Brave New World (1973-74) “Who loves ya, baby?” – NYPD Lt. Theodore "Teddy" Kojack (Telly Savalas), Kojack Desilu, at the beginning of the 1973-74 season, had four series on the air: Mannix, Night Gallery, The Way of the Warrior, and Re-Genesis. A fifth series, Rock Around the Clock, would premiere in mid-season, as a reaction to the smash success of American Graffiti. However, Re-Genesis was failing to attract audiences, who found the fish-out-of-water aspects of the series unappealing, and the setting in general lacking in the sense of wonderment and adventure that had so defined Star Trek. It didn’t help matters that showrunner Gene Roddenberry had largely left the show to its own devices while working on another pitch he had previously been promised, which eventually evolved into a pilot movie called The Questor Tapes. The premise featured an advanced android, the last of a long line built by an ancient alien race, whose mission was to protect mankind, though without their knowledge; while, at the same time, desiring to learn more about humanity. It was the final culmination of a story idea that Roddenberry had been developing for several years.  Gene L. Coon had co-written the Questor pilot, which would air on January 23, 1974, on NBC; he had also written the series bible. Though he was dying of terminal lung cancer at the time the pilot movie was shot, it was decided that he would be credited as the co-creator of the show. Roddenberry was displeased that 50% of the creator royalties would thus be siphoned off to the Coon estate, but many of those at Desilu found it entirely appropriate.  One last idea had caught the attention of Desilu: Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets, and a consulting puppeteer on Star Trek (whose moving performance of the sehlat character, I-Chaya, had imbued the classic episode “Yesteryear” with such pathos and vulnerability), having exhausted all of his other options, finally approached “The House That Paladin Built”. He had good reason to be hesitant, for he had devised a variety series that would star his Muppet creations, and Desilu had never before produced a such a program. Indeed, Lucille Ball was a firm believer in comedy as a deliberate and thoroughly rehearsed process; it remained one of the few major disappointments of her producing career when her friend Carol Burnett had declined to star in a sitcom vehicle for Desilu, instead opting to star in her own variety series, which had been running since 1967. Herb F. Solow had explained all of this when Henson had tentatively approached him in 1972, in the midst of the studio’s plans for expansion, with the idea. Given the wealth of other potential projects, his proposal was politely declined, and he was forced to go elsewhere. Meanwhile, Desilu continued to boom, thanks in large part to the continuous cash receipts from Star Trek, complemented nicely by the new wave of syndication revenues from the recently-cancelled (and “stripped”) Mission: Impossible. This opened the door for yet more pilots the following year. One slot had been promised to Roddenberry, as part of the Re-Genesis deal, and another space was suddenly filled when Rock Around the Clock got the green-light, but there would still be room for one more. Solow, who liked Henson and believed that his idea had a great deal of potential, agreed to develop a pilot. Lucille Ball, for her part, was highly reluctant to approve The Muppet Show, but was finally convinced when Henson explained that the “variety show”, far from being spontaneous and live-on-the-air, would be meticulously written and rehearsed, filmed in the traditional three-camera format, and would even interlink the variety material with sitcom-style, behind-the-scenes segments. This convinced Ball to go ahead with the pilot movie, which would air on January 30, 1974, on ABC;  a full season order was beyond even Ball’s considerable powers, as that was the way so many television series were sold in the 1970s. It was to her pleasant surprise, then, that both pilot movies were very well-received, by critics and audiences alike, and were picked up for full-season orders. By the end of the season, Desilu would have six series in production: Mannix, Night Gallery, The Way of the Warrior, Rock Around the Clock, The Questor Tapes, and The Muppet Show – the most since the studio’s heyday in the early 1960s. (Re-Genesis had been cancelled due to low ratings, continuing a worrying trend of all non-anthology, non-import science-fiction series since Star Trek failing to last for more than one season). Assuming that they were able to maintain their present level of success, this diversity of