The Complete Dictionary of Prime Time Network Television 1946 to Present

The Complete Dictionary of Prime Time Network Television 1946 to Present

by Tim Brooks, Earl Marsh

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Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
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1st ed

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The Complete Dictionary of Prime Time Network Television 1946 to Present

By Tim Brooks

Ballantine Books

Copyright © 1979 Tim Brooks
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0345282485

Chapter One


A&E (Network), see Arts & Entertainment Network

ABC ALBUM, see Plymouth Playhouse


FIRST TELECAST: February 21, 1949

LAST TELECAST: November 14, 1949


Feb 1949--Jun 1949, ABC Mon 8:30--9:00

Jul 1949--Oct 1949, ABC Mon 9:00--9:30

Oct 1949--Nov 1949, ABC Mon 9:30--10:00


Hal O'Halloran

Jack Stillwell

The National Barn Dance, begun in 1924 on radio station WLS, Chicago, and long a radio favorite, was carried on ABC television in 1949 as the ABC Barn Dance. Among the Barn Dance favorites appearing on this half-hour Monday night version were the Sage Riders instrumental quartet, Lulu Belle and Scotty, Cousin Tifford, the De Zurick Sisters (a yodeling duet), caller John Dolce, and comic Holly Swanson. The series was telecast from Chicago.

ABC COMEDY HOUR (Comedy/Variety)

FIRST TELECAST: January 12, 1972

LAST TELECAST: August 9, 1972


Jan 1972--Apr 1972, ABC Wed 8:30--9:30

Jun 1972--Aug 1972, ABC Wed 9:30--10:30


Rich Little

Frank Gorshin

George Kirby

Marilyn Michaels

Charlie Callas

Joe Baker

Fred Travalena

Most of the telecasts that were aired under the title ABC Comedy Hour featured a guest host plus a regular repertory company of impressionists called The Kopycats, listed above. (Fred Travalena replaced Charlie Callas in the company in mid-series.) The series also included a number of other comedy specials, among them two Friars' Roasts, an Alan King special, and an updated version of Hellzapoppin'. Reruns of the Kopycats episodes were aired during the summer of 1972 under the title ABC Comedy Hour Presents the Kopycats.

ABC COMEDY SPECIAL (Comedy Anthology)

FIRST TELECAST: June 6, 1986

LAST TELECAST: August 8, 1986


Jun 1986--Jul 1986, ABC Fri 9:30--10:00

Aug 1986, ABC Fri 9:00--10:00

A collection of pilots for comedies that did not make ABC's Fall 1986 schedule. Among those starring in this particular crop of "busted pilots" were Caroline McWilliams, Annie Potts, Blair Brown, Ted Bessell, Robert Klein, Madeline Kahn, and Pat Harrington.

ABC DRAMATIC SHORTS--1952--1953 (Dramatic Films)

ABC had problems in the early 1950s. It had fewer stations than NBC or CBS, few advertisers, and therefore little revenue with which to pay for new programming. In order just to stay on the air, the "other network" was forced to schedule dozens of low-budget quiz shows, interview programs, and documentary films (most obtained free from government and industry). Needless to say, this did not attract much of an audience to the network. In 1952 ABC tried an experiment. It assembled a package of several dozen low-budget 30-minute dramatic films, most of them made by MCA Films in Hollywood. Many of them had been seen on TV before, on ABC (Gruen Guild Theater), DuMont (Gruen Playhouse), and some even on NBC (Campbell Soundstage). These shopworn films were sprinkled liberally throughout the ABC schedule during the 1952--1953 season, on multiple "theater" series. Each film ran up to half a dozen times on different nights and on different series. Not every film would turn up on every series, but if you watched ABC long enough you would frequently get the impression that you had "seen that film before."

Most of the films were grade "B" productions, starring some Hollywood old-timers as well as lesser-known young actors and actresses (some of whom were to gain fame in later years). Among them were Buddy Ebsen, Raymond Burr, Cesar Romero, Ann Rutherford, Helen Parrish, Vincent Price, Anita Louise, Hans Conried, Cliff Arquette, Onslow Stevens, and many others. The scripts included mysteries (such as "The Cavorting Statue" with Cesar Romero), romantic tales ("A Little Pig Cried" with Frances Rafferty), and comedies.

Following is a list of the theater series among which the films rotated, mostly during 1952--1953. It is not guaranteed to be complete!


