Favorite one-season television shows

East Side, West Side

Thank goodness for Greg Burgas. He asked about our favorite one-season television shows. The trick is that some of these shows I haven’t seen since they aired decades ago, so my memories are largely about how I felt seeing the shows rather than the programs themselves.

I’m going to list them in chronological order, with their IMBD ratings.

Grindl 8.1
Sep 15 1963-Sep 13 1964 NBC Sun 8:30-9 pm
“Grindl [Imogene Coca] is an employee of Foster Temporary Service, and her boss Anson Foster [James Millhollin, a very recognizable character actor] accepts a variety of jobs for his employees. Grindl works at everything from babysitting to a theater ticket taker, but typically finds a unique way to accomplish her task.”
I recall this was very funny. Coca was on Your Show Of Shows in the 1950s with Sid Caesar, Carl Reiner, and Howard Morris. There were a bunch of short-lived programs between Disney and Bonanza that didn’t last very long.

Ahead of its time

East Side, West Side 8.8
Sep 23 1963-Sep 14 1964. CBS Mon 10-11 pm
“George C. Scott plays a dedicated, idealistic yet practical, compassionate social worker trying to solve the problems of his clients in the fascinating mix of cultures that makes up New York City.” Cicely Tyson played the office secretary Jane Foster, the rare non-comedic, non-music role by a black person. The show was probably too downbeat to last. What was I doing up that late on a school night when I was ten? It won an Emmy for best director, and six nominations, including Best Drama and Best Actor in a Drama.

He and She 8.2
Sep 6, 1967-Sep 1968 CBS Wed 9:30-10 pm
“Dick (Richard Benjamin) and Paula (Paula Prentiss) Hollister are a witty, sophisticated couple living in New York City. Dick is a comic-book artist who has become well-known for creating a superhero called Jetman, which has been turned into a TV show starring egocentric actor Oscar North (Jack Cassidy).”
It reminded me of The Dick Van Dyke Show, which had left the air a year earlier. The couple was married in real life. Reruns of the show aired on CBS in the summer of 1970.

“I am not a number.”

The Prisoner 8.5
Jun 1, 1968-Sep 1968 CBS Sat 7:30-8:30 pm
“After resigning, a secret agent is abducted and taken to what looks like an idyllic village but is really a bizarre prison. His warders demand information. He gives them nothing, but only tries to escape.”
The show aired in the UK in 1967. I don’t know if I watched it in ’68, or when CBS reran it on Thursdays in the summer of ’69. But I knew ABOUT it well before I saw it.

My World and Welcome To It 8.6
Sep 15 1969-Sep 1970 NBC Mon 7:30-8 pm
“John Monroe (William Windom) observes and comments on life, to the bemusement of his sensible wife Ellen (Joan Hotchkis) and intelligent, questioning daughter Lydia (Lisa Gerritsen). Monroe’s frequent daydreams and fantasies are usually based on material from New Yorker cartoonist James Thurber.”
I thought this was a great show! It won two Emmys, for Outstanding Comedy Series and Best Actor in a Comedy Series. It was rerun on CBS during the summer of 1972.

Five Emmys

The Bold Ones: The Senator 8.2
Sep 13 1970-Aug 22 1971 NBC Sun 10-11 pm
“Hays Stowe [Hal Holbrook] is a new senator who comes to Washington DC with his wife Erin and daughter Norma. He arrives full of optimism that being on the side of justice can help him change things for the better. His chief aide Jordan Boyle is there to assist him.”
This was a rotating series with The New Doctors and The Lawyers. It won five Emmys, including Outstanding Series – Drama, Best Actor in a Drama, plus directing, writing, and film editing. I LOVED Holbrook in this, and pretty much everything thereafter.

Paul Sand in Friends And Lovers 7.7
Sep 14 1974-Jan 4, 1975 CBS Sat 8:30-9 pm
“Shy, unassuming Robert Dreyfus is a Boston-based symphony violinist who is constantly falling in love. It never seems to work out so Robert generally hangs out with his brash brother Charlie (Michael Pataki) and his wife Janice (Penny Marshall).”
Despite airing between All In The Family and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, its ratings were OK, but not good enough for its prime time slot.

Mel Brooks

When Things Were Rotten 7.3
Sep 10 1975-Dec 24 1975 ABC Wed 8-8:30 pm
“This short-lived comedy in the style of Mel Brooks is set in Sherwood Forest, in which Robin Hood, Maid Marian, and Robin’s band of Merry Men are struggling heroically against their rotten foes, nasty Prince John and the Sheriff of Nottingham.”
It may have been silly, but I liked it. Starring Dick Gautier, Dick Van Patten, and Bernie Kopell.

The Associates 8.0
Sep 23, 1979-Apr 17, 1980 ABC Sun 8:30-9 (Sep-Oct 1979); Th 9:30-10 pm (Mar-Apr 1980)
“The working lives of three neophyte lawyers.” (Martin Short, Alley Mills, and Joe Regalbuto)
The firm was run by the crusty Emerson Marshall (Wilfrid Hyde-White). This show often shows up on these lists of great shows gone too soon, in this case, a mere 13 episodes.

Police Squad! 8.4
Mar 4 1982-Sep 1982 ABC Th various times
“Sight gags and non-sequiturs dominate this spoof of police dramas. The six episodes formed the basis for the very successful ‘Naked Gun’ film franchise.”
I recall laughing uncontrollably. It was nominated for two Emmys, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, and Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series. CBS reran the series in the summer of 1991.

The nineties

My So-Called Life 8.4
Aug 25, 1994-Jan 26, 1995 ABC Thu 8-9 pm
“A 15-year-old girl (Claire Danes) and her trials and tribulations of being a teenager and dealing with friends, guys, parents, and school.”
On Greg’s list. A very moving program. It was nominated for four Emmys, including Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, plus directing, writing, and the theme song.

Freaks And Geeks 8.8
Sep 25 1999-Nov 1999 NBC Sat 8-9 pm; Jan 2000-March 25, 2000 Mon 8-9 pm
“A high school mathlete (Linda Cardellini) starts hanging out with a group of burnouts while her younger brother (John Francis Daley) navigates his freshman year.”
I related HEAVILY to this show, which is on Greg’s list. It won an Emmy for Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series, and it was twice nominated for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series

If I had to pick a handful, it’d be:
5. Police Squad! 4. My World And Welcome To It 3. Freaks and Geeks 2. East Side, West Side 1. The Bold Ones: The Senator.

A helpful aid in this post was the ninth edition (2007) of The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present by Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh.

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