What fun! I found a 1978 TV Guide highlighting the new fall season. I doubt you’ll remember some of these winners:
The Waverly Wonders
Joe Namath makes his TV debut as a washed-up professional basketball player named Joe who takes a job at Waverly High School. The principal insists that he also teach history and he says, “The only reason I majored in history was they had the best-looking girls.” What?! Despite stellar writing like this, the show didn’t make it?
Who’s Watching the Kids
Stacy and Angie, showgirls at a seedy Las Vegas club called Club Sand Pile, share an apartment with 16-year-old Scott Baio’s character, Frankie Viola and his little sister, Melissa. While the showgirls work, a newscaster named Larry babysits the kids. Certainly sounds plausible. I can’t believe this show didn’t make it, either.
Sword of Justice
What worked for the Count of Monte Cristo, the Scarlet Pimpernel and Zorro ought to be good enough for Jack Cole, a wealthy playboy imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. He is released from jail and seeks revenge, which he enjoys so much that he decides to do it full time – dressed in tennis gear or carrying a polo mallet, and leaving a playing card wherever he strikes. I hope, hope, hope this was intended to be a comedy. The picture of the cast is even funnier than the premise!
But television in 1978 wasn’t as bad as those three premieres would lead you to believe. It was also the debut of Taxi, Mork & Mindy, Vegas, Battlestar Gallactica, and mini-series such as Brave New World, From Here to Eternity, Ike, Little Women, Roots: The Next Generation, and Centennial. And this was the year that blockbuster movies such as One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Rocky, and Carrie hit the small screen. Those were big events back in the days before VCRs were common household appliances. How big? NBC paid $5 million to air Gone With the Wind in 1976. In 1978, CBS paid $35 million to air it over the next 20 years.
What else happened on TV in 1978? Farrah Fawcett returned for three episodes of Charlie’s Angels; The Lawrences adopted Quinn on Family; the Ingalls adopted Albert on Little House on the Prairie; Mike and Gloria moved out on All in the Family; and Grandpa Walton died.