In honor of Women's History Month, I compiled yet another list of unavailable (for the most part) TV shows from the 1970s and 1980s that should be available on streaming or DVD. The guidelines are the same as last month's Black History month post, but these shows are fronted by female leads. The following programs are unavailable on the major streaming services in the USA (unofficial uploads to sites like YouTube and DailyMotion are welcome but do not count) and have not received official DVD/Blu-Ray releases. Here we go:
Amy Prentiss: This was on our radar even before the passing of star Jessica Walter last week, but i bet a lot of people reading her obituaries thought, "Wait, she won her Emmy for what, now?" I recently heard Cy Chernak suggest that this Ironside spinoff was ripped off by Prime Suspect. In the series, the Emmy-and-Batty 9for a different project)-winning Walter becomes head of the SFPD and meets a lot of resistance. Also starring Art Metrano! Only several episodes, but it could get plunked on Peacock or packaged with other NBC Mystery Movie selections.
All's Fair: Not all Norman Lear shows have been part of the national consciousness. I don't expect to see a live recreation of one of these episodes anytime soon. I'd like to see a good, old original episode of it, though. The concept seems to be from another century now, and that's because it is! Bernadette Peters and Richard Crenna are liberal/conservative newspeople who are separated by age and background as well as political beliefs. It also stars Michael Keaton and Jack Dodson.
Madame's Place: Let's not minimize the significance of Madame just because she was Puppet-American. This show is high on camp value but low on exposure in the last, what, 30-some years? I imagine it would have an instant cult following were it made available, but perhaps clearances make it impossible.
Double Trouble: I get a rush of nostalgia whenever I see a snippet of or promo of this 1980s NBC sitcom which had a seemingly endless rerun stint on USA Network soon after its original run. The Sagal twins starred, but stalwarts Donnelly Rhodes and Barbara Barrie were also in the cast along with scene stealers Jonathan Schmock and (future Arrested Development creative force) Jim Valelly.
This is kind of a limbo show in that no one runs it anymore yet I bet it would have high, "Ohhh, yeah, THAT show!" factor among children of the Eighties. It was an unexceptional sitcom about teenage life, but the twins were charming enough to make the show worth another look.
Jeannie: How about a cartoon for our list? I Dream of Jeannie has never been out of syndication and is frequently a national presence on cable or on diginets, but this animated spinoff is way out of circulation. The series ran only one season of originals and subbed Julie McWhirter for Barbara Eden; in fact the entire cast was replaced and Jeannie "served" a teen surfer voiced by Mark Hamill.
Flying High: Anything with two-time Batty Award winner Connie Sellecca should be available, says I.
Gimme a Break!: Nell Carter's star vehicle is barely mentioned today but was one of NBC's more bankable shows during its grim pre-Cosby years. This show was a rerun staple in the 1980s. Yes, Antenna TV has carried it in recent years, and other stations, too, and, yes, it got a DVD release years ago. But the DVDs are out of print, and I feel that this series just isn't talked about as much as one would think a family-friendly 6-season, 137-episode sitcom would be. Hey, networks, looking for a throwback Black-themed sitcom and don't want to carry Cosby's stuff? Here's an option!
The Late Show with Joan Rivers: Not to be confused with That Show with Joan Rivers, a more obscure talk show that has received exposure in the streaming era, probably by virtue of being fortunate enough to be available enough to be released by someone who is motivated to do something with old shows. Rivers was an excellent host, and while the work of her friend-turned-foe Johnny Carson is all over the place these days (and I'm glad for it), you have to scour YouTube for examples of Rivers' highest-profile pre-E! years series. It's worthy of more attention than just the infamous falling out with the King of Late Night.
Tracey Ullman Show: It deserves to be remembered for more than just being the launching pad of The Simpsons. Ullman has had, what, a dozen shows with some variation of her name in the title? This is the one I'd like to revisit, one of the flagship early Fox Network programs.
Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters: I'm sure it's impossible, but the Mandrells were huge in the early Eighties. Music, comedy, and more were the hallmarks of this variety series that ended too soon when Babs stepped out of the singing life to rest her voice. It was maybe the last of the big primetime network variety shows, and it was a solid performer for NBC on Saturday nights at a time when it didn't have a lot of hits. Plus it had Krofft puppets!
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