expensive science fiction series produced for British television at the time it was made at a cost of $300,000 per episode. The first season was co-produced by the British television company ITC Productions and the Italian production company RAI Productions. The second season was produced only by ITC Productions. Before this series was made the partnership of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson were known for their children's action-adventure programs including "Fireball XL-5", "Stingray", "Thunderbirds!",and "Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons",and for there live-action produced shows that included the science-fiction drama "UFO",and their only live- action espionage/crime-drama series "The Protectors". "SPACE:1999" was originally pitched in the United States to all three major television networks(ABC,NBC,& CBS) with NBC expressing interest in the series as a mid-season replacement. As a result,all three major television networks rejected the offer. The series ended up in the United States shown in first-run national syndication for two seasons producing 48 episodes in color from September 4,1975 until November 12,1977. Out of the 48 episodes that this series produced, a total of 24 episodes were made from September 4,1975 until February 12,1976. Season 2 also produced 24 episodes in it's final season airing from September 4,1976 until November 12,1977. Gerry and Sylvia Anderson were executive producers throughout it's entire run. Former "Star Trek" producer Fred Freiburger was the producer for all of Season 2 and for all 24 episodes in it's final season.

The British produced series starred Martin Landau and Barbara Bain(of "Mission:Impossible" fame),and Canadian actor Barry Morse(of Quinn Martin's "The Fugitive") along with co-stars Nick Tate and Zienia Merton. Throughout the series entire run only actors Martin Landau and Barbara Bain along with Nick Tate and Zienia Merton remained with the exception of Barry Morse who appeared in all 24 episodes of Season 1. In the series second and final season actor Barry Morse was replaced by Catherine Schell. Also added to the cast for Season 2 were actors Tony Anholt, John Hug, and Jeffrey Kissoon. "SPACE:1999" drew a great deal of visual inspiration and technical expertise from Stanley Kubrick's 1968 theatrical film "2001: A Space Odyssey" along with the show's special effects director Brian Johnson who had previously worked on the "Thunderbirds!" television series and on Kubrick's theatrical film.

To basically get the idea of what "SPACE:1999" was about requires heavy viewing in spite of this was out of the ordinary when it came out in 1975. Season 1 of the series is highly recommended and I would highly recommend seeing the pilot episode "Breakaway" which sets the tone for what was to come. The original 24 episodes from Season 1 that were to follow were into a magnificent journey into the unknown reaches of space that gave viewers a retrospective that no other television series of this period has seen before or since. It was Britian's answer to "Star Trek" and "Lost In Space". An grand astounding achievement when it came out during the mid-1970's. The other episodes that stood out from Season 1 of the series were "A Matter of Life and Death", "Dragon's Domain", "End of Eternity", "Earthbound", "The Testament of Arkadia", "The Last Sunset", "Mission of the Darians", "Space Brain", and "The Alpha Child" just to name a few. The second and final season of the series also had some good episodes ranging from the two-part "The Bringers of Wonder", to other Season 2 episodes that followed included "Dorzak", "The Journey to Where", "The Immunity Syndrome", "The Metamorph", "The Seed of Destruction", "The Dorcons",and "The AB Chrysalis" and even "The Rules of Luton" were just a few of the good episodes in its second and final season. The rest of the episodes from Season 2 did not hold their own as the series basically stoop to the level of a Saturday Morning cartoon show. The guest stars ranged from some of the best British actors in the business ranging from Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Joan Collins, Sarah Douglas, Jeremy Kemp and Peter Bowles. When it was canceled in the fall of 1977 the series continued in syndicated repeats for some United States network affilate stations(where it was shown on late nights and weekends) until March of 1978.

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Hey, Hey We're The Monkees Commemorating on it's 50th anniversary, 25 March 2016

In 1963, producer Bob Rafelson came up with the idea while vacationing on tour with a band in Mexico for a television series about the adventures of a musical act. The exception of this idea was hard to come by,but by 1964 all of that changed with the music of the British invasion. "The Beatles" was all the rage and it changed the course of the American pop scene very quickly. Developing the idea for this series would be hard to come by not to mention a hard sell. Teaming up with the executive producer Bert Schneider at Screen Gems-Columbia Pictures,work was set out to develop the concept of the show which was loosely based on "The Beatles". Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider under there production company Raybert Productions with a script that was written by Paul Mazursky and Larry Tucker sold the series idea to the head of Screen Gems in August of 1965 with a pilot script called "The Monkeys". The idea for a television series about a fictional rock and roll group was developed as early as 1960,but had a hard time interesting anyone until 1965,by which time rock and roll music and the phenomenal success of "The Beatles" two movies "A Hard Days Night" (1964),and "Help!"(1965), was entrenched in pop culture with the British invasion of music scene sweeping the country. In September of 1965, trade publication newspapers ran and ad seeking "Folk and Roll Musicians-Singers for acting roles in a new television series". As many as 400 hopefuls showed up to be considered as one of "4 insane boys". Fourteen actors from the audition pool were brought back for screen tests and after audience research, Raybert Productions chose their final four.