Dec 1952--Sep 1953, ABC Fri 9:00--9:30


Feb 1953--Sep 1953, ABC Thu 8:00--8:30


Jan 1953--Jul 1953, ABC Mon 8:30--9:00


Jan 1953--Sep 1953, ABC Wed 9:00--9:30


Jul 1953--Oct 1953, ABC Thu 10:30--11:00


May 1953--Aug 1953, ABC Wed 8:00--8:30


Jul 1953--Sep 1953, ABC Sun 6:30--7:00


Sep 1951--Dec 1951, ABC Thu 9:30--10:00


Jun 1953--Sep 1953, ABC Fri 9:30--10:00


Jan 1953--Sep 1953, ABC Wed 8:30--9:00


Dec 1952--Jan 1953, ABC Wed 7:30--8:00

Aug 1953--Sep 1953, ABC Tue 9:00--10:30 (3 films)


Oct 1952--Nov 1952, ABC Sun 9:00--9:30

Nov 1952--Jan 1953, ABC Wed/Sun 9:00--9:30

Jan 1953--Mar 1953, ABC Sun 7:30--8:00


Jul 1953--Sep 1953, ABC Mon 9:30--10:00


Jul 1953--Sep 1953, ABC Sun 7:30--8:00


Jun 1953--Sep 1953, ABC Thu 9:30--10:00


Jan 1953--Mar 1953, ABC Thu 9:00--9:30

May 1953--Jan 1953, ABC Sat 7:30--8:00


Jan 1953--Jul 1953, ABC Wed 8:00--8:30

Jul 1953--Sep 1953, ABC Mon 8:30--9:00


Jan 1953--Mar 1953, ABC Tue 8:30--9:30 (2 films)

ABC FAMILY CHANNEL, THE (Network) (General Entertainment Cable Network)


April 1977


84.7 million (79% U.S.)

This cable network has gone through some major changes during its long history. It was launched in 1977 as CBN, the Christian Broadcasting Network, and originally featured a heavy dose of religious programming. A vestige of that era remains on its schedule today in The 700 Club (q.v.), a Christian news and features magazine hosted by network founder Pat Robertson. Among CBN's drama series during the 1980s were Another Life (1981--1984), a Christian soap opera; and The Campbells (1986--1989), about a Scottish family in the Canadian wilderness in the 1830s. CBN's big production center in Virginia Beach, Virginia, said to be the largest facility in the world for the production of Christian TV programming, was dubbed the "Video Vatican."

The network gradually broadened its focus, acquiring a wide range of broadcast reruns, especially westerns but also including cartoons, game shows, and dramas (The Waltons, Rescue 911). In 1989, CBN was renamed the Family Channel. Although it promoted itself as the home of "positive-value, upbeat programming the whole family can enjoy," its schedule was hardly without violence, particularly in rerun westerns such as Gunsmoke, Bonanza, and The Young Riders. However, it generally avoided the contemporary sex and violence that is so widespread on broadcast channels. Family also became one of the more prolific producers of original series programming on cable, most of it light action/adventure emphasizing relationships and individual courage. There were also some sitcoms. Among its earlier series were Bordertown, Rin Tin Tin K-9 Cop, and Zorro; later entries included Big Brother Jake, Maniac Mansion, Snowy River: The MacGregor Saga, Madeline, and That's My Dog.

In 1998, Pat Robertson sold the network to Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, which operates the Fox Network and is known for precisely the kind of edgy (often sexy and violent) programming the Family Channel traditionally abhorred. Effective August 15, 1998, the name was changed to the Fox Family Channel, and there were major on-air changes--though not, initially at least, toward the kind of raunchy programming critics feared. Daytime was given over to cartoons and other kids' programming, while in the evening there were lightweight family shows including I Can't Believe You Said That (quiz), Show Me the Funny (videos), Life, Camera, Action! (more videos), Ohhh, Noooo! Mr. Bill Presents (English comedy sketches), and The New Addams Family (sitcom). There were also nightly movies, including some produced by the channel.

Later entries included Higher Ground, The Fearing Mind and the critically acclaimed State of Grace. None of these was terribly successful, and after only three years Fox sold the network to Disney/ABC, which in November 2001 renamed it the ABC Family Channel. It then began to air reruns of current ABC series such as Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Alias, According to Jim, Life with Bonnie, Less Than Perfect, Celebrity Mole and The Bachelor. It also produced some reality programs of its own, including The Last Resort (specials, 2002) and My Life Is a Sitcom (series, 2003).

