tv The Seventies CNN November 28, 2015 6:00pm-7:01pm PST
tonight, television takes a look at itself. >> what's on the idiot box? it's only an idiot box if someone is looking at it. >> our obligation is to entertainment. if we've left something to think about, so much the better. >> television should not be just entertainment. >> charges were leveled at the commercial television networks. >> congress has no right to interfere in the media. >> excuse me! >> we have the responsibility to give the audience what it tuned in to see. ♪ ♪
obviously. but tv and other news coverage is better, not worse. we simply developed more demanding standards. >> when i think of tv, i think of the '70s. >> what is this world coming to? >> the american public was hungry for more. >> more was allowed that hadn't been before. >> it was the last decade where it was a campfire television, where there was one in the living room. >> i want to watch an all-black show for a change. >> oh, where are you going to find one? >> here's one -- the los angeles lakers against the milwaukee bucks. >> young people were interested in relevant things. and so television began to reflect that. >> this is cbs. >> really it was very simple. you had three channels plus pbs. >> when the decade turned over into the '70s, television was very rural. ♪ >> "hee haw!" >> "the beverly hillbillies." >> cbs had "the beverly hillbillies."
"green acres." >> "petticoat junction." and these rural fantasies of mayberryism. >> the hillbilly shows were everywhere and then they weren't. >> fred silverman who was running programming at cbs said, we're going to get rid of the shows that are most highly rated and replace them with shows that they thought would be more appealing to that younger audience. >> they change the face of television. >> my name is norman lear. >> until 1971 he was a very successful if largely unheralded producer/writer in hollywood. but then he burst upon the public consciousness when he took on bigotry with his "all in the family." >> norman lear, created iconic shows. >> they revolutionized not only cbs but all of american television. >> our world is coming crumbling down, the coons are coming. >> to use language like that on tv was just unheard of it. but it really captured a certain moment. >> archie, 12% of the population is black. there should be a lot of black families living out here. >> yeah, this is only a beginning but i think it's
wonderful. >> well, let's see how wonderful it is when the watermelon rinds come flying out the window. >> it scared me when i saw "all in the family," i thought they better be careful. >> there was no doubt in my mind the american people were going to accept it. >> do you have a quick answer for the people who say the show reinforces bigotry? and that charge started from the very beginning. >> yes. my quick answer is no. >> everybody is going to see something they knew damn well was going on and nothing that surprising. >> edith, we're out of toilet paper! >> no, we're not, i bought some yesterday, it's in the closet in the kitchen. >> i ain't in the kitchen! >> oh! >> hearing a toilet flush for the first time was a big deal and made headlines. [ toilet flushes ] >> what's this country coming to anyhow? >> what is it, archie? bad news? >> what else? >> did we get out of vietnam or something? >> don't be a wise guy, huh? >> i wasn't going to play around with "mom dented the car. how are we going keep dad from finding out about it?"
not when i see everything that's going around in our country. >> just because a guy is sensitive and he's an intellectual and he wears glasses, you make him out a queer. >> i never said a guy who wears glasses is a queer. a guy who wears glasses is a four-eyes, a guy who's a fag is a queer. >> "all in the family" did something really new for television. it put before the american public archie's friend, who was very masculine and who happened to be gay. >> how long you known me? 10, 12 years? >> yeah. >> in all that time did i ever mention a woman? >> oh, come on, steve. >> nixon objecting to the show, that was a badge of honor. >> it was really culturally on point. every time. for a sitcom that was unheard of.
>> one, two, three. >> i wanted to do an episode where somebody could give archie what he earned. >> shut up all of you! >> we created a character that could really let him have it. >> maude. >> i'm only here because of edith. the fact that you happen to be here with her is beyond my control. like any other freak of nature. >> before that show was off the air, fred silverman was on the telephone with me saying, "there's a show in that woman." >> hello? no, this is not mr. findley, it's mrs. findley. yes, mr. findley has a much higher voice. >> now get your coat and come on! >> what makes you think you can order me around like that, henry? >> you're my wife, that gives me the right. >> when he says wife he means possession. >> so what, maude, you told me a hundred times you want to feel possessed. >> walter, i never said that standing up and you know it.
