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The 70s: Television. Aired 9:00-10:00p ET.

Aired June 11, 2015 - 21:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight's television aims to look at itself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's an idiot fact? You tell me an idiot fact if an idiot is watching.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll tell you about the goal in age of television. This period in time, will look upon us the platinum age.

Our obligation is to entertain and let something to think about, so much the better.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Television would not be just entertainment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Charges will never let the commercial television networks...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the Congress has no right to interfere me.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a responsibility to give the audience what they tuned in to see.



HOWARD K. SMITH, ABC NEWS: The years of the '60s which ends in a few hours have a bad reputation to this not entirely justified. Some things got worse obvious but giving you another news coverage as better not worse, listen to develop more demanding standards.

VINCE GILLIGAN, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: When I went to T.V. I think it was '70s,

ED ASNER, ACTOR, THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW: What is this world coming to.

The American public was hungry for more.

Valerie Harper, ACTRESS, THE MARY TYLER MOORE: More was allowed that had been before.

DAVID BIANCULLI, TELEVISION CRITIC, FRESH AIR: It was the last decade where it was a camp fire television, where there was one living our...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to watch all black shields for a change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, where you go and find one?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is one, and just like us but guess (inaudible).

BIANCULLI: The young people were interest in relevant things. And so television begin to reflect that.


LEVAR BURTON, ACTOR, ROOTS: Really it was very simple. You had three channels and plus PBS.

KEN LEVINE, WRITER, THE JEFFERSONS: When the decade turned over into the '70s, television was very rural...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Beverly Hillbillies.

BOB NEWHART, ACTOR, THE BOB NEWHART SHOW: PBS had Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres...

PHIL ROSENTHAL, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND: And it go junction in this kind of rural fantasies of Mayberrism.

TOM SHALES, TELEVISION CRITIC: The Hillbillies were everywhere and then they weren't.

ELANA LEVINE, WALLOWING IN SEX: Fred Silverman who was running programming at CBS said, "We're going to rid of the shows that are the most highly rated and replace them with shows that they thoughts would be more appealing to that younger audience.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They change the face of television.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Finding this Norman Lear.


Mike Wallace, CBS NEWS: On 1971, he was a very successful if largely unheralded producer writer in Hollywood. But then he burst upon the public consciousness when he took on bigotry with his All in the Family.

GILLIGAN: Norman Lear (inaudible) created absolutely iconic shows.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They revolutionize not only CBS but all the American television.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our wild is common trembling them, the goons are coming.

JAMES WOLCOTT, JOURNALIST, VANITY FAIR: To use language like that on T.V, was just unheard of, but it really captured a certain moment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Patchy (ph), 12 percent of the population is black, there should be a lot of black families living on here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, this is only a beginning but I think it's wonderful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, let's see how wonderful it is when a watermelon rinse come flying off the window.

DICK CAVETT, HOST, THE DICK CAVETT SHOW: Well, it's scared me when I first saw on the family (inaudible) I thought, he'd better be careful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was not doubt in my mind, the American people are going to accept it.

CAVETT: Do you have a quick answer for the people who say the show reinforces bigotry and, you know, that (inaudible) started from the very beginning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. My quick answer is no.

NORMAN LEAR, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, ALL IN THE FAMILY: Everybody is going to see something, they look at them, what was going on. And I think that's surprising.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Baby, we're out of toiler paper.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, we're not. I bought some yesterday. It's in the closet in the kitchen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I ain't in the kitchen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hearing a toiler flush for the first time was a big deal and made headlines.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's this country comment anyhow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is it Archie (ph), bad news?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More than else.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're getting out of Vietnam or something?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't be a wise guy, huh.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wasn't going to play around with mom (inaudible) the car and how we're going to keep dad from finding out about it, and that when I see everything that's going around and our country.

[21:05:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just because a guy is sensitive and his intellectually, wears glasses, you make him as a queer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I never said a guy who wears glasses as a queer. A guy who has glasses is a four-eyes, a guy who was a fag is queer... UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All in the Family did something really new for television. It put before the American public Archie's friend who was very masculine and who happened to be gay.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How long you know me, 10 to 12 years?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In all that time, did I ever mention a woman?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh come on, Steve.