The final four that were selected for this series were Mickey Dolenz(who had prior screen experience),Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith,and Peter Tork. The overall part of the show followed the adventures of a folk-rock band forever on the verge of stardom in which these four talented musicians lived together in a crazy apartment and were frequently drawn into the lives of California's many eccentrics. These adventures in which the boys were involved with were interrupted by songs(the songs were written by the best songwriters in the business consisting of Neil Diamond, Harry Nilsson, Carole King, and Boyce & Hart among others). As for the development of the series producers Rafelson and Schneider wanted the style of the series to reflect avant-grade techniques such as improvisation, quick cuts, jump cuts, breaking the fourth wall, and free-flowing loose narratives which was new to audiences at the time this television series premiered which included new techniques in editing and production.

Created by Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider(who also served as executive producers of the series),and produced by Ward Sylvester(Season 2 only), the television series "The Monkees" premiered on NBC's Monday night schedule in prime-time on September 12,1966 at the 7:30pm eastern/6:30pm central time slot in color and was produced Screen Gems/Raybert Productions. The show's sponsors throughout it's run were Kellogg's of Battle Creek(Kellogg's Cereals),and Yardley Fashions of London. Season 1 of the series aired on Monday nights preceding "I Dream of Jeannie" and opposite "The Iron Horse" and "Gilligan's Island" for 32 episodes in color airing from September 12,1966 until April 24,1967. Season 2 of the series also aired on Monday nights preceding "The Man From UNCLE", "Rowan and Martin's Laugh- In",and "The Danny Thomas Show" and opposite "Gunsmoke" and "Cowboy In Africa" for 25 episodes in color airing from September 11, 1967 until March 25,1968. A total of 58 color episodes were produced from September 12,1966 until March 25,1968 with repeated episodes airing from April 5,1968 until September 1, 1968. Only Mickey Dolenz, Peter Tork, Davy Jones and Michael Nesmith were the only original cast members that stayed with the series throughout it's entire two year prime time run on NBC.

Director James Frawley directed 28 episodes of the series including it's original pilot episode. Other directors for this series included Bob Rafelson, Alexander Singer, James Komack, Bruce Kessler, Russ Mayberry, David Winters not to mention even Mickey Dolenz and Peter Tork directed various episodes of the series. The writers included the team of Dee Caruso and Gerald Gardner(21 episodes), Stanley Z. Cherry, Bob Rafelson, Paul Mazursky, Bernie Orenstein, Mickey Dolenz, Stanley Ralph Ross, Larry Tucker, Elias Davis,and Neil Burstyn among others.

The guest stars that appeared on "The Monkees" were Bobby Sherman, Melody Patterson, Julie Newmar, Rose Marie, Peter Whitney, Lon Chaney, Jr., Arch Johnson, Vic Tayback, Heather North, Jeanne Arnold, Barton MacLane, Ben Wright, Stan Freberg, Harvey Lembeck, Henry Corden, Chips Rafferty, John Hoyt, Frank Zappa and a cameo appearance by Milton Berle. The best episodes from "The Monkees" were "The Devil and Peter Tork", "Monkey Versus Machine", "Dance, Monkey, Dance", "Your Friendly Neighborhood Kidnappers", "The Monkees Paw", "The Christmas Show","The Monkees On Tour"(which was a documentary style episode),"Monkees Manhattan Style", "I've Got A Little Song Here" among others. "The Monkees" won two Prime Time Emmy Awards in 1967 for Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy(James Frawley). After NBC canceled the series in the Spring of 1968 enjoyed a resurgence on Saturday morning television in repeated episodes. First it aired on CBS' Saturday morning schedule from September 13,1969 until September 2,1972. Then went over to ABC's Saturday morning schedule in repeats from September 9,1972 until August 8,1973. After it's run on network television the 58 original episodes aired in local syndication from 1975 until 1981. The cable music channel MTV brought back all 58 episodes in repeats on February 23,1986. The success of the original series rebooted a new version titled "The New Monkees" that premiered on MTV in 1987 and later in national syndication. Even after more than 50 years..."The Monkees" are still rock and rolling thanks to a new audience and a new generation who are hooked.