>> norman lear and bud yorkin really turned the spinoff series into an art form. >> norman lear hates to call it the lear factory. all his series come out of this building, allowing lear to move from show to show like a dervish. >> "good times" was like holy smokes. there's black people on tv! >> there had never been a complete black family on tv with the father. >> what made it so unique and universal was that we had the same problems in our household, and we do not live in the projects in chicago. >> dynomite! >> you want to worry your head about nothing, go on and do it. i have $32 in the shoe box. and i got another $6 in my pocket. >> you worked all night all they paid you was $6? >> there were a lot of folks who were not happy with the show. the black panthers were very upset. when huey newton came to see me, the big complaint was why can't we see a black man that's doing better than that? >> "the jeffersons" started as neighbors of archie bunker.
>> don't call me honky. >> why are you so sensitive all of a sudden? >> how would you like it if i called you nigger? >> he called me nigger! >> that's no worse than honky. >> you're right. nothing is worse than being called a honky except being married to one. >> norman lear set the stage for other shows in the '70s that just brought gravitas to television. >> what are you staring at? >> i was just thinking, i ought to bring my neighbor's kids over here. this place is better than the zoo.
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on saturday nights, the cbs lineup in the early '70s was amazing. 8:00, "all in the family." 8:30, "m.a.s.h." 9:00, "the mary tyler moore show," and you have "the bob newhart show." >> and it ended with the "carol burnett variety show" at 10:00. >> they used to call it murderers row. >> people had no dvrs, no vhs, nothing with initials. so people would stay home on saturday nights. they wouldn't go to the movies. they wouldn't go to restaurants. that may be the best night of television in all of television history. >> mary tyler moore was a single woman working as an associate
producer on a nightly tv show. >> you know what? you've got spunk. >> yeah. >> i hate spunk! >> there were a lot of young women entering the workplace then. and for some of them, mary tyler moore was like a port of entry. >> i'm doing as good a job as he did. >> better. >> better! and i'm being paid less than he was because -- >> you're a woman. >> the television female could be a hero. she could be the main event. >> rita. all right. >> out loud! >> the first script written by allen burns and jim gricks had mary coming to minneapolis divorced. and very quickly cbs says, no, no, no, no, no. >> at the beginning of the decade, divorce was considered somewhat scandalous. >> she went on dates with a lot of guys. >> but the guys were really important. >> we seem to be hitting it off. and i just thought --
>> you just thought? >> she's not obsessed with finding a husband. >> don't forget to take your pill. >> i won't. >> i won't. >> this was about people coping with one another. and the workplace was like a family. >> i told ted to close with the copy for sue ann. >> oh, my god. >> what's wrong? >> i told the projectionist it was the other way around. >> oh, my god. >> local pig farmers served notice today that rising corn prices are forcing them to find other means to feed their stock. here's one pig. just look at her gobble up that slop. starting tomorrow we'll be presenting a new feature on wjm, "dining out with sueann nivens." >> once jim brooks said to me, i know there's a world of comedy in my wife's purse, i just can't access it, we've got to find some female writers for this show. >> did you crash the men's room? >> of course not. i went as somebody's guest.
>> why do you think it's such a winner? >> i think because of the casting. and i think because of the writing. they don't sacrifice the character for the sake of a good joke. >> that effort to keep the female sensibility is what made it authentic and good. people would say "you're just like me and my girlfriends." >> how can you gorge yourself like that and stay so skinny? i'm going crazy with hunger. >> well, eat something. >> i can't. i have to lose 10 pound by 8:30. >> the head of network at the time said, valerie, listen, i'm going to spin you off. and i thought, oh my god, i'm fired. because spin-off is a term that was originated in the '70s." >> if we're going to start living together we've got to tell each other everything. >> okay, joe. i want to be married. >> rhoda and joe's wedding became a huge national event. 52 million people tuned in to see that. >> suddenly rhoda is in a happy
relationship. they didn't know what to do with that. then they had to have her get divorced to try to reboot the show. >> why did you marry me? just answer me that. why did you marry me? >> you made me marry you. >> i feel so funny. >> it's a matter of trust. >> oh, she's not going to do it. >> where does that leave us, where do we go from here? >> that we'll have to discuss at future sessions. >> the '70s also had this therapeutic overlay. >> hi, bob. >> hi, bob. >> hello? >> we decided to make him a psychologist. >> we seem to have run out of things to say. >> why don't we pray? >> let's pray for the end of this session. >> i didn't know anything about therapy prior to that. >> i'm from the planet bluthar. it's in the galoo galaxy. >> how -- how long you going to be in town? >> i didn't want to do a show, "where are your children?"