PRESIDENT NIXON: Damn it, I do not think that you glorify on public television homosexuality. The reason you don't glorify it, John, anymore than you glorify whores.


CHRIS CONNELLY, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, GRANTLAND: Nixon objection to the show that was a bunch of honor. That was merely culturally on point every time for a sitcom that was unheard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One, two, three.

CONNELLY: I wanted to do an episode where somebody could give Archie what he earned.


CONNELLY: He has created a character that could really let him have it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm only here because of Edith, the fact that you happened to be here with ours beyond my control, like any other freak of nature.

CONNELLEY: That show is up to here Fred Silverman was on the telephone with me saying there's a show in that woman.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello. No, this is not Mr. Findlay. It's Mrs. Findlay. Yeah, Mr. Findlay has a much higher voice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now get you coat, come on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What makes you think you can order me around like that, Henry?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're my wife. That gives me the right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When he says wife, he means possession.

BILL MACY: So what more? You told me a hundred times you want to feel possessed?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Walter Findlay, I never said that standing up and you know it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin really turned his spin off series into an art form.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Norman Lear hates to hear it called the Lear factory.

All his series come out of this building allowing Lear to move from show to show like a dervish.

TOM HANKS, ACTOR: Good Times was like, "Holy smokes, there black people on T.V.

JOHN AMOS, ACTOR GOOD TIMES: You'd never done a complete black family on T.V. before with the father.

HANKS: What made it so unique and universally said, we have the said problems in our household and we do not leave in the projects in Chicago.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you want to worry, you heard about nothing gone and do it. But we got $32 in a shoe box and I got another $6 right here in my pocket.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You work all night and all day, they paid you a $6?

AMOS: There were a lot of folks who were not happy with the show.

The black panthers were very upset when (inaudible) came to see me. The big complaint was, why can't we see a black man still better than that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Jeffersons has started as neighbors of Archie Bunker.

BUNKER: Don't call me a honky.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why you sensitive with all the stuff?

BUNKER: How would you like it if I called you nigger?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He called me nigger.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's still worse than honky.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're right. Nothing worst than honky except being married to one.

DAVID WILD, WRITER: Norman Lear set the stage for other shows in the '70s had just brought gravitas to television. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why do you say that?.

I was just thinking, I'll my bring my neighbor's kids over here.

This place is better than the zoo.



KEN LEVINE, WRITER PRODUCER M*A*S*H : On Saturday nights, the CBC lineup in the early '70s was amazing, 8:00, All in the Family, 8:30, M*A*S*H

CONNELLY: 8:00, The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You had The Bob Newhart Show.

HANKS: And it ended with that The Carol Burnett Show at 10:00.

NEWHART: There's are the kind of murderous role.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People had no TVRs. They had no VHS, they had nothing with initials. So, people would stay home on Saturday nights. They wouldn't go to the movies. They wouldn't go to restaurants.

BIANCULLI: That maybe the best night of television in all of television history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mary Tyler Moore was a single woman working as an associate producer on a nightly TV show.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know what? You got spunk. I hate spunk.

MILLER: There were a lot of young women entering the workplace then. And for some of them, Mary Tyler was like a port of entry.


MOORE: I'm doing as good job as he did.


MOORE: Better. And I'm being hate less than he was because...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're a woman.


HARPER: The television female could be a hero. She could be the main event.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Read it? All right.

MOORE: Out loud. ASHER: The first script written by Allan Burns and Jim Brooks. And Mary come in when they have his divorce and (inaudible) quickly. CBS said "No, no, no, no, no."

LEVINE: At the beginning of the decade, divorce was considered somewhat scandalous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She went on dates...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... with a lot of guys.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... but the guys were really important.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We seem to be heading it off and I just...

MOORE: Just (inaudible).


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is not obsessed with finding a husband.


MOORE: Don't forget to take you pill.



HARPER: This was a about people coping with other another. And the workplace was like a family.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I told Ted to close the copy the (inaudible).

MOORE: Oh, my God.


MOORE: I told that projection is with the other way around.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) farmers, there have noticed today that the rising corn prices are forcing them to find the means to free their stock. Theirs is one big (inaudible). Just look at (inaudible) slots. Starting tomorrow, we'll presetting a new feature on WJM dining up with (inaudible).