Great Adaptation and one of the many successful Irwin Allen produced action-adventure shows of the 1960's. The phenomenal "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea", 2 February 2016

Created and produced by Irwin Allen ,"Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" was ABC's long-running science fiction/adventure series based on the box office 1961 theatrical feature of the same name starring Walter Pidegon. The television series,based on the same name told the colorful exploits of the Seaview,which was the world's most technologically advanced nuclear powered submarine under the command of it's creator Admiral Harriman Nelson(Richard Basehart) of "The Nelson Institute of Marine Research". Harriman's second in command of the Seaview was Captain Lee Crane(David Hedison). Each week was explosive underwater adventure and suspense that kept viewers tuned in as the crew aboard The Seaview faced unpredictable dangers and save the world from espionagen invaders, diabolical villains, saboteurs, aliens from other lifeforms and some of the scariest sea monsters ever conceived for television.

"Voyage" premiered on ABC's Monday night schedule on September 14,1964 where 32 episodes from Season 1 only where in black and white until April 19,1965. Then on September 19,1965 in it's second season,the show moved from Monday nights to Sunday nights in an earlier time slot for 78 color episodes for the remainder of it's four-year run until March 31,1968 where it faced stiff competition opposite the long-running animal show "Lassie",and "The Wonderful World of Disney". "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" produced in all a total of 110 episodes airing between September 14,1964 until March 31,1968. Created by Irwin Allen under his production company and the first of the trilogy of action- adventure shows he would produced for the network(the others were "The Time Tunnel","The Land of the Giants",and "Swiss Family Robinson").

The series was nominated for 8 Prime Time Emmys and winning 4 Prime Time Emmys in 1965 for Outstanding Individual Achievements In Entertainment- Special Photographic Effects(L.B. Abbott); and again in 1966 for Special Photographic Effects(L.B. Abbott);Outstanding Cinematopgraphy(Winton C. Hoch), Art Direction(William J. Creber); Art Direction and Mechanical Special Effects(Robert A. Tait);and in 1967 for Film and Sound Editing(Don Hall, Dick LeGrand, Daniel Mandell, John Mills),and Photographic Special Effects(L.B. Abbott). Other Emmy nominations were for Sound Editing, Film Editing, Art Direction, and Special Effects.

Several big time directors ranging from Jus Addiss, Jerry Hopper, Sobey Martin, Harry Harris, Leonard Horn, Robert Sparr, Nathan Juran, Sutton Roley, James Goldstone, Laslo Benedek, Gerd Oswald, Tom Gries, Alex March, Alan Crosland, and even Irwin Allen(who directed the pilot episode).

Fantastic writers contribute to some of the great stories which include Irwin Allen(who wrote the pilot episode). Others were William Welch, Allan Balter, John Hawkins, Ward Hawkins, Harlan Ellison, Don Brinkley, Sidney Marshall, Robert Vincent, Alan Caillou, Shimon Wincelberg, to Sidney Ellis and William Read Woodfield along with George Reed and Peter Packer.

The guest star roster for "Voyage" includes big time Hollywood greats including Susan Flannery, Mark Slade, Linda Cristal, Henry Jones, Malachi Throne, Jan Merlin, Leslie Nielsen, Werner Klemperer, Michael Ansara, Lloyd Bochner, Ford Rainey, Kevin Hagen, James Doohan, Eddie Albert, Richard Carlson, Yvonne Craig, June Lockhart, Brooke Bundy, Carroll O'Connor, Viveca Lindfors, Edward Asner, Ina Balin, Gia Scala, Gary Merrill, Victor Buono, Karen Steele, J.D. Cannon, Warren Oates, to Arthur Hill, James Darren, John Lupton, Michael Dunn, Vincent Price, Don Matheson, Robert Duvall,and John McGiver.

The best episodes from this series starts with the pilot episode "Eleven Days To Zero"(which was basically filmed in color but telecast in black and white). Season 1 episodes include "The Sky Is Falling", "Submarine Sunk Here", "Doomsday", "The Saboteur", "The Price of Doom", "The Fear Makers", "The Traitor", "The Mist of Silence", "No Way Out", "The Secret of the Loch","The City Beneath The Sea",and "Mutiny". Season 2 episodes include "The Mechanical Man", "The Cyborg","The Death Ship", "Jonah and the Whale", "Leviathan", "The X-Factor",and "The Phantom Strikes". Season 3 episodes include "The Lost Bomb","The Day The World Ended","Death from the Past","The Creature", "The Wax Men", and "Deadly Invasion". The Fourth and Final Season best episodes were "Edge of Doom", "No Way Back", "Cave of the Dead", "The Man of Many Faces", "Savage Jungle", "The Death Clock", "Man-Beast", "Attack!", "The Rescue", and "The Secret of the Deep" along with "Fires of Death".

When it was abruptly canceled in the Spring of 1968 after four seasons and 110 episodes, ABC didn't waste any time in finding a replacement on it's Sunday night time slot which was another Irwin Allen produced series "Land of the Giants" that ran for two seasons and 51 episodes from 1968-1970.

