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Another TV season By Steve Barthelme A review Austin I parked the Lancia, sniftered a light brandy, pushed the collected works off the bedside table, and watched this season’s new TV shows. I perceived which new shows would be renewed and which would not. I mentioned some stuff from my higher life, to prove I had one. We are ready to go. We start with the successes because they are less interesting than the failures. Among the successes, we proceed from least to most interesting. An orientation paragraph. THE LEAST interesting of the less interesting must be The Invisible Man. David McCallum stars. The series runs \(in Barbary Coast, another new one, and Rhoda and Phyllis, old and new half hours. The Invisible Man’s imminent success is largely due to the fact that children prefer technology to history. Also the fact that Barbary Coast is a lousy show. Because they lack imagination, adults will watch Rhoda and then swap wives, abuse children, mix margaritas, play backgammon, or look out the window for half an hour. Joe Forrester stars Lloyd Bridges as a neighborhood cop. It follows Police Story. Two Police Stories in a row. A scheduling trick akin to slipstreaming which produces success, in many cases. With that and Lloyd Bridges’ peculiar charisma, how can they go wrong? Starsky and Hutch is a “happy news” show in cop drag. It is real bad, but renewable. Jack Palance plays the lead in Bronk. The mayor’s cop. Can a generation which learned everything it knows from Jack on Bronk? Possible. The episode I saw could have used some work. Palance is right for successful, maybe even good, television, but something else is required, a kind of imaginative energy that is evident in all good TV. Kojak, Baretta, Rockford Files, Name of the Game, The Avengers all have had it. Some years back Robert Wagner played the thief in It Takes a Thief, a very good and very successful series. This year he plays essentially the same role in Switch private investigators. Eddie Albert is present mostly to make Wagner look good. I guess. Switch will do poorly in the ratings, but will be moved in midwinter to a more advantageous time slot, where it will be renewed. “We feel the show has potential,” a CBS man will say. Medical Story uses the “anthology” format different stars each week. Medicine and practioners come in for a rough time. A slick production, in which doctors and such look bad, and young idealists point it out. Unnecessary operations and economic considerations. Much is borrowed from Paddy Chayevsky’s The Hospital, a 1971 film. George Peppard also borrows, but his series will be dealt with in the failures section. Medical Story will be renewed. Even though the series is cliched, backward \(young idealists are not what we want they too easily turn into brown the medical profession trashed. Maybe they will stop whispering. So much for success. Many new shows cry out to be cancelled. Among the least interesting of these are Three For the Road, The Family Holvak, Welcome Back Kotter, Joe and Sons, Big Eddie, Mobile One, Swiss Family Robinson, Doc, and Barbary Coast. Of these, you can save one. Any one, I do not care. Watching sit-corns or family programming, or any show without stylized sex and violence calls for a don’t enjoy. Other failures inspire more interest. A new fourth Sunday Mystery Movie called McCoy stars Tony Curtis as con-man, imposter, investigator, etc. While it might be better than watching Columbo snare another snob, McCoy has no future because it is in the every fourth week format and because Tony Curtis is not made for TV. Anne Meara stars as a lawyer in Kate McShane. Anne Meara is all right, but the show is not. If the copywriters who do her dictaphone ads could be retained to write Kate McShane, it might have a chance. They won’t be. As it stands, the series is a kind of Ladies’ Home Journal of television. Competent, but late and slow. Cancelled. Fay is a new sit-corn starring Lee Grant as a divorced woman getting out into the world. It has already been cancelled. The great American public was not sympathetic to Lee Grant wasting her not inconsiderable talents. Howard Cosell was interesting in 1963 on radio, broadcasting heavyweight boXing. As he rises in the celebrity game, many of us are left wondering. Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell will be cancelled quickly. Cosell’s career is easily explained in terms of our journalist surplus. Don’t take my word for it. Bill’s Law states that when half the stories in your national magazines are about journalists, you have too many journalists. Doctor’s Hospital stars George Peppard. Banacek goes to Bellevue. Again the dirty black hearts of doctors are reviewed. But this series has its wires crossed. The soft writing and soft acting appeal to people who like doctors, that is, who are soft in the head. The meanness in Doctor’s Hospital violates its basic appeal. That and George Peppard ought to be enough to kill it. I FORGOT Phyllis. It was easy. Phyllis was spun off from the Mary Tyler Moore Show, and stars Cloris Leachman. Fresh from the cover of Newsweek. Scheduled between Rhoda and All in the Family, it will be cancelled anyway, because it is not funny and because Cloris someone one wants to look at for half an hour. Phyllis started the season as the highest rated new show, so this must be wishful thinking. Mel Brooks’ When Things Were Rotten tries to make fun of the Robin Hood legend. Fun is not made. Something is made, but it is not fun. It is tiresome. It is slapstick, and not very good slapstick. When Howard Cosell goes to Las Vegas, Mel Brooks will go with him. They may be joined there by Cloris Leachman and Peter Falk. “Now when I was on the cover of Newsweek,” they will all say. Beacon Hill has a single virtue, which is that it is different. The difference will carry you through a single episode. Your second and following episodes have a sort of Pavlovian effect hearing the opening music, you tend to slump to the floor. Beacon Hill is a dressed up soap opera, Dallas has more cars per capita than Los Angeles. There is one car to every two people in Dallas. The exact ratio is 1.9 people for each car in Dallas as compared to 2.0 in Los,Angeles and 2.2 nationally. October 17, 1975 23