for is right here:
with video from the collection of Jeff Vilencia
It was a daring concept for an uncertain time; a weekly series of original movies produced especially for television. But this expensive gamble delivered top-ten ratings for several years beginning in 1969.
The films themselves varied wildly in quality, but the promos used to lure audiences to the couch stand today as state of the art examples of superlative advertising. In addition, the animated opening sequence to the ABC Movie of the Week was a magnificent graphic achievement and a precursor to modern computer animation techniques.
In the 1950s, anthology programs like Playhouse 90 and GE Theater began to lose popularity in favor of weekly series with regular characters and consistent storylines. This occurred just as theatrical movies were finally becoming available for television, drawing large audiences for all three networks starting in the early-sixties.
Ironically, it was NBC and Universal that pioneered the made-for-TV movie. Universal Studios had an entertainment factory going full trottle, but the market for small, inexpensive films was drying up by the mid-sixties. NBC and Universal reasoned they could produce original films for the same amount of money the studios were charging just for the broadcast rights to major motion pictures.
In October, 1964, the first full-length film produced especially for home delivery debuted - 'See How They Run' starring John Forsyth. Several more popular tele-films followed on NBC. The network also discovered they could use their big event two-hour TV movies as pilots for potential series. 'Fame Is The Name Of The Game' starring Tony Franciosa was the first such pilot to earn a regular series slot on the network (as The Name of The Game).
Watching the success NBC was having with their TV-movie specials, ABC's Barry Diller realized the time was right to update the old anthology format, but with a twist. He scheduled a weekly series of original movies for fall, 1969 - with shorter running times (90 minutes) and strict budgetary restraints to make the productions commercially viable.
Because of the limited budgets (between $400,000 - $450,000 each) Universal declined to partner with ABC for Diller's folly. Lean and hungry independent producers like Aaron Spelling, Quinn-Martin and David Wolper eagerly jumped in, resulting in a more raw-edged product than the blanderized Universal telefilms. That freshness became a key component to the initial success of the overall project.
To open the Tuesday Movie Of The Week, an impressive theme was produced to pull the audience in and give the feeling of big time entertainment.
Film historian Jeff Vilencia tells us: "That opening sequence is one of the very first examples of computer-style animation (it's actually shot with a device that utilizes a series of mirrors). That animation system (called slit-scan) is still in use, I saw a recent IMAX film that used it - it was very cool! It kinda looked like that old ABC Movie of the Week logo."
CBS used this method recently for their year 2000 prime-time logo 'bumpers.'
With the Tuesday Movie of the Week a solid ratings smash, the network added a Wednesday night version three years later. Like NBC, ABC also utilized the forum as an effective platform to audition possible TV series - The Young Lawyers and The Immortal were tested in 1969 and both were given a regular slot in fall, 1970.
In 1971-72, 18 of the 23 top-rated films broadcast on television were ABC MOTWs, thanks in no small part to the fast-paced, 30-second promotional teasers that forever redefined motion picture advertising.
After Bewitched ended in 1972, Elizabeth Montgomery shed her wholesome, sitcom image and became the queen of the TV-movies, playing roles like (supposed) ax murderer Lizzie Borden, a rape victim and a battered wife that fights back.
Taking her lead, forgotten big screen stars and out-of-work TV actors found employment again as telefilm production kicked into high gear.
Familiar faces in unfamiliar circumstances (Harriet Nelson being killed in an interstate pile-up, for instance) proved a winning formula for Nielsen gold.
Lost Kid Shows / Movie Stars on TV / Saturday Morning Shows / Video Vault / Classic Christmas Specials / Fabulous Fifties / Unseen Scenes / Game Shows / Requested Forgotten TV Shows / The Super Sixties / The New * * Shows / 1980's Wrestling / TV Blog
|TV's Embarrassing Moments / Action Shows of the Sixties / TVparty Mysteries and Scandals / Variety Shows of the 1970s / The Eighties / The Laugh Track / 1970's Hit Shows / Response to TVparty / Search the Site / Add Your Comments|
|Classic TV Commercials / 1950's TV / 1960's TV / 1970's TV / TV Games / Honey Boo Boo / Lucy Shows / Classic Cars / John Wayne / Gene Roddenberry / Rockford Files / Sea Hunt / Superman on DVD / Toy Gun Ads / Flip Wilson Show / Big Blue Marble / Monty Hall / Carrascolendas / Mr. Dressup / Major Mudd / Chief Halftown / Baby Daphne / Sheriff John / Winchell & Mahoney / Fireball X-L5 / Mr. Wizard / Captain Noah / Thanksgiving Day Specials / Disney's First Christmas Special / Saturday Morning Cartoons / The Magic Garden / Amahl & the Night Visitors / Holiday Toy Commercials / Lucy & Desi's Last Christmas Show / Joey Heatherton / Fat Albert / The Virginian / Bewitched / Death of John Wayne / 1974 Saturday Mornings / Chuck McCann / Rudolph Collectables / Shrimpenstein / Local Popeye Shows / New Treasure Hunt / 1966 ABC TV Shows / 1967 TV Shows / 1968 TV Shows / Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes & Baby Doll / Fridays / TV Moms / Star Wars / KISS / Lancelot Link / Saturday Morning Cartoons / The Magic Garden / Wonder Woman / Classic Comic Books / Andy Griffith / Cher / TV Shows on DVD / Outtakes & Bloopers / 1967 TV Shows / Romper Room / ABC Movie of the Week / The Goldbergs / Daws Butler Commercials / Saturday Morning Commercials / Captain Kangaroo / Chicago Local Kiddie Shows / Boston Local TV / Philly Local TV / NYC Local Kid Shows / Amos 'n' Andy / Electric Company / Bette Davis / Judy Garland / Christmas Specials / Redd Foxx / Good Times / Sitcom Houses / What's Happening! / Winky Dink & You / Sonny & Cher / Smothers Brothers / Commercial Icons of the 1960s / Soupy Sales / The Carpenters / Route 66 / Bozo / The Carpenters Christmas Specials / Local Kid Shows / Death of TV's Superman / Wonderama / Sesame Street / Bob Hope Specials / Little Rascals / 1980's Retro Gay T-Shirts / 1980's TV Wrestling / Fess Parker / Howdy Doody / TV Blog / Lost In Space / Pinky Lee / 1980's LA Punk Rock / Alex Toth Book / TV Terrorists / Irwin Allen / The Untouchables / Carol Burnett Show / Batman TV Show / Green Hornet / Today Show History / Our Gang / Doris Day Show / 1970's Commercials For Women / Bill Cosby in the 1970s / The Golddiggers / Lola Falana / 1970s TV Shows / David Bowie on TV / Hudson Brothers / Jackie Gleason / Hollywood Squares / Match Game / Bob Keeshan / Gumby / The Flip Wilson Show / Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour / The Bobby Darin Show / The Richard Pryor Show / George Burns / Lucy's Lost Christmas Special / Classic Christmas Toy Commercials / Cricket On The Hearth / 1950's Holiday Shows / Amahl and the Night Visitors / A Christmas Carol on TV / The Yule Log / Celebrity Commercials / Rudolph / Movie Posters & More!|