The origin of the expression 'Hobson's choice' dated back to the 17th century. The vernacular stood for "this or nothing" (or "a choice without an alternative - the thing offered or nothing at all."). It was noted "the expression 'Hobson’s choice' is proverbial both in Europe and America."
Englishman Tobias Hobson died in 1630 was a carrier, carrying mails between the university town of Cambridge and London. He also owned a stable of 40 horses which he hired out to college students on the proviso they could not pick and choose the horses but must take the first one nearest the stable door. Hence 'Hobson's choice'.
In 1916, Harold Brighouse wrote a 3-act play, 'Hobson's Choice' which was made into a motion picture in 1954 directed by David Lean. In 1983, the TV movie, 'Hobson's Choice' was made starring Sharon Gless.
At the time Sharon could also be seen on the TV series, 'Cagney & Lacey'. The series was suddenly canceled after 7 episodes in 1982. The reason being due to lackluster ratings. However "an avalanche of letters" from fans brought the series back to TV in 1984. Sharon made the comment at the time, "We're grateful to the American public. It’s the first time we’ve seen democracy at work on television. People should see what they want to see. Now if the people who wrote in will just get those Nielsen boxes."
Al Waxman argued, "From my point of view, we didn’t do badly. I’m proud of my involvement. The numbers were nothing to be ashamed of. The series garnered a 24 share in the viewer ratings. That translated to between 25 and 30 million people watching each week. What hurt us was we came in after 'Magnum, p.i.' which was a phenomenal success. But 'Magnum' got a 35 share in the viewer ratings and then we dropped to 24...It didn't help to be on the number one network, either. CBS was accustomed to high ratings and the comparisons were tough. So, when the ratings began to waver, the show was yanked before it had a chance to build a following."
On weekdays at the time, the TV drama 'Loving' was also unable to build a following but the network marketing chief insisted, "It takes one to 2 years to build up an audience for a new daytime drama. There is a lot of hoopla about being toppled from the throne, but our research tells us that we're still doing extremely well."