programming, along with the resources at the studio’s disposal (in particular their spacious backlot), and the wide array of alternative income sources (such as merchandising and post-production services), Desilu was poised to emerge as one of the most powerful studios in Hollywood, even in the face of the strongest recession in decades. Paramount, on the other hand, was increasingly forced to contract as Desilu expanded, given their shared studio space, under the terms of the original 1967 contract between the two companies. It was not the first time that Gulf+Western chief executive Charles Bluhdorn bitterly regretted that he had been unable to convince Ball to sell her studio. Paramount also was facing a major public-relations problem. The birth rate, previously in a steep decline, had recovered somewhat from its late-1960s doldrums; though certainly not restored to Baby Boom levels, the appreciable increase of the early 1970s would later be described by demographers and sociologists as the “mini-boom” or the “boomlet”. But Paramount was a studio that seemed resolutely committed to portraying the lives of singletons, or childless couples.  None of the many single characters on Mary Tyler Moore were in so much as long-term relationships, and indeed one of the show’s few married regulars, Lou Grant, had separated from his wife. The prohibition imposed on Bob Newhart by the eponymous star against children held firm, even though, in that case, the writers were more than willing to populate the show with progeny. But Barefoot in the Park remained the most visible example of what social critics described as the “anti-family” policies at Paramount. Finally caving to public pressure – or, more likely, network pressure, as Barefoot was the studio’s lowest-rated sitcom – the lead couple became pregnant in the 1972-73 season, delivering their baby, a son named Grant, after Paramount Television head Grant Tinker, in the season finale (“Grant was always the biggest baby”, his wife Mary Tyler Moore joked on the choice of name). The subsequent season then made raising a child the central focus of the series. Ratings did not appreciably improve, however, and it would be the last in the five-season run of Barefoot. Room 222, the other inaugural Paramount Television series, would also last five seasons, leaving the studio with only four shows in production at the end of the 1973-74 season: Mary Tyler Moore, Bob Newhart, The Odd Couple, and the newly-developed Mary Tyler Moore spinoff Rhoda, which (to stave off further complaints) featured its lead character entering into a steady relationship with a divorced father in the pilot, with plans for them to marry before the end of the first season. Desilu and Paramount were far from the only studios in Hollywood, of course. Norman Lear’s studio, Tandem, naturally addressed social concerns the most directly, and bluntly. Those Were The Days, which had always sought to reflect the lives of those people it claimed to represent, also featured a pregnancy storyline. Gloria was discovered to be pregnant in late 1973, during her husband’s final year of graduate school. The child was delivered on March 16, 1974, the exact same day as her husband’s graduation ceremony, to the expected hijinks. Adding the baby character – also a son, named Michael, after the original “Richard” analogue from Til Death Us Do Part – was described by some commentators as “penance” for the hugely controversial and infamous abortion storyline in Maude.  Norman Lear vehemently denied these insinuations, but there was an ulterior motive to the addition of baby Michael. Once the Oil Crisis had hit, the original raison d’être of Those Were the Days – to promote the positive change brought about by modern society – found itself quickly becoming obsolete. Times were tough, and Carroll O’Connor knew that, in order to keep Those Were the Days fresh and relevant, it would have to pull back on the preaching and emphasize stronger characterization. At least in the short-term, it worked, as Those Were the Days repeated for the third consecutive season as the top-rated show on television. Sanford and Son also maintained its position at #2; Maude, on the other hand, fell out of the Top Ten.  