i didn't want to be the dumb dad. >> sit, boy. >> howard, i don't care, i just don't want to make any more decisions. >> people will say, "gee, my dad and i used to watch the show. and it was great." and then you realize you're part of people's lives. ♪ >> the '70s was the era where a certain artistry developed. "m.a.s.h." really changed people's perception of what the sitcom can be. the sitcom could be cinematic. >> "m.a.s.h." was shot like a movie. and "m.a.s.h." was maybe the single most unique situation comedy ever. >> i have a headache. a tremendous headache. it goes all the way down to my waist. >> the television series "m.a.s.h." had one thing the movie in my estimation did not, which was heart. >> there are certain rules about a war. rule number one is young men die. rule number two is doctors can't
change rule number one. >> it was about korea but we were talking about and doing things that had to do with vietnam and everybody knew it. >> rolling. action. >> war isn't hell. war is war and hell is hell and of the two war is a lot worse. >> we had 30 million people a week watching "m.a.s.h." >> have you ever really considered the foot? >> yeah, but i prefer girls. >> better not bump into henry in that jungle. >> i intend only to bump into nurse baker. repeatedly if possible. >> these were people who would go through the scripts and say "you can't use this word." we felt like we were in the midst of a battle. this is freedom of speech. >> at the senate hearings on television violence today, strong charges were leveled at the commercial television networks. >> the broadcasting industry now stands charged with having molested the minds of our nation's children to serve the cause of corporate profit. >> the family hour was established by the three networks and the federal communications commission in response to complaints of too
much sex and violence on early evening television. >> the family hour, the two hours from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. during which parents and children are supposed to be able to watch television without being made to feel uncomfortable. >> it's topless, edith! >> and so it seemed altogether unfair, and we sued. >> family hour is under attack from some producers, unions and others in the television industry. they have filed a lawsuit to have it abolished. >> as those scheduled to testify arrive, mary tyler moore enterprises. they passed through a picket line protesting the hearing. >> congress has no right whatsoever to interfere in the content of the media. >> if you can censor a joke today, and tomorrow you can censor expression of any thought if you can censor a joke. it just becomes easier the next day. >> a federal judge in los angeles ruled the so-called family hour on television from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. was unconstitutional, a violation of the first amendment guarantee of free speech. >> the first amendment was
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>> tonight television takes a look at itself. we are looking at what you watch most of the time. entertainment programming on the three commercial networks. what are you looking at? is it good for you? >> somewhere around the middle or late '70s it's like people got tired of talking about real stuff. >> if the good lord provided us with berries, i think we ought to eat them. >> there was a longing for simpler time when it didn't seem like there was so much anger and contentiousness, when people weren't so mad at each other. >> during last season "the waltons" caught on. >> good night, john boy. >> good night. >> this year there will be more nostalgia and wholesome family drama. >> now that dinner is over let's try out the piano. >> oh, good. >> i am taking requests. ♪ sunday monday happy days >> i created "happy days" not what a family really was. i thought it would be good if there were some families that didn't get divorced. >> you guys are really -- >> it wasn't by accident everybody on "happy days" hugged each other. it wasn't by accident that everybody in the family ate at the same time at the same table.
it was a sweet, tender show. in the vein of "american graffiti." looking back on the era of the '50s with a certain affection. >> haaay! >> abc wanted fonzi's "haaay" to compete directly with jimmy "j.j." walker's "dynomite." >> cause i'm the fonz! haaay! >> catch phrases were big. >> sit on it! >> sit on out howard. >> does any one say, thank you, arnold? you know what they say? >> sit on it, arnold. >> that's what they say. >> you watch fonzi and you just want to be fonzi. >> oh. >> hey, girls. knock yourselves out. i'm really sorry it was a slip of the fingers, slip of the fingers. >> it's a fantasy of what teen life could be. >> hey, dafazio. they're here. all right. laverne. this is laverne dafazio. she's mine. this is shirley feeney. she's yours. as you can see.
