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Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Gary OS, Jan 12, 2012.
Flipper's first season was in color.
Although it was filmed in England, Danger Man, the Patrick McGoohan spy series, experienced a similar evolution, although for a different reason. After filming the first two seasons in black and white, two color episodes were filmed or what was supposed to be the third season -I think also in 1965-66- before McGoohan aborted the whole thing. Eventually, the two color episodes were released as a feature film- Koroshi- and McGoohan was given the go ahed to film his epochal The Prisoner... in color.
Craig Stevens' British series "Man of the World" was different. The pilot was shot in color but the series was shot in black and white.
I remember reading an interview in TV Guide with either Elizabeth Montgomery or Barbara Eden about their shows being in B&W and one of them (I think it was Elizabeth) said that doing the special effects in color added greatly to the cost of the series, but that the show would be going to color the following season.
Also in 1966, ABC was willing to renew "The Patty Duke Show" for a fourth season, but (according to Duke) United Artists wasn't willing to spend the money to film the show in color.
The combination of Pop Art and BATMAN killed all hope of any series staying in black and white or, for some, like the Irwin Allen shows mentioned, maintaining their once serious overtones. As disappointing as it is for the Allens, I was personally devastated most by the third season of THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. When I watch the series again it is absolutely painful to compare any episode of the first season with any from the third. You wonder why at some point someone involved with the production didn't say, "What are we doing?"
It's even more curious for The Munsters as the pilot for that show was filmed in color while it was produced entirely in B/W. But neither program ended the '65-'66 season in the top 30 which was another contributing factor to their demise.
I think we are coming close to 50 years when color tv shows started to replaced black and white tv series. I had thought it was 1965 when color tv shows were produced! I am looking to pick of the remaining seasons of the untouchables as i love Robert Stack as Elliot Ness. I have never seen anyone play the role as Elliot Ness like Robert Stack!!
That Batman aired in color on 3rd place ABC spoke volumes about the need for color in that series. It didn't work as well in B/W (but I *still* liked it!). Considering the impact Batman had on the industry I'm sure many programs were emulating that camp factor in order to pull in more viewers, especially the younger demographic. I'm a bit surprised there were no other series that chose to air a hour program in split half-hours as did Batman. I've not seen S3 of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. since it originally aired even though I own the entire series on DVD. While I remember liking that season during its original airing all the negative comments/reviews I've read about that season coupled with the decline I observed recently in S4 of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (one I was unable to watch during its original run) has kept me from watching that last season of TMFU. As far as the "What are we doing?" syndrome I tend to think it frequently boils down to somewhat a "Kobayashi Maru" scenario (in spite of me asking that same question about those same series). What I've read about the Allen and TMFU series (as well as many others which degenerated during their runs) tends to point the finger solidly at the "suits" doing not much more than chasing ratings at the expense of quality programming (reality programs anyone?). If the production company didn't do what the suits wanted the production company/producer would be labeled "uncooperative" and the show would be cancelled. If the production company *did* do what the suits wanted the viewers would start to abandon the program as it became less and less like the program they'd liked initially and it would be cancelled. You would like to believe the production companies involved truly wanted to deliver quality programs but were simply following instructions from the networks and all but had their hands tied so they delivered what they were told in order to keep a paycheck coming in. In the end, it's a sorry state of affairs that there were quality B/W programs whose quality apparently ended by something as simple as a switch to color. It's even worse when you take into consideration that the majority of the viewing audience for many of those programs didn't own a color set and only saw the camp factor ramp up. It also makes me sad for those people who refuse to watch a B/W TV program or film as they truly don't know what they are missing.
I think it's all in how you look at it. In 1954 Ford Theatre was the first network sponsored TV color film series to be presented on a regular basis (on NBC). There were several instances of special event broadcasts in the 50s and several syndicated programs were filmed in color in anticipation of the format taking over. But I think you can target 1959 as the true beginning of color replacing B/W programs with NBC broadcasting Bonanza in color. Of course NBC had a vested interest in color since their parent company RCA was the leading manufacturer of color sets and a driving force of the adoption of the NTSC color system. CBS and ABC dragged their feet into color. ABC delayed its first color series until 1962 with The Flintstones and The Jetsons. CBS had pioneered many color broadcasts in the 50s but actually stopped all regular color programming between 1960 and 1965 (The Lucy Show was filmed in color beginning in '63 but was telecast by CBS in B/W through the end of the '64–'65 season). That is somewhat surprising considering GE, CBS' parent company, manufactured color sets. (removed due to bad intel) It was Spring 1966 when GE introduced the "Porta-Color" set helping cement the color transition.
Trying to get a handle on the scope of color programming before 1965...how many regularly scheduled, scripted, non-animated network series were in color as of, say, 1962? I know Bonanza and The Virginian were. How many others?
The Joey Bishop Show during its two years on NBC from 1962-1964. Then when it went to CBS for a final season it was in B/W!
Didn't Wagon Train go from b/w to color and then back to b/w for one last year also?
Wagon Train did 5 episodes in color in the 5th season, while still on NBC. It went all color and expanded to 90 minutes for the 7th season (by then on ABC) but went back to B&W and 60 minutes for the 8th and last season. The color episodes of the 5th season were mastered in B&W for syndication, and are in B&W on the DVD release.
GE was never the parent company of CBS.
I think though, there is a tendency to oversimplify such scenarios by saying it was always the fault of the "suits" for the decline in these shows. Yes, there was certainly interference from executives as is to be expected, but to be honest, Irwin Allen himself has to take just as much of his share of the blame for rejecting better quality scripts on both Voyage and TT because *he* was more into going with the monster format, or the large gimmick format. Irwin was certainly the reason why for instance, we never saw decent female guest stars on Voyage after S1 because he had a general prejudice against using them on Voyave. We have also seen Gene Roddenberry for years say the "suits" were responsible for nixing the idea of the Enterprise not having a female first officer, but in fact NBC didn't want to see Roddenberry use the casting couch to give a choice role to his mistress. The bottom line is that the production companies and the producers themselves share just as much as the blame for why the quality declined in these shows.
So funny yet so absolutely true. What's even funnier is that the majority of the public actually thinks that 50 years later things are any different. There are thousands upon thousands of beautiful actresses in Hollywood and just as many who have talent. Anyone who thinks the road to stardom still doesn't go through producer's couches is very naive.
I know that NBC was even experimenting with color on some other series as well. Sam Benedict did a color episode for one. If I'm not mistaken, so did It's A Man's World as well. More well known is the one color Perry Mason episode.
Yep... so just *where* did I get that little bit of misinformation?!? Probably jumped to a conclusion based on those GE sets being a factor in the adoption of color by CBS after roughly 5 years of none (other than a few specials). Thanks! - I fixed it...
CBS did buy a TV set manufacture in hopes of being able to market CBS color TVs in 1951. IIRC it was the company that made Air-Kings (Hytron Electronics). There was a line of CBS-Columbia B&W TVs for a while in the 50s, but from what I heard they were somewhat inferior sets (feel free to correct me if I am wrong).