Universal Television, one of the more successful small-screen subsidiaries of a movie studio, launched an intriguing new action-adventure program named Kojack, which starred veteran Greek-American character actor Telly Savalas, best known for his completely bald head. Once again, the series started life as a pilot movie, adapted from the notorious real-life “Career Girls” murders of 1963. The resulting series would frequently dramatize institutionalized discrimination, and the delicate balancing act between the rights of the suspect and the duties of the police to effectively investigate crimes. Despite these stirring ethical questions, the show functioned largely as a star vehicle for the suave and charismatic Savalas. The actor had once portrayed James Bond’s arch-nemesis, Ernst Stavro Blofeld; but his character here certainly had the same effortless appeal of 007, with his famous catchphrase: “Who loves ya, baby?” The program became an instant hit, and the top-rated new show of the season, finishing at #5 overall.  As always, the studios and their measures of success differed quite sharply from those of the networks. NBC was doing moderately well, though still down somewhat from their highs in the late 1960s and early 1970s; and increasingly reliant on their reputation as the network of “Negroes, Blacks, and Coloreds”, which fueled great ambivalence among executives. Sanford remained their biggest hit, with Flip Wilson also finishing in the Top 10 (the Peacock network having four representatives total within those ranks). The Bill Cosby Show also remained in the Top 30, one of nine such shows on the network. CBS had the other six Top 10 shows, including the #1 show on the air, and four of the Top Five. Altogether, the network had eleven shows in the Top 30.  The remaining ten shows in the Top 30 naturally aired on ABC, though for the second season in a row, they were once again shut out of the Top 10 (their top-rated show – also Desilu’s top-rated show – was the mid-season replacement, Rock Around the Clock, at #12; they also aired the studio’s only other Top 30 hit, The Way of the Warrior, at #27).  But desperate times often called for desperate measures; and willingness to take risks had always distinguished the Alphabet Network, with The Muppet Show being only the most recent example. At that season’s Emmy Awards, Mary Tyler Moore edged out Those Were the Days to win Outstanding Comedy Series. It would be the second series win for the show. The eponymous lead actress also won for Outstanding Lead Actress, though all other acting awards within the Comedy category went to the cast of Those Were the Days: Carroll O’Connor for Lead Actor, Richard Dreyfuss for Supporting Actor, and Penny Marshall for Supporting Actress.  On the Drama side of the ledger, Kojack, the breakout hit of the season, and Telly Savalas, its star, won the Emmys for Series and Lead Actor respectively.  The Carol Burnett Show repeated for Outstanding Variety Series. ---  IOTL, an earlier iteration of what eventually became Questor was known as “Assignment: Earth”, which Roddenberry independently attempted to sell, but had no luck. He would then rework the pilot script into a backdoor pilot, which marked the finale of the second season of Star Trek. None of this happens ITTL, because Star Trek did well enough that Roddenberry didn’t see the need to sell “Assignment: Earth” (as Star Trek was considered a sure bet for cancellation before all those fan letters started coming in).  Why? Because Roddenberry had quite deviously arranged to write lyrics to the Theme from Star Trek, whose melody was written by Alexander Courage, over vehement objection from the latter (after all, said lyrics – leaving aside any objections as to their quality – were never used, to the point that Courage alone is usually credited for the composition of the song). Coon, though co-writing the pilot IOTL, was credited only for the teleplay; his several additional months of life permit him a more active role in the show’s development ITTL, to the point that a case for his co-creator status can be made (and is made, by his friends Solow and Justman, Desilu’s attorneys, and the WGA).  The first of two pilot specials for what would eventually become The Muppet Show aired on this date IOTL. It was called “The Muppets Valentine Show”, and featured Mia Farrow. Note that ABC is in far more dire straits ITTL, and is thus willing to take a chance on a full-season commitment (with prodding from the higher-ups at Desilu, that is).  This is a trend that carries over from MTM shows IOTL, and here is amplified by applying it to at least one native Paramount production (Barefoot). The “childfree” policy on MTM was presumably due to the like-minded decision by Grant Tinker and Mary Tyler Moore to have no children of their own (both had children from previous marriages). They could have decided differently ITTL, given the atmosphere of the early 1970s, but assuming that they hold to their OTL decision allows for a more intriguing juxtaposition.  