Saturday, September 20, 2014

1964: An Amazing Year for Television!

In our last post, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the premiere of VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA, on September 14, 1964 – HERE.

But, to paraphrase that famous pig… That’s NOT all, folks!

A truly amazing number of great and memorable shows debuted in 1964, and let’s give some Blog-space to them as well: 




Sorry to put you behind those cartoon shows, Endora... but your title sequence WAS designed by Hanna-Barbera, after all!



And Hanna-Barbera’s literal INVENTION of the half-hour animated adventure series: JONNY QUEST.

Also, because our friend and contributor “Top Cat James” was good enough to add-on to my list in the comment thread of THIS POST from YOWP:





Feel free to mention any other beloved series 1964 debut not cited by TCJ or myself.    

What a year!  And 1965 and 1966 only get better, folks!   You can bet, when the time comes, I’ll be posting on those years as well.  


top_cat_james said...

Hey, thanks, Joe. Lots of other programs debuting that year, but mostly of them became one season obscurities. Two shows of note, Shindig!, and Peyton Place, I'll mention because they were both referenced in the final season of The Flintstones.The former had an entire episode built around it ("Shinrock A Go-Go").The latter was mentioned (as "Peytonrock Place") in "The Long, Long, Long, Weekend", in which Fred is informed that in the future, it is the only program available on TV (a poke at ABC, who was then airing it three nights a week).

Also, there was The Entertainers, a variety show hosted by Carol Burnett and Bob Newhart, which is noteworthy for being the TV debut of a member of its repertory company, Torcivia family favorite, Dom DeLuise.

I have to say, I'm not particularly looking forward to the '66 recap. Not because of the programming that premiered, since there's a lot of great shows there (I'm especially stoked for the forthcoming media retrospectives of The Monkees and Batman), but because 2016 will also be the fiftieth anniversary of *gasp*!


Joe Torcivia said...

In addition to your “additions”, TCJ, let’s not forget the CONTINUATION of such other classics (and denizens of my DVD collection) as, from Sunday to Saturday evenings: Bonanza, Wagon Train, My Favorite Martian, McHale’s Navy, The Fugitive, Burke’s Law, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Flintstones, Perry Mason, The Jack Benny Program, The Outer Limits, and Gunsmoke!

Oh, and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, which I *wish* was in my DVD collection, but Universal STILL hasn’t completed Alfred Hitchcock Presents!

That leaves me with but two comments:

1: I couldn’t have done that without a research book.

2: I must really enjoy my DVD collection!

(…But would enjoy it still more with a complete run of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour!)

Oh, and don’t sweat the “fiftieth anniversary of you”. Mine was a few years back, and it hasn’t harmed me none… um, I guess. …Er, what were we talking about again?

Bruce Kanin said...

Joe & TC_James,

I'd say that the early sixties began the Silver Age of Television. It was akin to the Silver Age of Comics, although that began in the late fifties and ran until, arguably, the late sixties. TV's Silver Age was shorter, in my book, or television.

I find it fascinating to see how TV evolved in the 50s, 60s and 70s (and, well, beyond). ALL IN THE FAMILY, which debuted in the late 60s, would never have "flown" earlier in the decade and certainly not in the 50s.

Can you imagine if an announcer said the following during the closing credits of LEAVE IT TO BEAVER?

"Next week, Beaver's pet frog escapes in class while Ward & Wally are cornered into playing golf with Fred & Lumpy Rutherford. Coming up next, Archie insults a Jew, Italian and Black all within five minutes while Edith goes through menopause and Mike & Gloria 'get it on' in the basement, on 'All in the Family'".

No ... they would not have mixed well. That's why TV needed to evolve. Even STAR TREK had trouble addressing sex in "Amok Time" when Mr. Spock himself has to dance around it by referring to his mating ritual as "biology", with Kirk bringing up the birds and the bees. ALL IN THE FAMILY and shows in the 70s would've cut to the chase.

How did I go off on this tangent ?!?



Joe Torcivia said...


Given the huge burst of imagination that marked both the Silver Age of Comics AND the “Silver Age of Television” (as you so nicely dub it), it’s easy to see how one might equate the two!

Wonder why that designation didn’t naturally evolve – and stick! Every “Golden Age” should have a “Silver Age”!

If Milton Berle represented the “Golden Age”, why did not BATMAN '66 represent a corresponding “Silver Age”

LOL on that Beaver and Archie back-to-back! I guess we needed those classic sixties shows to act as a natural buffer between eras!

And feel free to “go off on more tangents” like that, anytime!

TC said...

