Thursday, May 21, 2020

This Day in TV History: 40 years ago tonight, an intriguing night of television

The three broadcast networks offered an intriguing night of television May 21, 1980--animation, original movies, and old favorites.

CBS started the night with Bugs Bunny's Bustin' Out All Over, a special I do not remember but surely have been watching if I had the chance. There must be dozens of these primetime Bugs and Looney Tunes specials that no one runs and that aren't on Boomerang--but this one is available for a price on YouTube! It features 3 new Chuck Jones toons.

Then CBS follows with a spinoff of Rhoda--an animated spinoff! Yes, it's Carlton Your Doorman, a failed pilot run here as a special. Lorenzo Music voices the titular role as he does on the sitcom; like Rhoda, this is an MTM production. Unlike Rhoda, it didn't lead to anything...yet it did win an Emmy for best animated special!

NBC has perhaps the blandest lineup this Wednesday night--a rerun of Real People, an hourlong Diff'rent Strokes rerun, and a Quincy repeat. People profiles Famous Amos, and at 10:00, the M.E. tackles the issue of elder abuse.  The interesting choice is the Strokes episode--a Thanksgiving episode broadcast in the middle of May. The second half-hour originally aired as Hello Larry, but it seems it was already retconned as an episode of the successful show 9as it appears in DVD and in reruns today).  They sure weren't giving up on Larry, were they?

Back to CBS, which followed its animated hour with The Grass Is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank. Remember Erma Bombeck? Well, as a child of the era, I may not have read her newspaper columns about the humorous foibles of suburban life, but, oh, do I recall the book collections being all over the place. This TV movie adaptation of Bombeck's work, originally aired in 1978, stars Carol Burnett and Charles Grodin and was intended as a series pilot. Unfortunately, "critics hated it."

How about ABC's lineup, you ask? Well, if you need a little excitement, the network has you covered with Perry Como's Bahama Holiday. The Captain and Tennille and Loretta Swit join the scenery to produce "the next best thing to visiting Nassau."

After that special comes Murder Can Hurt You, a 1980 TV-movie I have been meaning to see after hearing frequent references on Gilbert Gottfried's podcast. The spoof of TV detective/cop shows stars Don Adams, Gavin Macleod (as Kojak), Tony Danza (as Baretta), Roz Kelly, Victor Buono (as Ironside), and many, many more!

What a night of television! What would you watch out of this collection of entertainment?

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