>> nice to meet you, ritchie. >> my pleasure. >> when "laverne & shirley" made a guest appearance, one of the cameramen said, look at this two shot that's a series. >> shamele, shamozle -- hossenfere incorporated. >> tuesday night between 8:00 and 9:00 is called the death spot, death to any program that dares to go head-on between abc's "happy days" and "laverne & shirley." >> "laverne & shirley" was one of the few sitcoms that debuted as number one. >> the absolute top number one show this season is "laverne & shirley." a seemingly harmless but essentially brainless exercise in adolescent silliness. >> you have to go all the way back to "i love lucy" to get the same sort of slapstick and physical comedy. >> we never thought about its importance, except that, you know, it was two girls trying and the value of friendship. it must have something going for it. >> i don't rodeo-do-do. >> you rodeo-do-do. >> i don't rodeo-do-do.
>> they couldn't say sex. but they said rodeo-do. >> you rodeo-do. >> everybody knew what they were talking the about. >> once. >> my son didn't want to watch "laverne and shirley" or "happy days." i said, you don't like it? he said, i like it. but what's missing? spacemen. because we were getting into space. so that's when i created -- a space man. >> wait a minute, who are you? >> i am mork from ork. >> the writers all rolled their eyes, an alien. he wants an alien. i had to make up a story. fonzi is running out of adversaries. >> that's right, fonzi never lost a hall attacker yet. we got the home planet advantage. >> then we've got him on his own show. and "mork & mindy" was the hip show of the '70s. >> the audience, talk about a willing suspension of disbelief, is willing to buy the premise. >> mind if i do? >> just so they can watch robin williams. >> nanu-nanu.
>> well, excuse me! >> that was an interesting part of the balance i think of the television diet. that there was an attempt to explore deeper into the psyche of what makes us tick. but there was also, you know, a need to escape. >> i'm going to a beach barbecue. >> uh-huh. i can see what's going to heat up the coals. >> if there's any single phenomenon that's tilted the ratings books in abc's direction, it's t & a. at the cbs affiliates meeting he explained how these t & a shows are concocted. >> they take the clothes off three times. they get idea. and then they have to run three times. so they jiggle. they're all well-endowed. of course. and then they say, now, let's get three undressed scenes. and three jiggles. and write a script around it. >> there are some who will tell you t & a has peaked and is on its way out. abc has shows like "the love boat" and "three's company." >> jiggle tv referred to the fact that these were women who were, you know, who were, you know -- >> good morning, angels.
>> good morning, charlie. >> "charlie's angels" became a very enduring trademark out of the '70s. >> i've already made arrangements for you three to go to prison. >> open your towel. >> i'll be standing as erect as ever. good luck, angels. >> oh god, i did "battle of the network stars" a couple of times. and i hated it. >> i think i made up some pretty good time on billy crystal. >> networks would loan out their tv stars to compete in a series of quasi olympic-type events. >> she is leaning so far over she seems to be wobbling a little bit. >> erin gray. with that spry, supple body. >> she's got a great set of legs, what the heck? >> i think we have a lot to apologize for for the worst of television. >> my only defense, it was the '70s. >> did i jiggle much? live and learn.
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the platinum standard on the planet for how you use this medium to educate kids. ♪ would you be mine could you be mine won't you be my neighbor ♪ >> it was fred rogers who made it okay to speak to an audience of kids like they were human beings. >> there are some new things that are very difficult to understand in a newspaper. >> every now and then i think back to mr. rogers and i think, he would say don't be scared, life is good, life is special. >> everybody is so special because everybody is different. >> just go and do the thing you love. that always stuck with me. >> see you tomorrow. ♪ can you tell me how to get how to get to sesame street ♪ >> "sesame street" introduced my children to the interaction of people with different backgrounds. ♪ it's not that easy being green ♪ >> count it. >> count that penny? >> yeah, count it. >> okay. >> count. >> one.
>> "sesame street" was aggressive in terms of learning not only concepts of reading, but concepts of interacting. >> i may be small. >> i may be small. >> but i am. >> but i am. >> somebody. >> somebody. >> "sesame street" was as big as it got in terms of celebrity. everybody wanted to hang with the muppets. >> aren't you johnny trash? >> cash. >> cash, cash. >> educational children's television really matured in the '70s. >> i'm leaving. >> i love you. >> i love you, too. >> oh, thanks. >> now for something completely different. >> when i was 13 the show from england came on pbs, which before that was only the realm of my parents. >> eww! >> what do you mean, ew? >> i don't like spam. >> suddenly they're doing the most outlandish, racy, non sequitur type of humor. and killing me, the 13-year-old.