Yes, the abortion storyline happened more-or-less on schedule IOTL. And as to specifics with regards to landmark rulings related to that subject ITTL… I’ll let you know about those right after I fill you in on the membership of the Humphrey Cabinet. (And if you still feel the need to discuss the subject, may I kindly direct you to the Chat forum?)  IOTL, Sanford was at #3, behind The Waltons (ITTL, Spencer’s Mountain, which here finishes at #3), and Maude was #6 (one of the shows it finished behind was M*A*S*H, at #4). Maude fares more poorly here because it is a show about wealthy suburbanites, compared to the other two Tandem shows, which have working-class protagonists.  Kojack finished at #7 IOTL, still enough to be the highest-rated new show of the season (the one remaining Top Five show ITTL is Hawaii Five-O at #4).  In the 1973-74 season IOTL, CBS had a whopping seventeen shows in the Top 30, and nine in the Top 10 alone, including the top-rated All in the Family (and now you see why Fred Silverman was so revered); ABC followed with nine in the Top 30, though they were (once again) shut out of the Top 10 (the mid-season replacement The Six Million Dollar Man was their highest-rated show at #11); and NBC carried a mere four shows in the Top 30, though they did manage one show in the Top 10, preventing CBS from pulling off a clean sweep: Sanford and Son at #3 (and now you see why NBC was in such dire straits in the 1970s). Among the shows on the air IOTL that were not ITTL: Here’s Lucy (never aired), Gunsmoke (cancelled in 1971), and M*A*S*H (never aired). Note that all three of these shows were in the Top 30 and aired on CBS.  Happy Days finished at #16 in its inaugural season IOTL; Kung Fu, as ITTL, was at #27. Night Gallery was cancelled in 1973 (after a prolonged power struggle between Serling and producers, which does not happen here), Genesis II never aired as a regular series, and Mannix failed to reach the Top 30 (as ITTL).  IOTL, M*A*S*H won for Outstanding Comedy Series and for Lead Actor (Alan Alda). Rob Reiner did win Supporting Actor, whereas Cloris Leachman won for Supporting Actress. The pregnancy storyline gives both O’Connor and Marshall far more Emmy bait relative to OTL storylines, which allows them both (and Marshall in particular) to edge out the competition – Jack Klugman and Leachman, respectively (Leachman quite transparently won because of the episode in which she discovers that her husband is cheating on her with Sue Ann Nivens – I couldn’t avoid giving her the Oscar, but at least I’ve taken one of her many undeserved Emmys away).  Savalas also won IOTL, but the Series Emmy went to Upstairs, Downstairs. --- Despite considerable changes in the outside world, day-to-day life in Hollywood remains much the same; the people of the industry are rather cloistered on those pedestals of theirs. That said, production companies are as accountable to the fickle whims of the public as any other business, even if they are not so willing to record their assets, liabilities, revenues, or expenses in anything remotely resembling an honest or transparent manner. If this update was intended to get any particular theme across, that would be the one. Of course, economic downturns usually take some time to sink in to the popular consciousness, so we will continue to see major changes in the next broadcast season. One of several demographic changes I’ve posited for this timeline is the “mini-boom” of the early 1970s. Births usually tend to rise with the conclusion of foreign entanglements, and with a good economy, both of which are in evidence here. Also, a large cohort of people are coming of age, and more of them relative to OTL are choosing to settle down and start a family. Obviously, the mitigating factors of OTL (widespread birth control, environmentalism, women’s liberation, etc.) are in evidence, and act as ballast to prevent the birthrate from returning to Baby Boom levels. My rough estimate would be an average of 20 births per 1,000 throughout the early 1970s. This is why the Koenigs (among many other OTL couples) decided “let’s have one more”, which is a fairly common expression in the era. Several of my readers could quite possibly have a younger sibling ITTL. Also, a clerical note: from this point forward, the names of all television series will be listed in italics, rather than quotation marks (excluding featured shows like Star Trek). This adds consistency, and is easier to type (even IMDb, which formerly used quotation marks for television series, appears to have abandoned them). Thank you all for your patience, and for your tireless discussion even in the absence of new material. The next update, our return to a beloved British franchise, should be ready in the next few days.