Capt. Spike Ryerson commands the squad of brave and hardworking firemen of Engine Company 23 in Los Angeles County. Like on "Emergency", the men often find themselves involved in rescuing people from dangerous situations--especially dangling from cliffs, skyscrapers, bridges, etc.Written by
Marty McKee <email@example.com>
ABC's answer to Emergency! In this short-lived series from the mid 1970's
In 1972, a crudely written but true-to-life book titled "Report from Engine Company 82" whose author was a real-life fireman and was based on the stories of the New York Fire Department shot to the top of the New York Times' Best Seller list. About a year and a half later, a crudely produced but hopefully true-to-life television series called Firehouse that premiered on the ABC-TV network in the fall of 1974. However,the producers and network executives at ABC were trying by the way to cash in on the success of another action-adventure related show called "Emergency!",which was on a rival network and also a top rated show that was produced by Jack Webb.
Was this coincidence? And where do you suppose TV producers find their inspirations? Well,for one the producers of this show were trying to do a revitalization basis and for one cashing in one of the top-rated action-adventure shows of the 1970's(which was Emergency!)and this wasn't the first time that ABC has done this neither. Back in the mid-1960's,the network tried to cash in on the success of "Bonanza"(which was on a rival network)with the western-adventure series "The Big Valley". But the short-lived series "Firehouse" was the network's answer to "Emergency!". However,before the series premiered,the pilot episode was seen as a two hour movie that was featured in January of 1973 on the ABC Movie Of The Week. On the strength of that pilot and the ratings it received,the network green-lighted it as a weekly series that ran on ABC-TV,producing 13 episodes from January 17,1974 to the series finale on August 1, 1974. The series was produced by Metromedia Productions in association with Spelling-Goldberg Productions(under the executive producer Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg in their first and only action-adventure series,since Aaron Spelling was known for high intense crime dramas then a show about a couple of fireman and their adventures).
What made this series stand out was the casting of actor James Drury. Drury was no stranger to series television since he was main star for nine seasons on "The Virginian"(which was on NBC from 1962-71),and also was known for playing Sheriff Tate for several episodes of the western series "Alias Smith and Jones" and other numerous roles. Also starring in this one as well as Richard Jaeckel who was a veteran of series shows including a series regular during several episodes of the 1960's TV series "Combat!". Drury portrayed the father figure to the young smoke-eaters of Engine Company 23. in this action drama laced with breathtaking adventure and high suspense. Each week they encountered various disasters and performed various rescues;one of the more interesting episodes of these was a man in traction whose house was about to slide off a hill. The firemen couldn't get into his room to maneuver him out without setting off the tilting house. In the conclusion which left some of its viewers in a cliffhanger---How did they get him out? In fact,the audience never got the chance to find out how they did accomplish such a dangerous task and within a week during the summer of 1974,the series was cancelled after 13 episodes.
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