>> it's extraordinary what you can't do on american television. i think you can do it on pbs. that's why -- i hope you all watch it. >> don't attack me with it! come on! >> oh! >> you get the generation of comedy nerds who don't even know that they're comedy nerds. >> this is no more. it has ceased to be. >> "monty python" turned out to break so many rules. i mean, it changes everything. just like with the beatles, you can say, "oh, they came after the beatles." look at "saturday night live," you look at sctv. oh, after. after "monty python." >> beginning october 11th, saturday night will open up a whole new live venture from new york city. we just happen to have the producer of the program and members of his company. what should we look for on the program? >> anxiety. >> loren michaels, this canadian comedy producer, was given free rein. >> hi. i'm loren michaels. the producer of saturday night. >> he hires improv comics. >> rehearsal and warmup, let's
do 28 face slaps. come on. slap. come on. make it hurt. >> george carlin was the first host. wanted to be permanent host. >> nice to see you. welcome and thanks for joining us live. >> there were a lot of names bandied about in terms of permanent hosts. >> that's one of those tv rules you mustn't break, until you do. then you realize, why don't you have a different host every week? but it was the cast that finally won people's hearts. >> come on, who is this? >> andy-gram. >> you cut your own steaks. we give you the sauce. >> i'm barbara wawa. >> thank you, thank you very much. you're beautiful. you're beautiful. thank you. >> you were drawn to the tv set, because you knew something insane might happen. >> live, live. >> live from new york! >> partly because it was live. partly because you knew television was now in the hands of the television generation. ♪ >> and these were kids in quotes who just might do anything. >> yes, having sex with women,
the president within these very walls. that never happened when dick nixon was in the white house. >> it was counter television. that's partly what made it attractive. >> no problem. >> every one of their episodes became worthy of talmudic study, if that's the word. >> when i hosted, loren called me into his office and said, "you realize the kids are the stars." the host wasn't nearly as impactful. >> that's not quite it. uh -- >> because the thing was all the rage. >> they called themselves the not ready for primetime players. not because they felt they weren't good enough, but because they felt they were too good. >> good evening, i'm chevy chase. and you're not. >> chevy chase became an instant star. >> our top story tonight. >> our top story tonight -- [ indiscernible ] >> chevy chase was on the show for one year. >> are you sorry you left "saturday night live"? >> i'm deeply, deeply sorry.
>> chevy decided he was too big for the show. so he left. in some ways, chevy leaving after the first year was a blessing. because it showed that "saturday night live" was going to do much more than survive. ♪ there are some things that just aren't explainable ♪ >> hello, i'm bill murray. you can call me billy. but around here everybody calls me the new guy. >> when chevy chase leaves. bill murray comes in. >> come on, pop! >> cut, cut -- makeup, can we get in here, please. sorry, fellows. >> that just opened up other doors. and "saturday night live" was just kind of taking on. >> two wild and crazy guys! >> you will never have to cut again. >> roseann, roseanna-danna. >> cheeseburger, cheeseburger. >> where do we come from? >> france. >> it was the show for us. it was the show about us.
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>> throughout high school there was one show religious broadcasting that you had to watch. if you didn't see it you wouldn't have anything to talk about for all of tuesday and most of wednesday and a big part of thursday. >> why? because monday night is nfl football night. that's why. >> monday night football got its start on september 21st, 1970, with the cleveland browns hosting the new york jets. >> welcome to abc's monday night primetime national football league television series. >> and this game is under way on abc. >> frank was there to do play-by-play. don was there to do replays. and provide some humor to the telecast. and howard was there to be the straw that stirred the drink. >> come on! let's go! let's go! >> the pairing of howard cosell with don meredith is a classic sitcom odd couple kind of pairing. you couldn't help but be swept up by what those guys were
saying. the booth itself was almost like a variety show. >> we have our expert with us here this evening. >> i called it a traveling freak show and it really was a traveling freak -- and the head freak was howard no question about that. >> the tension between the two of them made for the kind of the thing that you wanted to see every week. >> professional football is rapidly growing into a very big business. >> you understand football. our football, not what they call football in europe. >> i like to watch it. i don't understand too much about it. >> would you look to learn more about it? >> we were on a mission that took us very close to saying, screw the football fan because he's going to come anyway. what we needed to do is appeal to women. we needed to appeal to the casual football fan. that's why we started telling stories that humanized the players. >> joe namath one of the greatest of all-time. unfortunately his legs do not go with that arm. >> the things that people associate with. >> recognize this fellow? >> what's been your view of this american professional football season? >> it is an amazing event, sight. it makes rock concerts look like tea parties. >> i'd like to have your job, be a sportscaster.
