Monday, May 4, 2020

This Day in TV History: 40 years ago, a spectacular night on ABC

I could tell you about May 4, 1980 on ABC, but why don't I let Ernie Anderson do it?

The Battle episode features the following team captains: William Devane for NBC, Cathy Lee Crosby for ABC, and Chad Everett for CBS. Among the luminaries competing are BOTNS faves Grant Goodeve, Larry Wilcox, Randi Oakes, and Patrick Simmons--er, Gary Sandy.

The Ritter special is a showcase for the star at the height of Three's Company fame. Directed by longtime Company helmsman Dave Powers, co-starring Joyce DeWitt and Suzanne Somers, and coming from Ritter's own production company, the hourlong broadcast features several sketches with costars like Vincent Price and Howard Hesseman.

The special got a seemingly random DVD release in 2004--or was it random? Well, Whitney Pastorek doesn't seem to think so in this blistering review from Entertainment Weekly. Reaction today to the special is indeed mixed at best.

People didn't care for it in 1980, as you can tell by this brief Picks and Pans review:

The concept—a spoof of America’s neurotic hang-ups—and the cast are too good for the material. Vincent Price is smooth as a behavioral psychologist, and Howard Hesseman is zonked out as a rock star’s shrink. The ubiquitous Ritter is, as ever, likable. But the skits drone on, as if this were a run-through, not an edited show.

(Vintage ad from via

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