HARPER: Once Jim Brooke said to me, I know there's a world of comedy in my wife's purse. I just can't access it. We've got to find some female writers in this show.


MOORE: Did you flush the men's room?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Of course not. I went in somebody's guest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why do you think it's such a winner?

MOORE: I think because of the casting and I think because of the writing.

[21:15:00] They don't sacrifice the character for the sake of a good joke.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That effort to keep the female sensibility is what made it authentic and good. People would say to just like me and my girlfriends.


MOORE: How can you covered yourself like that and think those (inaudible)?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm feeling crazy with hunger.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, eat something.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't. I got to loss 10 pounds by 8:30.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fred Silverman, network at the time says, "Valerie, listen, I'm going to spin you off," and I thought, "Oh my god, I'm fired" because "spin off" is a term that was originated in the 70s.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to start living together. We got to tell each other everything.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK Joe, I want to get married.

HARPER: Rhoda and Joe's wedding became a huge national event. 52 million people tuned in to see that.

ALAN SEPINWALL, TELEVISION CRITIC: Suddenly, Rhoda has unhappy relationship and they didn't know what to do with that and then they had to have her get divorce to try to reboot the show.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why did you marry me? Just answer me that, why did you marry me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You made me marry you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just a matter of trust.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh she's not going to do it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Exactly, when is that leave us and then when we go from here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That we'll have to discuss the future sessions.

JAMES WOLCOTT, JOURNALIST, VANITY FAIR: Somebody also had this therapeutic overlaid.





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We decided to make him a psychologist.

NEWHART: You seemed to run out of things to say.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why don't we pray?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, let's pray for the end of the session.

HANKS: I didn't know anything about their therapy prior to that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm from the planet (inaudible), (inaudible) galaxy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How long you're going to be in town?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't want to his show where we had children. I didn't want to be the dumb dad.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Allen (ph), I just don't care where are we. I just don't want to make anymore decisions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And people say, (inaudible) used watch the show and it was very -- and you realize you're part of people's live.

WILD: The '70s was the era where a certain artistry developed.

GILLIGAN: M*A*S*H really changed many people's perception what is sitcom can be. The sitcom could be cinematic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: M*A*S*H was shot like a movie and M*A*S*H was maybe the single most unique situation comedy ever.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have a headache, a tremendous headache. It goes all the way down to my weight.

GILLIGAN: The television series M*A*S*H had one thing a movie and my estimation did not which was hard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are a certain rules about a war. And rule number one is, young men die. Rule number two is doctors can't change rule number one.

MIKE FARRELL, ACTOR M*A*S*H: It was about career but we were talking about in doing things that had to do with Vietnam and everybody knew it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rolling, action.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: War is in hell. War is war and hell is hell and number two, war is a lot worse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had 30 million people awake watching M*A*S*H.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you ever really considered the foot?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, but I preferred girls.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Better not pumping into Henry in that general.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I intent only to bump in to Nurse Baker, repeatedly if possible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Program and practices, these were people who we go through the scripts and say, "We can't use this word". We feel like we were in the midst of a battle. This is freedom of speech.

SMITH: At the Senate hearings on television, violence today strong charges were leveled at the commercial television networks.

NICHOLAS JOHNSON, FCC COMMISSIONER: The broadcasting industry now stands charged with having molested the minds of our nation's children to serve the cost of corporate profit.

JOHN CHANCELLOR, NBC NEWS: The Family Hour was established by the three networks and the Federal Communications Commission in response to complaints of too much sex and violence on early evening television.

MIKE WALLANCE, CBS NEWS: The Family Hour, the two hours from 7:00 to 9:00 P.M. during which parents and children are supposed to be able to watch television without being made to feel uncomfortable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's time for (inaudible).

LEAR: So just seemed all together unfair and we sued.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: FAMILY HOUR is under attack from some producers, unions and others in the television industry. They have filed a lawsuit to have it abolished.

JIM BROWN, NBC NEWS: As those schedules to justify (inaudible) like Brian Ticker (ph) and Alec Burns (ph) of Mary Tyler Moore enterprises, they passed through a piquet line protesting the hearing.

CARROL O'CONNOR, ACTOR: Congress has no right whatsoever, to investigate in the content of the media.