>> that show became week after week one of the most highly rated shows in america. ♪ turn out the lights ♪ the party's over >> it showed football was an entertainment experience on par with any primetime show you could imagine. >> maybe it was better because you didn't know how it was going to end. >> "60 minutes" decided to peer into the electronic future to take a look at what may be in store for television viewers in the decade of the '70s. it is television by cable, a communications revolution that could radically alter our way of life. >> cable for quarter of a century, there's nothing distinctive about it. just a way for you to get what everybody else can already get. and that's the way it is up until -- >> welcome to home box office subscription television. >> hbo debuts november 8, 1972, and it is not an overnight success. >> presenting the pennsylvania polka festival. >> the oft-repeated saying was "getting people to pay for tv will be like getting them to pay for air."
>> saturday mornings they would play band music and you'd see slides of nothing. >> nobody knew what you could do. nobody knew what you couldn't do. but you were desperately trying not to be commercial television. >> how much time we got? >> ladies and gentlemen, robert klein! >> the beauty of it was you didn't have to pack everything quickly. you could warm up and get to know and take the stage so to speak. >> the talk shows are okay. you know, i do "the tonight show." i come in, i have to be funny in a hurry. gets a little tiring. six minutes and boom, boom, boom, boom! >> it wasn't as contrived. it was a full-throated performance. >> this is not regular television. this is subscription. you can say anything. [ bleep ]. >> because you're not using public airwaves the fcc can't regulate your content. >> i understand you had two orgasms yesterday. can you tell us about them? >> hbo gave cable something to sell. you were getting movies uncut in your home. all the naughty bits intact.
and then september 1975. we debuted coast to coast with the thrilla in manila, one of the all-time classic heavyweight fights. frazier/ali. and that's when hbo explodes. >> it's all over and mohammad ali at the end of the 14th round, it's a tko -- >> before that, you're count ing growth in tens of thousand of subscribers. after that, you're counting in millions. that's really day one for both businesses. hbo and the cable industry. >> if you're a fan, what you'll see in the next minutes to follow may convince you you've gone to sports heaven. >> in the mid-'70s in the sports world, there were just these three giants. cbs, nbc, abc. and then in connecticut, somebody got ahold of a transponder. >> the picture you're watching right now has been taken by a camera sent through sophisticated equipment to this earth transmitting system -- >> this guy, bill rasmussen, who had been fired from his job
trying to figure out a way to deliver local cable sports. then when they found out about the satellite they said, so can we cover the whole state? and the guy looked and he said, no, you don't understand. >> for another 25 cents or whatever you can send this all over the country. they went, oh, gee. why would anyone want to do that? they didn't quite know what they had. >> and he wound up revolutionizing television sports. >> welcome everyone to espn "sportscenter." from this very desk in the coming weeks and months we'll be filling you in on the pulse of the sporting activity, around the country and around the world as well. >> they didn't have the money to go out and buy baseball games or nfl games. what they did do was take all the leftovers out there. >> i'm joe boyle and i'll be handling the play by play for tonight's game between the badgers and the blue demons. >> it gave birth to arguably the greatest media success story of all-time. >> at its best, cable television could provide a refreshing relief from the trend toward
bigness, toward centralization. at its worst cable tv could invade our privacy, tranquilize our children, remove us electronically from the flesh and blood world. and we'd have to pay for the privilege. the question is, indeed, will the miracle be managed? the best of everything is even better during red lobster's ultimate seafood celebration. with jazzed up new dishes like the decadent grand seafood feast and the ultimate wood-grilled feast why wait to celebrate? so hurry in, it ends soon. ♪ ♪
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♪ the best thing pbs did for adults in the '70s was the miniseries. the idea of novels for television. >> good evening. i'm alastair cook here with the ninth episode of "i, claudius." we ought to put up a sign, "discretion is advised." >> i was not allowed to watch it because it had nudity in it. i very much wanted to. >> rather than try to come up with a show that would run for years and years, it was this idea that, here is a limited story, we're going to tell it in x number of episodes, and let's just do this one self-contained thing. >> we all did things during the reign of my mad brother that we might not otherwise have done. >> it looks cheap. it was the script and the performances that mattered. in other words, it could be good for you, but it was fun at the same time. the miniseries was such a huge success for public television. abc was the network that hit gold with "rich man, poor man."