The network first reached more than half of all U.S. television homes in June 1989, and its principal original evening series after that date (including those mentioned above) can be found in this book under their individual titles.

ABC FEATURE FILM, see Movies--Prior to 1961


FIRST TELECAST: June 7, 1991

LAST TELECAST: September 11, 1998


Jun 1991--Dec 1992, ABC Fri 12:00 midnight-- 1:00 a.m.

Jan 1993--Jan 1997, ABC Fri 12:05--12:35 a.m.

Jan 1997--Sep 1998, ABC Fri 12:35--1:05 a.m.


Madison Michele (1996--1998)

From 1973 to 1975, as part of its Wide World of Entertainment, ABC aired a series of late-night rock concerts called In Concert on Fridays (see under ABC Late Night). In 1991 the network revived the tradition as a stand-alone series. The performances were taped in stadiums all over the world and featured a mix of newer acts (Poison, George Michael, Sinead O'Connor, INXS, L.L. Cool J) and longer-established performers (Cher, the Grateful Dead, Judas Priest, the Scorpions, Phil Collins). Concert staging had grown a lot more elaborate since the 1970s. Poison leader Brett Michaels said at the premiere, "It's about time live rock & roll is returning to the airwaves, and this show will give fans the chance to see bands with all their sound and lights." There was no regular host until 1996, although General Hospital's Vanessa Marcil frequently handled the honors beginning in 1994.

The concerts were simulcast in stereo on the ABC radio networks. Originally titled ABC's In Concert, the series was renamed ABC In Concert in January, 1992.


FIRST TELECAST: June 4, 1994

LAST TELECAST: August 10, 1994


Jun 1994--Aug 1994, ABC Sat 11:30 p.m.--12:30 a.m.


Billy Dean

A companion program to Friday night's ABC In Concert rock series, featuring contemporary country artists such as Trisha Yearwood, Billy Ray Cyrus, Sawyer Brown, and Travis Tritt.


FIRST TELECAST: January 1, 1973

LAST TELECAST: October 21, 1982


Jan 1973--Nov 1979, ABC Mon--Fri 11:30--Conclusion

Nov 1979--Mar 1980, ABC Mon--Fri 11:50--Conclusion

Mar 1980--Jan 1981, ABC Mon--Thu 11:50--Conclusion 1 Fri 11:30--Conclusion

Jan 1981--Mar 1981, ABC Mon--Thu 12:00--Conclusion 1 Fri 11:30--Conclusion

Mar 1981--Oct 1982, ABC Mon--Fri 12:00--Conclusion

With the failure of Les Crane, Joey Bishop, or Dick Cavett to attract a substantial following for ABC in the late-night area, the network decided in 1973 to try a new tack. Johnny Carson could have the talk-show audience; ABC countered with a diversified potpourri that, it was hoped, would offer something of interest to everyone. ABC officially premiered Wide World of Entertainment on January 1, 1973, following a tryout run from November 21--December 8, 1972. There were nights, in fact whole weeks, with Cavett or Jack Paar hosting talk shows, but there were also comedy specials, mysteries, documentaries, rock-music shows, and just about anything else that could be done on a small budget. The first telecast was in two parts: "Let's Celebrate," a comedy-variety show starring Tony Roberts, followed by a short "Bedtime Story" in which a young married couple talked about their day as they prepared for bed. Other specials included "In Concert" (rock music), "Comedy News," Truman Capote interviewing convicts, and "The Roger Miller Show."

It soon became apparent that the improvisational comedy and offbeat specials were not attracting weary viewers, but the occasional mystery thrillers and TV-movie repeats were. Eventually these became the bulk of the presentations, followed in the later 1970s by reruns of prime-time series. With the change in program content, the umbrella title for this series was changed from ABC Wide World of Entertainment to ABC Late Night on January 12, 1976. During the fall, when ABC carried Monday Night Football, there was no ABC Late Night programming on that night.

Summarized below is a night-by-night history of ABC Late Night. In cases where there was a double feature on a given night, a semicolon is used to separate the first and second features. If more than one series alternated in the same time slot on different weeks, they are separated by a slash.<


Excerpted from Bth-Com Dir Prm '46-78 by Tim Brooks Copyright © 1979 by Tim Brooks. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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