ALLAN ALDA, ACTOR: If you can sensor a joke today and tomorrow you can sensor the expression of any thought, if you can sensor a joke. It just becomes easier the next day.

DAVID BRINKLEY, NBC NEWS: The federal judge in Los Angeles rule the so called Family Hour on television from 7:00 to 9:00 P.M. was unconstitutional. The violation of the first amendment guaranteed a free speech.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first amendment was (inaudible) and a most important decision, and it's really, truly a victory for everybody.



ROGER GRIMSBY, ABC NEWS: The Rookies will not be seen tonight so that we may bring you the following special program. Tonight's television aims to look at itself.

We are looking at what do you watch most of the time, entertainment programming on the three commercial networks. What are you looking at and is it good for you?

BILL MESCE, JR.: Somewhere around the middle or late '70s, that people got tired of talking about real stuff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: May the good Lord provide us with various, I think (inaudible).

CHRIS CONNELLY, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, GRANTLAND: There was a longing for simpler time when it didn't seem like there was so much anger and contentiousness, when people weren't so mad at each other.

GRIMSBY: During the last session, the Waltons cut off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Goodnight, Jimboy (ph).


GRIMSBY: This year there will be more in the (inaudible) and wholesome family drama.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now the dinner is over, let's try out the piano.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am taking request.

GARRY MARSHALL, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, HAPPY DAYS: I created Happy Days not the way the family was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I enjoy it. We'll be good if there were some families that didn't get the voice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You guys are ruining it.

MARSHALL: It wasn't by accident everybody on Happy Days hugging each other. It wouldn't by accident everybody in the family ate at the same time at the same table.

SHALES: It was a sweet tender show on the band of American graffiti, looking back on that era of the '50s with a certain affection.

[21:25:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey.

HANKS: ABC wanted fantasies A, to compete directly with Jimmie J.J. Walker's Dy-no-mite.

WINKLER: Cause the Fonz happy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Catch phrases with be.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: Seat on it, Morgan (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Seat on it, Howard (ph).

PAT MORITA, ACTOR: Does anyone say take you (inaudible), no, you know, what they say?

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: Seat on it, Arnold.

MORITA: That's what they say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You watched Fonzie and you just want to be Fonzie.

WINKLER: Hey girls, and I can sell out, is that movie stars just flipping the fingers.

ROSENTHAL: It's a fantasy of what teen life could be.

WINKLER: Hey, the Fonzie they're here.

HOWARD: All right.

WINKLER: Laverene, this is Laverne the Fonz oh she's mine and it is Shirley Feeney she's yours as you can see.

C.WILLIAMS: Nice to meet you Richie.

HOWARD: My pleasure.

MARSHALL: When the very show they made a guest appearance one of the camera men said, "Look at this two shot that's a series."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tuesday night between 8:00 and 9:00 is called the Death Spot, death to any program that there's to go ahead on against ABC's Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley. MARSHALL: Laverne and Shirley was one of the few sitcoms that ever debut as number one.

DAVID SHEEHAN, ANCHOR: They absolute top number one show this season is Laverne and Shirley. It seemingly harmless but essentially brainless exercise and adolescence silliness.

BIANCULLI: You have to go all the way back to I Love Lucy to get the same sort of slapstick and physical comedy.

PENNY MARSHALL, ACTOR: And when I thought about its importance except that, you know, is two girls trying and then value of friendship. And my stand something going for...

C.WILLIAMS: I don't vo-dee-o-dodo

MARSHALL: You vo-dee-o-dodo.

C.WILLIAMS: I don't vo-dee-o-dodo

MARSHALL: They couldn't say sex so they said vo-dee-o-do.

C.WILLIAMS: It's vo-dee-o.

MARSHALL: Nobody knows about what we've been talking about.


MARSHALL: They suddenly did what to Laverne and Shirley or Happy Days, I said, you know, I'm -- he said I like it but what's missing spaceman because we were getting into space and so that's when I created, a spaceman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait a minute who are you?

R. WILLIAMS: I am Mork (inaudible).

MARSHALL: The writers all goes (inaudible) rise an alien, he wants an alien I had to make up the story of Fonzie's running at out the bad (inaudible).

HOWARD: That's right Fonzie is never lost a (inaudible) tackler (ph) yet, and we get the home planet advantage.