Jonny Quest seemed scary when I was six. I'm sure it was no more violent than Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea or The Man from U.N.C.L.E., but those were live action shows. I probably tended to associate animated cartoons with light comedy in general and "funny animals" in particular. Of course, in 1966-67, in the wake of the Batman fad, "serious" action-adventure cartoons, including super-heroes, became common.

Gomer Pyle USMC was a spinoff from the Andy Griffith Show. Its premise of a naive country boy in the military was probably influenced by the play (and movie) No Time for Sergeants, which had starred Griffith.

U.N.C.L.E., obviously, was a product of the spy-fi boom in the mid-1960's. Every producer in Hollywood seemed to be jumping on the James Bond bandwagon. By 1965-66, the spy fad was influencing comic books as well, with S.H.I.E.L.D. and T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Even Blackhawk became an agent for "G.E.O.R.G.E.," about which the less said, the better. Naturally, as with any fad, there were lots of satires and spoofs: the Inferior Five met the men from C.O.U.S.I.N.F.R.E.D., and the Three Stooges, in a Gold Key comic, became agents for N.E.P.H.E.W.

I wonder if The Munsters and The Addams Family might have been some sort of backlash against all the ultra-wholesome sitcoms of the early-to-mid 1960's (Ozzie and Harriet, Donna Reed, Leave It to Beaver, My Three Sons). Similarly, Married With Children and The Simpsons may have been a reaction to the "traditional family values" trend of the 1980's.

I remember the Magoo series with him portraying characters in literary classics: Gunga Din, William Tell, Treasure Island, Three Musketeers, Captain Kidd. That was another series that probably seemed more violent than it really was, because of expectations.

I seem to recall Linus the Lionhearted from comic books, but not from animated cartoons. (The same goes for Loopy de Loop).

And I definitely recall Underdog and Hoppity Hooper (and "Uncle" Waldo and Fillmore) from Saturday cartoons on TV, but it seems like I saw them years later, around 1966-67. My memory may be playing tricks with dates, but I think some Jay Ward and/or Total Television cartoons were later rerun in various assorted "packages."

Joe Torcivia said...


JONNY QUEST seemed scary because nothing like it had ever been seen before! At least, that’s how it was for me. And, what a fine (nay, historic) job by Hanna-Barbera, breaking as far from their traditional mold as was then-possible, to do so!

Even once superhero / adventure cartoons started up in 1966-1967, recall they were still in the mode of the funny animal series that preceded them. That is, three cartoons per half-hour. Certainly, that was the case with both Filmation’s THE NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN and Hanna-Barbera’s SPACE GHOST AND DINO BOY. Even the less serious “transition series” FRANKENSTEIN JR. AND THE IMPOSSIBLES was produced in that format. THE HERCULOIDS upped the ante to TWO cartoons per half-hour, in 1967-1698, but the format was still struggling to break the bonds of its own history.

That same season, THE SUPERMAN / AQUAMAN HOUR OF ADVENTURE was merely a 60 minute block of standard length cartoons. Other series, like MOBY DICK AND THE MIGHTY MIGHTOR retained the three-cartoons-per-half-hour format.

Baby steps were taken in 1968-1969 with THE BATMAN / SUPERMAN HOUR, when the lead feature for both BATMAN and SUPERMAN were expanded to TWO-PART length. But, only half a season’s worth of such SUPERMAN stories were produced by Flimation – and standard, shorter-length cartoons of BATMAN, SUPERMAN, and SUPERBOY (previous season repeats of the latter two) filled-out the block.

BTW, SUPERBOY (from THE NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN) would appear to be the only sixties-era Filmation / DC Comics series still not officially released on DVD. I can’t help but believe there are still residual legal issues between Warner Bros. / DC and the Siegel and Schuster families that have prevented that.

It appears that SCOOBY-DOO WHERE ARE YOU, premiering in the 1969-1970 season, might have actually been the next half-hour animated adventure series, albeit with a definite comedic bent. But, enough of them sure followed in its wake – from Filmation’s STAR TREK ANIMATED and H-B’s metric ton of “other teen mystery-solver / Scooby-clone” series, thru shows like DUCKTALES and the Bruce Timm-produced DC Comics series, and everything that followed or surrounded them.

As we noted elsewhere, spies were once as thick as flies.

Yeah, maybe the Cleavers, Nelsons, et al, DID beget the families Munster and Addams! And, the Bundys and earliest version of The Simpsons MIGHT BE considered the “monsters” of their day!

Linus had only one comic book (from Gold Key), and Loopy had none, save occasional guest appearances! But, their appearances in that format DID make their impression, didn’t they?

