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Celebrity Bowling


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On 2/18/2018 at 10:02 AM, Luvsbway said:

The Nanette Fabrey, Marilyn Maxwell vs Patty Andrews, Barbara Nicholas episode was particularly crazy. 

Yes, that one was great, but my vote for the most unlikely "celebrity bowler" goes to Virginia Graham.

The fall of 1971 was the season that the FCC forced the three networks relinquish the 7:30-8:00 time slot.  It's hard to imagine the networks didn't have the clout to fight it.  Also hard to imagine: why the government was getting involved in such matters.  But remember Congress actually held HEARINGS about "the quiz show scandal" in the late 50s.   (For those who don't know, quiz shows were so popular that producers fed answers to contestants that were determined to be audience favorites, the highest profile quiz show celebrity being Charles Van Doran as depicted in the excellent movie "Quiz Show").   

Ostensibly the FCC was bowing to pressure from independent producers.  The latter wanted an outlet for their product.  This was supposed to open up the door for daring, innovative programming.  Instead we got many programs like "Celebrity Bowling" and reincarnations of practically every game show ever produced "The NEW Name That Tune".   The FCC did throw the networks a bone: they were allowed to keep the 7-8pm hour on Sunday nights.

Many series ended in 1971 mainly because the networks had to get rid of a total of 9 hours of their programming, the main instigator behind CBS's infamous "rural purge", cancelling shows that still had respectable ratings like "Beverly Hillbillies" and "Green Acres", however not the top 10 powerhouses they used to be. (Neither made the 70-71 Top 30 shows).  Also gone: "Mayberry RFD" (#15) "Hee Haw" (#16--you don't get any more rural than that one) and "The Jim Nabors Hour" (#29).  Rumor has it that "Here's Lucy" was also considered to be candidate for part of the purge, but in 70-71 HL was CBS's highest rated show, the highest rated comedy of any network,  but its demographics skewed older that it was no longer considered a hot ticket for advertiser dollars.   (HL's 3rd season, its highest rated, is my least favorite, you had "The Burtons", "Jack Benny's Biography", and  "Lucy Goes Hawaiian" but not much else)

71-72 saw the emergence of All in the Family as #1 ushering in a whole new type of sitcom: LOUD, "relevant"--if simplemindedly so (other than the stellar "Family"), and shot on videotape (not my cup of tea.  Videotape and sitcoms was not a good mix IMO. "Lucy Phones the President": need I say more?).  Eventually  "Mary Tyler Moore" (on film!) became  appreciated as more than your average sitcom, though that first season is more "That Girl"-ish than it's not. 

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