In January 1977 Fred Silverman unveiled the American Broadcasting Company television program schedule to be shown in March that year. There were 5 new series listed: 'Eight Is Enough' based on Tom Braden's autobiographical book, 'Westside Medical', 'Dog and Cat' featuring Kim Basinger, 'The Feather and Father Gang' and 'Future Cop'.

Fred told the press, "The success we are currently enjoying is a direct result of long-term planning to bring as much freshness and diversity to our program schedule as possible. That effort continues with the addition of these 5 series and the many new performers who will be introduced in them. For ABC they represent an extension of the on-air development we have tried successfully in the past with such series as 'Family', and for the viewer they mean a further relaxation of the traditional 'season' concept by making substantially more first-run entertainment available along with fewer reruns."

When the TV pilot movie 'Future Cop' was first shown in July 1976, it ran 3rd only to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game (some 18.9 million homes in the U.S. with TV sets were counted watching) and All-Star pre-game show. Based on the high ratings, ABC commissioned 6 hour-long episodes of 'Future Cop' "to be shown at various times in the weekly schedule." Michael Shannon played "the cop of the future", Officer John Haven, a 100% computerized biosynthetic android, or a programmed product of cybernetics.

Ernest Borgnine played Officer Joe Cleaver. He made the point, "If you bring warmth and plausibility to a product people will recognize it. 'Future Cop' isn't just a cop show. It's wonderfully sympathetic and leaves you with a nice warm feeling. I'm one actor who loves doing a series. Last year (in 1976) I made features and television so I spent only 2 months at home. That's not enough.

"I was in Canada, England, Norway, Italy and Tunisia. The rest of the time I spent in Miami, Houston and Portland. I’d never been so homesick in my life. Doing a series means going to work every day and coming home every night. I spent 4 years in my first series 'McHale's Navy', and I hope this new one runs 10 years. I've done enough traveling to last me a lifetime. It's terrific to sleep in my own bed at night."

After 'Future Cop' wrapped, Ernest went on to star in the movie, 'Convoy'. He recounted, "I go right from one thing to the other without missing a beat. Hell, it doesn’t matter whether it’s television or movies, it’s all acting as long as I’m working at my craft that’s all that matters. Some actors put down episodic TV because they think they get overexposed. People have asked why I decided to accept a cop show when there are so many of them on the air to begin with.

"This is no ordinary cop series. I’d have turned it down if it had been just another run-of-the-mill action show. I've played policemen in movies, 'Law and Disorder' and 'Pay or Die' so I’m back in uniform again. The network is thinking about making me a detective next season (1977-78) if the show is renewed. I play an old-timer on the force with a new young partner who happens to be an android. That's a computer. It’s nothing like a bionic man. And we can't be compared to ‘Holmes and Yoyo’, the comedy series about a robot detective that bombed. We combine humor and drama. As far as I’m concerned it’s the most different cop show on the air."

However Ernest recognized, "We’re having difficulty getting scripts because the writers are unfamiliar with the concept of an android. Most script writers are locked into comedy or drama. They get confused when we ask them to combine both elements in their stories. They have to see a couple of our shows before they understand what we’re trying to do. The writers also are asked to cut down violence. It’s much better to solve plot problems with other factors than violence. That’s another difficult thing for them to understand. But it’s possible to go too far in the other direction too. It’s gotten so if we draw a gun it’s considered an act of violence. But isn’t that what a cop’s supposed to do?"

On 'Future Cop', John Amos played Officer Bundy. In January 1977, John Amos could be seen playing Kunta Kinte in the record-setting mini-series 'Roots'. Some 130 million viewers, representing 85% of all TV homes were counted watching. The 8-part mini-series averaged a 44.9% rating. Based on Alex Haley's blockbusting novel, the first 3 parts of 'Roots' attracted three-fifths of the national audience.