I’m sure HOPPITY HOOPER was still running as such (…or, under the title of UNCLE WALDO) in the 1967-1968 season, either still on Sat AM, or maybe Sunday, by then. That was probably the last run, though, if my recollections are correct. And, yes, the Jay Ward and Total Television series have pretty much been combined, with all the grace and dexterity of Dr. Frankenstein wielding a veg-o-matic blender, ever since.

scarecrow33 said...


You left off one of my favorites: Flipper, which also debuted in the 1964 season.

Speaking of which, the camera work in Flipper seems more advanced (more "modern") than many other shows of the same era. That plus the fact that the show was shot in color makes it appear light-years ahead of some of the other shows that were still being filmed in black-and-white.

Elaine said...

Huh...Addams Family and Munsters debuted in the same year? I've always thought that Munsters was sort of a knock-off, inspired by Addams Family's popularity. My brothers and I watched Addams Family and not Munsters (which we thought was stupid by comparison). But in adulthood I made a friend who said she loved Munsters; she had an abusive father and thought as a child that Herman Munster was the nicest father on television. Very sweet, caring, nonthreatening. So, not entirely a contrast to the earlier, wholesome family sitcoms, TC! Though of course I get what you mean.

Joe Torcivia said...


Sorry to both you and Flipper. I knew I’d leave something out. I just surveyed my DVD collection, and added “things I’d like to have, if they were released”, like PETER POTAMUS and THE ALFRED HITCHCOCK HOUR.

Color still had not largely taken-hold by 1964, so FLIPPER must have looked wonderful back then – at least if the concurrent episodes of BONANZA (also NBC) are any indication.

Joe Torcivia said...


THE MUNSTERS and THE ADDAMS FAMILY both premiered in Fall 1964. I was there, and can swear to it. (Not that “then-little kids” should swear!) THE ADDAMS FAMILY may have SEEMED as if it were around longer, due to the existence of the magazine cartoons by Charles Addams - and maybe even because of familiarity with the "J. Evil Scientist Family" from repeated viewings of Hanna-Barbera cartoons.

While different in approach (…and on any given day – or at any given moment – you can ask me which one was funnier overall, and I’d probably have a different answer each time), THE MUNSTERS and THE ADDAMS FAMILY were two distinctly different versions of the same thing – not unlike MARRIED WITH CHILDREN and the very early SIMPSONS.

In keeping with their parallel lives, both THE MUNSTERS and THE ADDAMS FAMILY also left us by Fall 1966, each having a two-year run – of the SAME two years.

And, you know what? I’ve got to agree with your friend about Herman! I’d sure take him over the more eccentric Gomez. My choice of a “TV-Dad” would have been Guy Williams (Professor John Robinson) of LOST IN SPACE, but I can definitely “get” your friend’s point of view.

TC said...

Well, I didn't mean to imply that the Munsters were not nice people. :) They weren't really that different from the Cleavers and the Nelsons in attitude, but the sheer weirdness of the situations that they got into was a contrast to those earlier sitcoms, which were "normal" to an almost abnormal degree.

I didn't know that the Munsters and Addams Family premiered the same year, although I remembered them as running at about the same time.

I've heard a theory that comparing the two shows is a sort of Rorschach test; which one you prefer says something about your personality type. The populist in me likes the working class Munsters (Herman giving his wife a peck on the cheek as he leaves to go to his job) to the idle rich Addams family (Gomez leering over his stock market ticker tape). And, yes, Herman may well have been the nicest father on TV.

Joe Torcivia said...

Oh, I never thought of The Munsters as “not nice people”, TC. Quite the contrary, in fact.

And, THEY regarded themselves as perfectly normal, often wondering what was wrong with everyone else. The Addams did too. There, was a commonality in the two series.

I never thought of the two families in terms of working class vs. idle rich, but yeah! I guess that “Makes Mine Munster”! That may tell you something about me.

Besides, Herman really is a great father. Especially so, with the then-recent phasing-out of all those Ward Cleaver, Ozzie Nelson, and Jim Anderson types – let alone H-B’s “Doggie Daddy”. Steve Douglass may have been his main competition.

In the Munsters post I linked to in this post, Herman is even reading comic books with Eddie (as I would have done), while Gomez is probably blowing-up his model trains. I really liked those Addams train wrecks, however, so that may tell you something else about me!

Elaine said...

