12/18/1977-The Night They Went Head-To-Head For The First(and only) Time

Carol Burnett, Dean Martin; 2 names that helped define the TV Variety genre in the 1960’s and 70’s, yet for all their magnificent success, they went head-to-head only once: That night was December 18, 1977.

That night, Burnett moved to Sunday in the midst of her final season, while Martin, in the twilight of his NBC career spent “Christmas In California” with both shows sharing the 10:00 time slot on this night.


Burnett: In addition to Tim and Vicki, she welcomed song-and-dance man Ken Berry(later to be Vicki’s costar on the Mama’s Family spinoff) and Australia’s other top female pop singer, Helen Reddy(there were two of them, you know).

Martin: You know he would have beautiful women on his shows, this roster wasn’t too shabby, Linda Lavin, Crystal Gayle, French songstress Mirelle Mathieu and old standbys The Golddiggers. Comedy relief was supplied by Johnathan Winters and Chico Jr, Gabriel Melgar.


Burnett: A Tudball-Wiggins holiday sketch, a feuding couple take it out on a water-department inspector and a skit featuring a fast-talking stewardess aboard the Concorde. Musical numbers by Berry, Reddy and a cast number “Strike Up The Band.”

Martin: He does some “horsing” around with Andalusians and Winters, plus musical numbers with his female guests, though despite the “Christmas” theme, only one musical number is holiday-related, “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”(unless you consider Gayle’s “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue” holiday- related).

As for the final outcome, we can assume they pulled in only a fraction of their once-mighty ratings, plus they had a movie on ABC to contend with as well. Still, it is amazing that only once did Burnett and Martin actually fought it out on the same night, even more so that today 40 years later, Burnett and Lavin are still pulling in viewers. That fact alone is even worth celebrating this holiday season.


OK, so it’s been 2 months…

But still, you should find out how I’m doing every now and then, so here goes: I’ve been watching a lot of “Media Mix” on YouTube, which means a lot of obscure old shows from the 50’s featuring a military dramedy starring Ralph Meeker called “Not For Hire” and a Ray Milland drama about a jet-setting lawyer-PI named “MARKHAM.” So if and when I feel like posting some amusing facts about these gems, you will see them here. I am also now a moderator of the FB group, “The TV Archives,” so chances are, I may have approved an article from you or your membership in the last couple of days. Thanks to Ken Douglas for adding that to my social media schedule! So this is where I stand right now, if it takes me another two months to post, then it’ll take me another 2 months to post. That being said, if you have any article ideas for me, let me know, I’ll try to post when I have the time and whenever fantasy football ends. It’s playoff season, you know.

It’s been a week, so here goes…

Not too long ago I was posting maybe every other day when it happened… CHICAGO TRIBUNE ARCHIVES NO LONGER FREE! Guess you can say I’m in some kind of withdrawal, but hey, that’s why there’s baseball!

Expanded playoffs over the years have diluted the traditional watching experience in the fall known as the World Series(not to mention late start times), but it is worth it just to relive the memories of bringing the transistor to school to sneak a listen or the mere hope that someone would wheel in the TV to the classroom to see a Series game.  Where were you when…

Mazeroski stunned the Yankees in game 7? Fisk begged it to stay fair(and it did) in the 12th? The ball went through Buckner’s legs? Gimpy-kneed Kirk Gibson stunned the A’s with an improbable home run?

All watching in front of our TV’s in October, which we will do again this year, because there is so much magic and memories in the post-season, even if it does run into November.

What I Learned This Week

That the Chicago Tribune archives are no longer free(thanks, newspapers.com)-but if you send a friend request to Daniel Borgman on Facebook, he’ll be happy to share his 500+ TVWEEK’s with you.

That the CBS Friday Night Movies in 1967 were on a roll: the previous week, Jimmy Stewart courageously plunked down Lee Marvin(Liberty Valance); this week, it was crop-dusters, Mt. Rushmore and an unsuspecting chap named Roger Thornhill.

That Perry Mason’s “hamburger” of a DA was recuperating in a California hospital in the final arguments of his own personal final case: lung cancer.

That fuzzymemories.tv posted a full Monkees episode from a 1980 WFLD(Field Communications, Chicago) airing on YouTube complete with commercials, including that for a short-lived Ralston Purina cereal, Waffelo’s. “Then I Saw Her Face…”

That we were in the final weekend of an epic baseball pennant race in the American League in 1967, with a game and a half separating Minnesota, Boston, Detroit and the White Sox. Who needed football that weekend?

That I don’t have to do this again for a few days, plus at least the Google Newspaper Archives are free. Ciao!

How(or “Who”) do you counter a “Mutiny?”

Sunday September 24, the night of the “Mutiny.” For all the hype ABC put into to pull off this Marlon Brando-led “Mutiny,” the other networks did whatever they could to counter ABC’s “Bounty” of a night. NBC may have played it safe, scheduling their usual Sunday fare, without any hint of a major guest star or a major plot line to upstage Brando’s Tahiti-bound machinations(OK, they had wild west-themed cartoons on Disney to counter Bounty’s lead-in, a McDonald’s sponsored “Holiday On Ice” special with Johnathan Winters). As for CBS, it had it’s “Eye” peeled and it’s “Winner’s Circle” stocked with guest-stars of significance on it’s showcase Sunday shows. On Ed Sullivan, just these 2 guests were listed(the rest of the lineup probably had the usual novelties), Florence Henderson and The Mamas And The Papas.

The latter sounded like “Smothers Brothers” material, but besides Bette Davis and Mickey Rooney, the bickering folk-singing sibs who followed also countered not with “what,” but with “Who” as in, “The.” Yes, this was the one where Keith Moon’s drumming was literally “smoking.” No doubt “Mutiny” won the night, but it usually takes that one moment that can steal the night. And that’s something that could happen(and did) at least once in “My Generation.”