20160910

TELEVISION

In a world of television, fantasy had proven to be the tried-and-true format. 'Dallas' or 'Dynasty' was ranked No. 1 four of the 5 seasons between 1980 and 1985. In the television trade, professional lives lived or died by "the numbers" (also known as the A.C. Nielsen ratings) as $8.5 billion of advertising dollars lost or won over the course of a season (comprised 2 half years) as well as shares in the $45-million-a-year audience-research business. 

In the 1984-85 season finale episode, the "death" of Bobby Ewing attracted 46 share (46% of TV sets turned on were watching 'Dallas') and a 27.5 rating (27.5% of all households with television sets were watching 'Dallas'). At the same time, the 'Dynasty' royal wedding cliffhanger attracted a 25.9% rating and a 39% share. In 1975, Joan Collins guest starred on 'Switch'. In 1977, Linda Gray guest starred on 'Switch'. Pamela Bellwood and Patrick Duffy also appeared on 'Switch'. 

'Switch' ran between 1975 and 1978. Robert Wagner and Eddie Albert played private investigators operating from opposite ends of the law to solve their cases. In the days of the 3 networks, to stay on air a program must attract at least a 30 share of the estimated national audience. Robert Wagner told the press in December 1978, "They (the network programmers) were killing us with the time changes. The show was up near the top, then they would change the time – something like 7 times in 3 years. They wanted me to do another year of it, and I told them I would if they would guarantee us a definite time. They wouldn’t, so that was the end of it." 

In the 1979-1980 season, the network moved 'Fantasy Island' from 10:00pm on Saturdays to 8:00pm Fridays. Ricardo Montalb├ín told the Associated Press, "It's hard to take (the low ratings). Maybe ABC didn't inform the public well enough about the move. We never lost our time period on Saturday night, never, and we have had 38, 45, as much as 50 share. Of course the actors are never consulted. Everything is a roll of the dice – first to get a pilot done, then sell the series. The biggest roll of the dice is to get a successful series. It's another roll of the dice when they change your time period. 

"I enjoy acting. I look forward to going to work every day. I realize what a lucky man I am. After all, 99.9% of actors face diminishing returns as they grow older. Certain things about it (acting) I don't enjoy. Putting on make-up bores me. Taking off make-up bores me. The PR (public relations) aspect can be bothersome. I've given so many interviews and appeared on so many talk shows that I feel I talked out. My life, you know, is not very newsworthy." 

By the end of the second season of 'Switch', Robert Wagner recounted, "We've reached the point where we're racing to complete a segment that will end up on the air 2 weeks later. Last week (back in February 1977), for instance, we had an editor working 84 hours – in order to put an episode together in time for air date. There’s no time to take a second look at scripts, to rehearse properly. It's just become a matter of getting it shot and getting it on the air – and creativity has suffered because of it." Robert remarked in 1975, "You know we live in a vacuum here. We can’t tell about the shows. But our studio people feel good about 'Switch.'" 

Ratings-wise, the 1987-88 TV season marked the first time the human-free, high-tech push-button people meters were used to measure the crucial television ratings replacing the paper-and-pencil handwritten diary system which had been in operation since the 1950s. The ratings of each programs determined the type of entertainment the viewers would get to see in the future. 

Edwin Diamond of 'New York' magazine informed readers in August 1987, "The (ratings) information is important to companies that advertise on TV, to the advertising agencies that tell them (companies) which programs to buy, to broadcasters dependent on these sales for survival, and to the creators of programs, whose power and prestige may rise or fall with the audience numbers."

Douglas S Cramer told 'TV Guide' in 1983, "I think probably my favourite ('Dynasty') show was the last show that we did last year (the 1981-82 season finale episode) where we had 3 major cliffhangers and they were all brought into - or rather specifically in one story they were all brought to a climax. That was an amazing show. And I think it's a perfect example in how to do 3 wonderful second act curtains all in the course of one show.

"'Dynasty' is the caviar television serial. We think we're a little better produced, a little better acted, certainly a bit better written. We're a little more stylish in terms of what we tried to do. We go faster. We go quicker. We give our audience greater sense of intelligence." George Hamilton added, "I think the formula of always given them something that is different, in short attention span, is as almost a hormonal injection." John Forsythe believed, "I think that this ('Dynasty') represents to a television audience an escape. They're (the viewers) very deeply involved with the Carringtons and all the peripheral people. They're interested. That's what makes it a successful show. Involvement with people."

In the 1986-87 season, Patrick Duffy shocked viewers when his character Bobby Ewing was resurrected. Producer Leonard Katzman told 'People' magazine, "On a soap opera, anyone who dies off-camera has a 50-50 chance of coming back alive." To bring Bobby back, Leonard devised a "brilliant solution" taping 3 solutions at a cost of $25,000. Larry Hagman maintained, "What people want from 'Dallas' is a focus on the family." And with the resurrection of Bobby Ewing, "The spirit is back at 'Dallas.'" Steve Kanaly confessed at the time, "I can't wait for this thing to air so people can stop talking about it."

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