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When Hit TV Shows Return

I Dream of Jeanie's sisterOn “I Dream of Jeannie,” what was Jennie’s sister’s name?
According to the International Barbara Eden Appreciation Society, she didn’t have one.  In copies of the original scripts that the organization has, Jeannie’s sister (also played by Eden) is referred to as either “Jeannie 2” or “II.”

On “The Flintstones,” what did Barney Rubble do for a living?
According to Hanna-Barbera Productions, the short answer is that Barney worked at the quarry with Fred.  However, over the course of the 166 original episodes of the series, Barney’s occupation often fluctuated.  In one episode, it is mentioned that Barney was a geological engineer; in another, he’s a repossessor and, once, he even claimed to do “top secret” work for the government.  In one episode, Barney is seen as Fred’s boss at the quarry.  Such changeable “facts” about TV shows and their characters are not uncommon, just frustrating when it comes to answering questions like this!

What’s the longest running series in history?
This question gets tricky depending on how it is asked.  The longest running series in TV history is NBC’s “Meet the Press” which began on the TV airwaves in 1947 and is still on the air.  “Press” will soon become the longest-running show in broadcasting history but, for now, that title belongs to the soap opera “Guiding Light” because “Light” was on radio for 19 years (1937-1956) and was then on TV (for a time overlapping with the radio incarnation) for 52 years (1952-2009).  That’s a grand total of 71 years.

The longest-running show in primetime TV is “The Simpsons” which began in 1989 and is still going strong.  That is 28 uninterrupted years.  In terms of the longest-running live-action show though that title is currently shared between was the western “Gunsmoke,” which began on the air in 1955 and didn’t sign off until 1975, and the original “Law & Order” that also ran for two decades, 1990 to 2010.  At the rate the “Law & Order” spin-off “Law & Order:  SVU” is going, it might overtake its parent, however; “SVU” is currently in its 18th season.

Turn On TV ShowWhat’s the shortest running show in TV history?
Believe it or not, the infamous 1969 ABC sketch show, “Turn On,” was, basically, cancelled during its debut episode on February 5, 1969 as network affiliates across the nation and the network got angry viewer responses to the debut episode of the racy “Laugh-In” knockoff.  Though the program’s first episode was seen in full on the east coast, it was often preempted before it could be begun/shown in certain western time zones!

“Turn On’s” is an extreme case but it was not the first show to have its first show be its last show.
Two early games shows bit the dust after just one airing.  ABC’s “Fun and Fortune” began and ended on June 6, 1949 and a panel show on CBS titled “Who’s Whose” never made it beyond its first episode on June 25, 1951.

On “Get Smart,” what was Agent 99’s real name?
Actually (sort of like Jeannie), it was never given. 

Though in one episode, she says her name is “Susan Hilton,” 99 (Barbara Feldon) later states that that was just an alias for that particular mission.

The producers of the series went to great lengths to keep 99 nameless.  When she married Max late in the series’ run, the part of 99’s vows where she states her name was drowned out by someone’s snorting and coughing.  When 99’s mother visited, she always referred to her daughter only as “dear,” “darling” or something term of endearment, never by her name.

What is the story behind the famous three-note chimes sound used by NBC?
Originally over the NBC radio network, the staff announcer on duty would read the call letters of all NBC stations carrying the program.  As the network acquired new stations however this became impossible and confusion reigned over how to alert an affiliate station when the station break was coming.  A signal of some sort was needed.  So, in 1929, after some trial and error, a three-note series of chimes was struck upon.  Hence the dulcet tones of G-E-C became the calling card of the NBC network.

Who were the first couple to be seen sharing a bed on TV?
According to most accounts, Mary Kay Stearns and Johnny Stearns, a married couple in real life and the stars of their own 1947-1950 situation comedy, “Mary Kay and Johnny,” were often seen sharing the same marital bed.  It must have come in handy since Mary Kay and Johnny’s real-life baby son, Christopher William Stearns, made his debut on this parents’ show only a few days after being born in 1949.

And, actually, though they were usually seen in twin beds, from time to time Lucy and Ricky were seen in the same bed in some episodes of “I Love Lucy.”

As far as TV characters regularly being seen sharing the same bed, that honor probably belongs to Herman and Lily Munster of “The Munsters” which began in 1964.  Perhaps the cartoon-ish nature of that program alleviated any moral concern on the part of network censors.

 

And a few things you might never have wondered about but are still kinda interesting….

Did you ever notice that all of the Muppets are left-handed?
Well, they are and that’s for a simple reason—because most puppeteers are right-handed.  People who are right-handed tend to have greater strength and dexterity in their right hand while “lefties” tend to have greater strength and dexterity in their left.  In puppetry, it is consider more important to articulate the face of the puppet rather than its hands.  Therefore, right-handed puppeteers usually place their right hand in the head of the puppet.  That means that only the puppeteer’s left hand is free to operate arm and hand movements.  For the puppeteer to make the puppet right-handed, they would have to reach across themselves with their left hand rather than just sticking their left hand straight up.  For this reason, for comfort and convenience, Kermit and all the rest of the crew are left-handed.

ABC news and their news shows like “20/20” always have a heavy blue color scheme.  Is there a reason for this?
Yes, there is! At one time, during the golden age of radio, the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) was so powerful and widespread that they actually broadcast two completely separate programming line-ups over two separate series of local stations (i.e. a network of stations) across the country.  The company kept track of which stations broadcast which series via a map of the country and noted one network with red push-pins and the other with blue push-pins.

In 1941, stating that the ownership of two broadcasting systems could be considered a monopoly, the FCC forced NBC to sell off one of its two networks.  Since the company’s red network was larger and more successful, they of course chose to hang onto that one and sell of the “blue.”  The Blue Network eventually became the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) and in homage to their origins, the general color scheme of the network has remained blue.

NBC PeacockWhy is NBC’s logo a peacock?
Though color broadcasting, as opposed to black-and-white, came to NBC in 1953, the network didn’t make a special effort to herald its color broadcasting (or “Living Color” as they called it) until 1956 with the introduction of their peacock logo—after all, what’s more proud and colorful than a peacock?

The original bird graphic was, of course, multi-colored and had eleven feathers.  The logo was first animated by the network in 1957.  Over the years, the peacock’s look has continued to change and evolve, usually simplified.  The logo that is used today was introduced in 1986 and has six feathers which—at the time—represented the six divisions of the NBC network.

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