MARSHALL: And we bet him on he's own show and Mork and Mindy was the hit show of the '70s.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The audience talked about a willing suspension of disbelief is willing to buy the premise.

R.WILLIAMS: Mind if I do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just so they can watch Robin Williams.

R. WILLIAMS: Nano, nano.


BURTON: That was an interesting part of the balance I think of the television diet, that there was an attempt explore deeper into the psyche of what makes us tick but there was also, you know, a need to escape.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm going to a beach barbecue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can see what's going to heat up the coal.

WALLACE: Just any single phenomenon that is told in the rating books and ABC's direction its TNA's Herb Jacobs (ph) at the CDS affiliates meeting, he explained to us how this TNA shows have (inaudible).

HERB JACOBS, PROGRAM CONSULTANT: And I take that close or three times to take get on this and then they wanted us to run to two or three times, so they jiggle. And I well in doubt of course and then they say, "Let's get 3 undress scenes and 3 jiggles and write the script around it".

WALLACE: There are some who will tell you but TNA has (inaudible) and in own its way out but ABC has shows like The Love Boat and Three is Company.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gigolo T.V referred to the fact that these were women who were, you know, who were, you know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good morning, angels.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: Good morning, Charlie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Charlie's Angels became a very enduring trademark out of the '70s.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've already made arrangements for you three to go to prison.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obvious standing as erectus ever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good luck, angels.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Battle of the network stars.

FARRELL: Oh god. I did battle with the network stars a couple of times and I hated it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think I made some pretty good time on Billy Crystal

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Network with a low out their T.V. stars to compete in a series of quasi-Olympic type events.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His leading so far over the boat. He seems to be (inaudible) great. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aaron Gray was that live 9in body.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's got a great set of legs. What the heck.

FARRELL: I think from what we have a lot of to apologize for with the worst of television.

BURTON: My only defense was, it was the '70s.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did I jiggle much. Live and learn.



CHARLES KURALT, CBS NEWS: Public television has been expected to do a great deal. Almost half of non-commercial program hours are into children, and it has come to be so many things to so many people.

BURTON: To PBC children's programming in the '70s, become the platinum standard on the planet for how you use this medium to educate kids.

ROGERS: Would you be mine, could you be mine, won't you be my neighbor.

BURTON: It was Fred Rogers who made it OK to speak to an audience of kinds like they we're human beings.

ROGERS: There's some things that are very different to understand in a newspaper.

GILLIGAN: Every now and then I think back to Mr Rogers and I think he would say, don't be scared, live is good, life is special.

ROGERS: Everybody is so special because everybody is different.

SEPINWALL: Just go and do the thing that you love and that always stuck with me.

FARRELL: Sesame Street introduced my children to the interaction of people with different backgrounds.

KERMIT THE FROG, SESAME STREET CHARACTER: It's not that easy being green.


BIANCULLI: Sesame Street was a aggressive in terms of learning not only concepts of reading but concepts of interacting.

[21:35:02] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I maybe small...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I maybe small...




BURTON: Sesame Street was, you know, as big as it got in terms of celebrity. Everybody wanted to hang with the muppets.



OSCAR: Cash, cash.

BURTON: Educational children's television really matured in the '70s.

KERMIT: I'm leaving.


KERMIT: I love you too.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And now for something completely different.

PHIL ROSENTHAL, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND: When I was 13 the show from England came on, PBS, which before that was only the realm of my parents.


And suddenly they're doing the most outlandish racy, non sequitur type of humor and killing me the 13-year-old.

TERRY GILLIAM, SCREENWRITER: It's extraordinary (ph) what you can't do on American television I think you can do it on PBS and that's why, I hope you all watching.


SEPINWALL: This generation of comedy nerds who don't even know that they're comedy nerds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This product is no more, it has ceased to be.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Money plays on, turned out to break so many rules, I mean changes everything. Just like with The Beatles you can say, "Oh, they came after The Beatles", you look at sergeant live (ph), you look at SCTV after (inaudible).

TOM SNYDER, TELEVISION PERSONALITY: Beginning of October the 11th Saturday night, we'll open up a whole new live (ph) adventure from New York City where we just happen to have the producer of the program and members of his company. What should we look for in your program? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anxiety.

SEPINWALL: Lorne Michaels, this Canadian comedy producer was given free reign.