>> how do you even tell a story that isn't controlled by the clock? characters that can grow and change and differ. >> i want to talk to you. >> about what? >> about making an honest man out of me. >> it's a subject i rarely discuss in the nude. >> what we saw in the '70s was big-event television, if it was done right and if it was compelling, the audience kept coming back and back. >> here you have topics that start to get serious and important and groundbreaking for television. >> there's no life left here. and i don't want harm to come to you because of me. >> i won't -- i won't listen to this. >> the majority reaction to the holocaust program has been positive, it has not been without debate. >> with "holocaust" the heat was you shouldn't even touch this subject, it's disrespectful. but finally the thinking was, no, to not talk about it would be disrespectful. to not perpetuate the memory for another generation. so if you're too young to know,
here's a depiction. >> not since the war have emotions been so high in germany. the "holocaust" telecast caused heated discussion. its most tangible political effect was shown when the german legislature debated the search for nazi war criminals. "holocaust" made it easier for lawmakers to vote to continue the hunt for nazis. >> "holocaust" brought it home. it made it real, even though it was a hollywood creation. >> sunday night, "roots" begins in eight parts on abc. if it sounds like i'm plugging it, i am. basically, television will never be the same again. >> there was really no bigger television event than "roots." it was based on a 1976 book by alex haley about his family in africa and coming to america as slaves and what happens to them as the centuries go on. >> i will go to my grave believing that "roots" is america's story. it's not just black america's story.
>> we might have come over in the bottom of the ship, but we all came over on ships. >> my name means stay put. but it don't mean stay a slave. >> as a 19-year-old kid, it was my first job. >> we're not children. we're very close to being men. >> what's your name? >> kunta. kunta kintae. >> the character that i got to portray in "roots" was a dream role. >> it was really genius to cast all of america's favorite television dads in the roles of the white slave owners and the villains. >> i'll be by to fetch ya in the morning, captain. sleep well. >> it is difficult to explain in today's culture how unprecedented "roots" was. no one had ever seen the story of slavery before told from the point of view of the africans. >> it may be the first time that television allowed an embracing of black pride.
>> them is free. is free, honey. >> one of the reasons that "roots" was so incredibly popular is not because abc had so much faith in it, but because abc didn't. >> earlier miniseries were broadcast in weekly installments. and the abc executives determined that if "roots" were to fail, they could just be done with it in seven or eight nights. >> it was high risk, high reward. if it didn't work, you were out a lot of tv time and not many people watching. >> the television premiere on eight consecutive nights attracted the largest audience in the history of the media. >> there's something about it that seems to touch all human beings. it transcends age and race. >> entertainment was meeting humanity. i think that's the primary value is to lead humanity forward. >> if there's a legacy of television in the '70s, it's that you matter. >> while there's a lot going on in the world, television was a
reminder of how much little things mean to us. the smallest of situations. >> no matter what the subject matter was, it wanted to include you. you're in the family. don't make fun of the outsider. include them. >> its legacy is, look how long it's lasted. >> those shows were about people who were kind and nice. they were not mean-spirited shows. >> there was a certain elegance to that. i kind of miss it. >> oh, it was so delicious. five different flavors. and archie was sitting at another table with jefferson pratt, remember him? anyway, archie was trying to get my attention. so first he put two straws up his nose.
tonight our topic will be murder as a growth industry. >> murder has become an epidemic in america. >> in the last ten years, the homicide rate has increased by leaps and bounds. >> somebody fired a shot. >> these tragedies keep getting closer and closer to home. i'm afraid to let my kids walk out the door. >> urban crime wave will touch off a new round of gun buying. >> step out. >> i'll plead not guilty right now. >> there has been a disturbing growth in cult phenomenon in this country. >> i shall be god. and beside me there shall be no other. ♪