On the first night, 'Roots' attracted a 40.5% rating, about 28.8 million TV homes; roughly 77 million viewers, or 61% share of the audience. On the second night, 'Roots' attracted a 44% rating, about 31.3 million TV homes. On the third night , 'Roots' attracted a 44.8% rating, about 31.9 million TV homes. On the last night of 'Roots', 51.1% of all the TV sets in 36 million households across the U.S. were counted watching. About 80 million viewers. At the time, the landmark mini-series 'Roots' made headlines for attracting the biggest audience ever for a TV show in the history of American television.

After 'Roots', then 34-year-old John Amos recalled, "Nothing happened, really. More recognition, maybe, but that doesn’t put money in the bank. Everyone tells me it's going to happen (his big break) so I'm just waiting." John also told Paul Henniger of 'The Los Angeles Times', "Let me put it this way: There's not a great pile of scripts in front of my door that I have to trip over every night. Other actors have waited a long time before anybody delivered anything in concrete form to them as a result of what they did. In this business, it could happen tomorrow; it may never happen. The only thing I’ve received is public acknowledgement."

Of 'Roots', John believed, "I think the best thing it did was to raise everybody's level of awareness as to what the institution of slavery was about, what slavery did to cause such tremendous schisms in the country for so many years … It was like lancing a boil … It made the younger generation, particularly the kids, aware of what had happened. It explained, to some degree, why there was such animosity between blacks and whites."

John said "as a kid growing up in New Jersey (John was born in Newark and raised in East Orange), I had occasion to integrate 2 schools, myself and another black student … Needless to say, all the textbooks were screwed up, the slaves tapping their feet, big smiles, a lot that. And it was very painful and embarrassing for me as a kid going to the school. But what could you do? There was nothing I could point to in the textbooks with any amount of pride. If I mentioned Africa, all I knew about it was that it was shaped like a porkchop. And that everybody wore britches and Tarzan was king.

"Well, 'Roots' changed all that. They can never go back to those old stereotypes. I’m not being idealistic but I’m telling you, there’s nothing about that that makes me grit my teeth, makes me wish they'd done this or done that … There's no part of it I found offensive or that ribbed me the wrong way. I saw every episode, beginning to end. And I’m proud as hell of it."

John Amos agreed to appear in the 6 episodes of 'Future Cop' because "the money was good, and you know this business is feast and famine. I knew I wasn’t going to get another 'Roots' right away, so I said, 'Damn right. I felt the need to do something light after 'Roots'. We might not be drawing any professors from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) as viewers of our new show, but then again, who knows? Maybe they're in the market for light entertainment, too. If the show runs 2, 3, 4 years – that's cool. If it doesn't, that's cool, too. No sense in worrying."

The network initially wanted another 3 episodes of 'Future Cop' made but only 2 were filmed as a TV movie renamed 'The Cops And Robin'. Before filming begun, John told 'The Los Angeles Times', "I don't know how much they are going to stress my character in the next 2 – if they even do them. They're having script problems." However "anything is possible in TV. I believe that firmly. In the last couple of seasons (1975-77) I've seen things come on that tube that defy description."

To keep his "tools" sharp, John Amos reportedly decided to perform before college audiences. "They’re tremendous. These young men and women are very receptive and perceptive," John observed. "If I don’t work I get rusty. And I don’t want people coming up to me to say, ‘Gee are you still alive?' So I’ve got to keep my face out there. I've found that all my material has been well received. I don’t do any preaching; no racial flag carrying. Just entertainment."

Dr James Turner was the director of the Africana Center at Cornell University. He told 'News-Journal Wire Services' in 1977, "Since the program ('Roots') started, we have been getting calls from teachers’ groups, businessmen and housewives to sit in on our class on 'Afro American Life and Culture in America.' More than 200 students, mostly white, showed up for a hastily called seminar on 'Roots' Monday (February 1977). The notice went out late Friday. The impact here (at Cleveland State University) has been phenomenal."

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