LORNE MICHAELS, TELEVISION PRODUCER: Hi, I'm Lorne Michaels the producer of Saturday Night.

SEPINWALL: And he ultimately wind up hiring a bunch of impromptu (ph) comics

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rehearsal and warm up, let's do 20 face slaps, come on.

SHALES: George Carlin was the first host and wanted to be a permanent host.

GEORGE CARLIN, COMEDIAN: Nice to see you, welcome and thanks for joining us live.

JIM MILLER, AUTHOR, LIVE FROM NEW YORK: There we're a lot of these pondering (ph) about in terms of permanent host.

SHALES: That's one of those T.V. rules that you must not break until you do and then you realize, why don't you have a different host every week. But it was the cast that finally won people's hearts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Come on, who is this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Andy Graham (ph).


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You cut your own steaks, we give you the sauce.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, thank you very much. You're beautiful, you're beautiful, thank you.

SHALES: You we're drawn to the T.V. set because you know something insane might happen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Live, live, live.

SHALES: Partly because it was live but partly because you know television was now in the hands of the television generation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: NBC smart as a peacock.

SHALES: And these we're kids (inaudible) just might do anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) president within very wall. That never happens when Dick Nixon was in the White House.

SHALES: It was (inaudible) television, that partly what made it attractive.


HANKS: Everyone of their episodes become worthy of talmudic study, if that's the word.

ROBERT KLEIN, COMEDIAN: When I hosted the (inaudible) into his office and he said, do you realize the kids are the stars.

The host wasn't really as impactful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's not quite it.

KLEIN: Because the thing was older age.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They call themselves the not ready for prime time players not because they felt they weren't good enough but because they felt they we're too good.

CHEVY CHASE, COMEDIAN: Good evening my Kevin Chase and...

SEPINWALL: Chevy Chase become an instant star.

CHASE: Our top story tonight...


HANKS: Chevy Chase was on the show for one year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you sorry you left Saturday Night Live?

CHASE: I'm deeply, deeply sorry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chevy decided that he was too big for the show and so he left. And some ways, Chevy leaving after the first year was a blessing because it showed that Saturday Night Live is going to do (ph), much more than survive.

BILL MURRAY, ACTOR: There's some things that just aren't explainable.

Hello I'm Bill Murray, you can call me Billy but around here everybody just calls me the new guy.

SEPINWALL: When Chevy Chase leaves, Bill Murray comes in.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cut, cut, make up, can we get in here please. Sorry fellows...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean that just opened up other doors and Saturday Night Live was just kind of talking...



HANKS: It was the show for us. It was the show about us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You wanted to be a part of it. It was inextricably length with the times.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good afternoon, good night...




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Monday, Monday, Monday. It's the greatest day of the week.

HANKS: Throughout high school there was one show that was really just broadcasting that you had to watch because if you didn't see it you wouldn't have anything to talk about for all of Tuesday and most of Wednesday and a big part of Thursday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why? Because Monday night is NFL football night, that's why.

DON OHLMEYER, PRODUCER, MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBAL: Monday Night Football got it start on September 21st 1970 with the Cleveland Browns hosting the New York Jets.

HOWARD COSELL, ANCHOR, MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBAL: Welcome to ABC's Monday Night prime time National Football League television series.

KEITH JACKSON, ANCHOR, ABC SPORTS: And this game is on the way on ABC.

OHLMEYER: Frank was here to do play by play. Don was here to do replays and provides some humor to the telecast and Howard was there to be the (inaudible).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right Barry (ph) come on. Let's go. Let's go girls (ph).

BIANCULLI: The pairing of Howard Cosell with Don Meredith is a classic sitcom odd couple kind of pairing.

MILLER: You couldn't help but be swept up by what those guys were saying. The booth (ph) itself was almost like a variety show.

[21:45:04] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have our expert with us here this evening.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've called it a traveling freak show and it really was kind of a traveling freak and the head freak was Howard, there's no question about that.

CONNELLY: The tension between the two of them made for the kind of thing you just want to see every week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Professional football is rapidly growing into a very big business.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You understand football here (inaudible), our football not what they call football.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love to watch it, but I don't understand it too much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would like to learn more about it (inaudible)?

