Saturday, April 24, 2021

This Day in TV History: Stockers with Terry Bradshaw

40 years ago tonight, NBC nudged a pilot into its Friday night lineup of a Harper Valley P..T.A. rerun and The Gangster Chronicles: Stockers, a comedy from Johnny Carson Productions starring former BOTNS featured personality Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback Terry Bradshaw. Mel Tillis co-starred as Terry's sidekick; the two were stock car racers traveling the country, seeking adventures and trying to stay one step ahead of a tireless bill collector (Robert Tessier) who's hunting them down).

Bradshaw was on the downside of his career, but was it realistic to think he could leave the NFL for acting full time at this point? This Steelers Depot piece indicates it was a real possibility. The QB had already been in Hooper and Cannonball Run, and his entertainment aspirations were well known. By the way, the director of both those pictures, Hal Needham, also did this pilot, which was a clear effort to get some of that country/outlaw chic of the era exemplified by The Dukes of Hazzard and Smokey and the Bandit.

(How in the world did Terry not earn a Batty nomination in our season 6 for his performance as himself in Greatest Sports Legends?)

The show was a mess, reportedly, the broadcast didn't do well according to this report, and thus the show was not picked up for the Fall schedule. It couldn't overcome repeats of I'm a Big Girl Now (ABC) and The Incredible Hulk (CBS), and so Terry Bradshaw returned for the 1981 season. The Steelers finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs for a second consecutive season. The Hall of Famer played in 1982, then retired after missing most of an injury-plagued 1983 season.

Unfortunately this remains a What I'd Like to See entry for now. Bradshaw himself doesn't think I should try to find it, telling Rolling Stone last year:
They should not watch an old TV show I did called Stockers. Absolutely not. It was a show on NBC. It’s horrible. The pilot was a takeoff of Cannonball Run.
I’ve never heard of this. Why was it so bad?
Bad. It was bad. Bad writing. Bad acting. You just name it. The music in it was even bad! How can you have bad music?

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