Friday, 11 August 2017

TV in 1970 - Part 2: The Mary Tyler Moore Show, UFO & more

Following on from a look at what was on TV on a particular day - 6th August 1970 - in this post I'm looking at some popular television shows that first aired in 1970. For this year, there doesn't appear to be many major shows that started up, though do tell me if I'm missing any of your favourites.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show

Available on Amazon
This is a US comedy, and one of the most popular TV shows of the 1970s in America. It ran for seven seasons from 1970 to 1977, picking up a staggering 29 Emmy awards, a record at the time that was not broken until Frasier received its 30th award in 2002.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show was unusually named for its leading actress, with her character on screen being called Mary Richards. At thirty years old, she leaves her fiance of two years and moves to Minneapolis, getting a job as an associate producer at a television station. It was apparently the first never married, independent career woman as its main character.

I've just watched the first episode (you can buy individual episodes on Amazon video)and I've got to say, it grabbed me right from the off! Considering it is nearly 50 years old it has aged really well. It is a smart, savvy and very funny show with a very likeable and yet quirky main character. Only the first couple of seasons made it to the UK in the 1970s before the BBC stopped showing it, which seems a shame. I really want to watch more episodes and think I will - even at £1.89 an episode! You can definitely see the influence it has had on many newer American comedy series.

The Goodies

The Goodies was a comedy TV show produced by the BBC from 1970 to 1982. It was a cross between comedy sketches and a sitcom, and featured three British comedians - Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie. The premise of the show is that three friends are always short of money, so offer themselves up for hire, willing to do anything. Their tagline is "We can do anything, anytime, anywhere". It's not difficult to imagine the myriad opportunities for comedy in such a concept. In different episodes, the Goodies do anything from babysitting to starting a pirate radio station, trying their hand at lighthouse keeping to going prospecting.

The Partridge Family

The Partridge Family is an American sitcom featuring a widowed mother and her five kids who form a band, get a hit record and the tour the country in a funky bus. It captured the hearts and minds of Americans, the show went to the top of the TV charts, and their hit songs to the top of the music charts. It lasted for four years, and is noted particularly for launching the career of 1970s teen heartthrob, singer and actor David Cassidy.

UFO

UFO Boxset - Available on Amazon
Gerry Anderson had made his name as the creator of hit children's sci-fi shows such as Thunderbirds, Stingray and Captain Scarlet. UFO was his first live action science fiction show. American actor Ed Bishop plays Commander Straker who leads the secret organisation SHADO in its mission to counter an alien invasion. Apart from its American born lead actor, this show is British to the core, from the locations to the posh British accents.

I watched the first episode of this one (it's available on You Tube though I wouldn't try and watch it on a big screen). This show has clearly aged rather a lot and it's portrayal of the 'future' 1980 a tad off(!) but actually it is actually rather endearing and I really feel like I am watching a slice of TV history. A highlight for me is the female officers on the Moonbase - they have really posh upper class British accents, are wearing silver jumpsuits with super shiny mirror skirts, and have bright purple hair -they're a hoot!

So my first foray into retro TV was rather enjoyable. I don't have time to watch everything, so picked The Mary Tyler Moore Show and UFO, both good choices for different reasons. Will I watch any more episodes? Possibly, yes. I might choose to carry on watching UFO because I do like my sci-fi, but if I could only pick one of the series to watch more of it would be The Mary Tyler Moore Show.