"S.W.A.T." (1975)
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Commemorating the short-lived cop show "S.W.A.T." on it's 40th anniversary, 29 January 2016

The short-lived television series "S.W.A.T." was another successful action-packed police dramas that came from powerhouse television producer Aaron Spelling,and under the creation of Rick Husky, Lee Stanley,and Robert Hammer. Aaron Spelling served as executive producer of the series along with Leonard Goldberg under their production company Spelling-Goldberg Productions for ABC-TV. "S.W.A.T." actually was the spin-off of another successful Aaron Spelling produced series "The Rookies" where Steve Forrest was a guest star on that episode. "S.W.A.T." premiered as a mid-season replacement on ABC's prime time schedule on February 17,1975 and lasted a mere two seasons on the air until April 3,1976. A total of 37 color episodes were produced in which Season 1 consisted of 12 episodes produced airing between February 17, 1975 through May 26,1975. Season 2 consisted of 25 episodes produced airing between September 13,1975 through April 3, 1976. "S.W.A.T." basically premiered as a mid-season replacement for ABC's Monday Night Football where it faced competition between two prime-time CBS comedies "Maude",and "Rhoda"(which was the spin-off of The Mary Tyler Moore Show),and NBC's Monday Night at the Movies. The second and final season saw the series moved from Monday nights to Saturday nights where it again faced competition from two CBS comedies "The Mary Tyler Moore Show",and "The Bob Newhart Show" which clobbered it in the ratings along with NBC's Saturday Night at the Movies.

The premise of "S.W.A.T."(Special Weapons and Tactics Unit) consisted of a group of highly skilled men that were called on to tackle cases not to mention handle dangerous situations to intense for the police to handle. These quasi-military armed men worked for the Los Angeles Police Department and were all Vietnam Veterans(that fought in Vietnam) that were called on to handle situations in a precision style manner that had to be done with split second timing in order to save lives and take down the baddies or thugs as quickly as possible and bring them to justice. The series starred veteran actor Steve Forrest(of "The Baron" television series)as Lt. Hondo Harrelson the head man of operations. His second in command was Sgt. Deacon Kay(Rod Perry),and his back up in dangerous situations were Officer T.J. McCabe(James Coleman); Officer Luca(Mark Shera); and Officer Jim Street(Robert Urich).

"S.W.A.T." brought in big time directors,big time writers for some of the great episodes,and not to mention big time guest stars in various episodes ranging Sal Mineo, Christopher George, Cameron Mitchell, to Aldo Ray, Robert Loggia, Stuart Whitman, Leslie Nielsen, Mark Slade, William Windom, Farrah Fawcett, Don Stroud, Clint Young, Robert Webber, Carl Weathers, James Darren, Susan Dey, Rose Marie, Phil Silvers, to Michael Conrad, Lesley-Anne Warren, Tom Skerritt, Belinda Tolbert, to Simon Oakland, Loni Anderson, just to name a few of the guest stars that appeared in several episodes.

The best episodes from it's First Season starts off with the groundbreaking pilot episode "The Killing Ground". The other episodes that were not only dramatic but action-packed excitement consisted of "A Coven of Killers"(Season 1,Episode 2); "Pressure Cooker"(Season 1, Episode 4); "Jungle War"(Season 1, Episode 6); "Blind Man's Bluff" (Season 1, Episode 11); "Bravo Enigma"(Season 1, Episode 8); "Death Score"(Season 1, Episode 13);and "The Sole Survivors"(Season 1, Episode 12).

The best episodes from it's Second and Final Season consisted of the two-part season opener "The Deadly Tide",Parts 1 & 2(Season 2, Episodes 1 and 2). Others included "The Vendetta"(Season 2,Episode 6); "The Running Man",Parts 1 & 2(Season 2,Episodes 16 and 17); "The Soldier On The Hill"(Season 2,Episode 23); "Kill S.W.A.T"(Season 2,Episode 3),and the final episode of the series "Officer Luca,You're Dead!"(Season 2,Episode 25).

The series was known for it's opening theme song which became a top-ten hit for the R&B/Pop group Rhythm Heritage in 1976 that were certified Gold and was Grammy nominated that same year. As far as the television series itself was concerned, it premiered in a decade that was littered with detective dramas,and police shows and it was highly criticized for it's violent content that was a rarely with cop shows of the 1970's. When "S.W.A.T." was abruptly canceled in the Spring of 1976, the powers that be over at ABC didn't waste any time for it's replacement where another successful Aaron Spelling produced cop drama "Starsky and Hutch" took over on it's Saturday night prime time slot.

**This commentary was written on January 29,2016 in commemoration with the show's 40th anniversary that was timelined to be written on February 17, 2015.

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