OHLMEYER: We were on the mission that took us very close to saying screw the football fan, because she's going to come anyway. What we need to do was appeal to women. We needed to appeal to the casual football fan, that's why we started telling stories to humanize to players.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your name is one of the greatest of all time. Unfortunately he's legs did not go with that arm.

OHLMEYER: To the things that people associate with.

SHATNER: They recognize this fellow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's been your view of this American professional football thing?

JOHN LENNON: It's an amazing event, sites it makes rock concerns look like Tea Parties.

PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON: I'd like to have your job, you know, be sport caster.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That show become week after week one of the most highly rated shows in America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, the lights on...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It showed football was an entertainment experience on part with any prime time show you could imagine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe it was better because you didn't know how it was going to end.

MIKE WALLACE, CBC NEWS: 60 Minutes decided to appear into the electronic future, to take a look what maybe in store for television viewers in the decade of the '70s. It is television by cable, a communication revolution that could radically alter our way of life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cable for quarter of century, there's nothing distinctive about it. Just the way for you to get what everybody else can already get. And that's the way it is up until...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to Home Box Office subscription television. MESCE: HBO's debut is November 8th 1972. And it is not an overnight success.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Presenting the Pennsylvania Polka Festival.

MESCE: And author repeated saying was getting people to pay for T.V. would like getting on pay for air.

SHALES: Saturday morning they were play band music and you can see slides of noting I thought would.

MESCE: Nobody knew what you can do. Nobody knew what you couldn't do. But you were desperately trying not to be commercial television.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How much time we got.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen Robert Klein.

KLEIN: The beauty of it was you didn't have to pack everything quickly, you can warmup and get to know and take the stage so to speak.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The talk shows are OK, you know, when I do the tonight show is to, tell me I have to be funny in a hurry and gets so little time, six minutes and boom, boom, boom.

KLEIN: It wasn't just contrived. It was a full-throated performance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not regular television, it's subscription, you can say anything...

SHALES: Plus you're not using public air waves.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The SCC can't regulate your content.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I understand you had two orgasms yesterday. Can you tell us about them?

SHALES: HBO gave cable something to sell. You were getting movies uncut in your home, all the naughty bits intact.

And in September 1975 we debut coast to coast with the Thrilla in Manila, one of the old time classic heavy weight fight. Frazier-Ali and that's when the HBO sports.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's all over and Muhammad Ali at the end of the 14th round. Had a huge (inaudible).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Before that you're counting growth in tens of thousands of subscribers. After that you're counting in millions. That's really day one for both businesses. HBO and the cable industry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you're a fan. What you'll see on the next minutes to follow may convince you you've gone to sport heaven. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the mid '70s in the sports world they were just these three giants CBC, ABC, NBC. And then in Connecticut somebody got to hold on transponder.

BILL RASMUSSEN, CO-FOUNDER ESPN: The picture you're watching right now has been taken by a camera sensor of sophisticated equipment to this earth transmitting station.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This guy Bill Rasmussen, who've been fired from his job and just trying to figure out a way to deliver local cable sports. Then when they found out about the satellite they said "So, can we cover the whole state?" And the guy looked at him and said "No, you don't understand".

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For another $0.25 or whatever if the send us all of the country and they went "Oh gee, why would they want to that." They didn't quite know what they had.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he round up revolutionizing television sports.

GEORGE GRANDE, ESPN: Welcome everyone to the ESPN Sport Center. In this very desk in the coming weeks and months we'll be filling you in on the polls of sporting activity, not only around the country but around the world as well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They didn't have the money to go out and buy baseball games or NFL games. What they did do was they took all of the leftover out there.

JOE BOYLE: And I'm Joe Boyle and I'll be handling the play by play for tonight's game between the Badgers and the Blue Demons.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That gave birth to arguably the greatest media success story of all time.

WALLACE: At its best cable television could provide a refreshing relief from the trend toward bigness, toward centralization.

[21:50:06] At its worst cable T.V. could evade our privacy, tranquilize our children, remove us electronically from the flesh and blood world and would have to pay for the privilege. The question is indeed, will the miracle be managed?


BIANCULLI: The best thing the PBS did for adults in the '70s was the mini series. The idea of novel's for television.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good evening I'm Alex D. Cook (ph). We're at the 9th episode of I Claudius. We have to put up a sign, discretion is advice.