One thing I appreciate about the Addams Family is that Gomez found his *wife* sexy!! Not a feature of the average sitcom marriage. In fact, can y'all think of another sitcom (Golden or Silver Age) where the husband found the wife sexy? Hmm, maybe when she's a genie bimbo...though even then, when the viewer is supposed to see the wife as sexy, I don't think we ever saw the husband do the sort of "sweetheart, you drive me crazy with desire" routines that Gomez did with Morticia. Maybe that's because the oddball nature of the Addams Family made it possible to represent sexual desire in a G-rated way. Though, why couldn't other sitcom husbands break out into French or Italian? Anyway, it kind of made me hopeful about longterm fun with one's legally wedded spouse.

Joe Torcivia said...

That’s another great observation, Elaine!

It probably WAS the oddball nature of Gomez and Morticia that got that “wild desire thing” past the censors of the day! It was likely viewed as just another Addams eccentricity, and got lost somewhere between Thing and Cousin It.

Samantha and Darrin, on BEWITCHED, outwardly expressed affection too – certainly in the earlier episodes that I’m working my way through now, while Tony Nelson inexplicably downplayed it with Jeannie – most likely at the wishes of NBC BS&P. But, even on BEWITCHED, it was normal and (…hate to use the word, but) “ordinary” affection, despite the supernatural hijinks that may have driven the rest of the episode.

But, Gomez and Morticia really did have their fun, didn’t they! You could sense it! And I, for one, have always believed that two people who truly love each other for the long haul can be that way always – and I continue to live by and act upon that belief!

…Never realized I picked it up from Gomez and Morticia, though! Just another reason to love sixties TV – as if I needed more!

top_cat_james said...

...Can y'all think of another sitcom (Golden or Silver Age) where the husband found the wife sexy?

Yeah, I think I can help you out a bit with that.

How about George Jetson drooling and panting over his spouse when she competed disguised in the Miss Solar System pageant, over all the other contestants?

Or Oliver and Lisa Douglas of Green Acres, who always appeared to have a more passionate relationship than was typical for the era. In fact, most of their episodes ended with the two together in bed. Perhaps their paranoia over their closet wall suddenly sliding open with an unwanted visitor kept them from further marital relations.

And lets not forget All in the Family's Micheal "Meathead" Stivic, whose overactive libido towards his wife was a constant source of aggravation to father-in-law Archie.

Aside from these examples, I've always sensed that a lot of golden/silver age TV hubbies - as disparate as Fred Flintstone, Rob Petrie, and Herman Munster - were very open in their appreciation of their wives' sex appeal, and that each one of them thought they were the luckiest guy in the world.

Joe Torcivia said...


Good examples all, but I think I’d put Mike and Gloria in a different era than the rest… a “different era” that they helped usher in! You could even take it back to Lucy and Ricky – but not Ethel and Fred!

There was an overall pro-domestic bliss vibe to TV at that time, and that was something I liked.

But, I’d say that whole “spontaneously out of control, stimulated by language, up the arm kissing thing” was unique to Gomez and Morticia!

TC said...

I agree that the oddball nature of the Addams Family allowed them to portray passionate love-making in an acceptable way.

Similarly, Looney Tunes cartoons may have been as violent as "Gunsmoke" or "The Untouchables," but they could get away with it because it was exaggerated fantasy violence. And "Hogan's Heroes" and "Get Smart" may have racked up a higher body count than "Mission: Impossible" and "The Rat Patrol," but the sitcoms didn't seem as violent, because their espionage and sabotage missions were played for comic effect.

scarecrow33 said...

Not Ethel and Fred?

Check out episode 141 "Second Honeymoon" in which the sea air serves to heat up the Mertz' romance. Lucy gets quite envious of their sudden sparks.

Also a few Flintstones episodes end on a suggestive note--"Dial S for Suspicion" comes to mind, as well as "Fred Flintstone Woos Again," among several others.

And leave us not forget Ralph Kramden with his frequent "Baby, you're the greatest!"

Agreed--not as overt as the Addams, but still, a nice "adult" yet not offensive way to close out a story.

Joe Torcivia said...


That’s the secret. It’s all in the packaging!

Certain shows, or genres, will be more closely watched than others. Even LOST IN SPACE had the occasional violent death, including one alien run through with a spear and another electrocuted. Mostly, though, they were just killed (…pardon me: “destroyed”) in an explosive cloud of smoke.

Joe Torcivia said...


Even Ethel and Fred can have an “off day”! But, when THEY have an “off day”, it’s a good thing!

…And, on the OPPOSITE END of the Flintstones-Episode-Ending-Affection-Scale, we have “Alvin Brickrock Presents”! Perhaps the greatest ending ever, to a Hanna-Barbera cartoon!

scarecrow33 said...

Deliciously Hitchcockian, I agree!