GOLLIGAN: I was not allowed to watch it because it has the nudity in it. I very much wanted to.

ALAN SEPINWALL, TELEVISION CRITIC: Rather than trying to come up the show that will run for years and years. It was this idea that here's a limited story, we're going to tell it in X number of episode and let just do this one self contained thing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With all the things during the reign of my mad brother that we got otherwise have done.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It look cheap, it was the script and performances that mattered. In another word it could be good for you. But it was fun at the same time.

The mini series in such a huge success for public television. ABC was the network that hit gold with Rich Man, Poor Man.

[21:55:00] ED ASNER, ACTOR RICH MAN POOR MAN: Or even tell a story that isn't controlled by the clock. Characters could grow, change, and differ.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Alice I want to talk to you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About making an honest man out of me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a subject they really discuss in the nude.

MILLER: What we saw in the '70s was, at the big event television, if it was done right and if it was compelling the audience kept on coming back and back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here you have topics that start to get serious and important and ground breaking for television.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no wife left here and I don't want harm to come to you because of me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I won't -- I won't listen to this.

FLOYD KALBER, NBC NEWS: The majority reaction to the Holocaust program has been positive. It has not been without debate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With Holocaust, the heat was you shouldn't even touch this subject. It's disrespectful but finally the thinking was "No, to not talk about it would be disrespectful to not perpetuate the memory for another generation, so if you're too young to know. Here's a depiction."

FRED FRANCIS, NBC NEWS: Not since the war have a motions been so high in Germany. The Holocaust telecast caused heated discussion. It's most tangible political effect was shown when the German legislature debated the search for Nazi War criminals. Holocaust made it easier for law-makers to vote to continue the hunt for Nazis.

KLEIN: Holocaust brought it home and made it real even though it was a Hollywood creation.

DAVID HARTMAN, NBC NEWS: Sunday night, Roots begins in eight parts on ABC. If it sounds like I'm plugging up, I am. Basically, television will never be the same again.

GRAHAM: There was really no bigger television events than Roots. It was based on a 1976 book by Alex Haley about his family in Africa and coming to America as slaves and then, what happened to them as centuries go on.

BURTON: I will go to my grave believing that Roots is American's story, not just black American's story.

JOHN AMOS, ACTOR, ROOTS: We might have come over in the bottom of the ship but we all came over on ships.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your name means "stay put" but it don't mean stay a slave.

BURTON: As a 19-year old kid, you know, this is my first job.

We're not children, we're very close to being men, Yoboto.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's your name?

BURTON: Kunta. Kunta Kinte.

AMOS: The character that I've got to portrait in Roots, Kunta Kinte the adult was a dream role.

BURTON: It was a really a genius to cast all of America's favorite television dads in the rules of the white slave owners and the villains.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope you buy a (inaudible) in the morning Calvin (ph). Sleep well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is difficult to explain in today's culture how unprecedented Roots was. No one had ever seen the story of slavery before told from the point of view of the Africans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It may be the first time that television allowed an embracing of black pride.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the reasons that Roots was so incredibly popular is not because ABC has so much faith in it but because ABC didn't.

BURTON: Earlier, many series were broadcast in weekly installments and the ABC executives determine that if Roots were to fail, they could just be done with it in seven or eight nights.

CONNELLY: It was high risk high reward, if didn't work, you were at a lot of T.V. time and not many people watching.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The television premiere on eight consecutive nights attracted the largest audience in the history of the medium.

ALEX HALEY, AUTHOR ROOTS: There is something about it that seems to touch all human beings. It turns in (ph) age and race.

BURTON: Entertainment was meeting humanity and I think that's the primary value is to lead humanity forward.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If there's a legacy of television in the '70s, it's that you matter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: While there's a lot going on in the world, television was a reminder of how much little things mean to us, the smallest of situations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No matter what the subject matter was, it wanted to include you -- you're in the family. Don't make fun of the outsider include them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Its legacy is look how long it lasted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Their shows -- they're about people who were kind and nice. They were not mean spirited shows.

BURTON: It was a certain elegance to that. I kind of miss it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That was so delicious, five different flavors. (Inaudible) would sit in that in another table with (inaudible) Jefferson Pratt, remember him? He was kind to get my attention so (inaudible).