Television: The Coming Season

Enter the graveyard. Read the small stones: Frontier Circus, Oct. 5, 1961—May 24, 1962; Cain's Hundred, Sept. 19, 1961—May 8, 1962; Father of the Bride, Oct. 6, 1961—May 18, 1962; Bus Stop, Oct. 1, 1961—March 25, 1962. But curiously, there are fewer this year. The infant mortality rate among television shows has gone into a slight decline. TV's mediocrity is apparently becoming institutional, and some programs are being kept alive for next season that would have been kicked into oblivion in the more ruthless years.

Shows like Hazel, Margie and Mr. Ed (the corn-talking horse) are actually coming back next fall, and the new season will further reflect the old with such unforget table concentrations of dramatic power as Leave It to Beaver, My Three Sons and The Real McCoys. Even Car 54, Where Are you? has been granted a stay of execution, although no one has ever known where it really was.

Vets & Psyches. There will, in fact, be some new things on television this fall. In a series called The Eleventh Hour (NBC), Wendell Corey will become TV's first weekly psychiatrist, having analyzed already the remarkable 1961-62 success of Drs. Casey and Kildare (both returning, of course). There will be a program called The Nurses on CBS and, perhaps to satisfy a large segment of the mass audience, a new show about a veterinarian (NBC). Its cast includes all sorts of known animals and two unknown actors named Josh Peine and John Hubbard.

But more than to medicine, TV's new weeklies are turning to World War II. NBC will ship somebody called Ensign O'Toole out to the Pacific, while ABC will fight in both hemispheres and on all fronts: Combat will follow U.S. soldiers from Normandy across France and into Germany; The Gallant Men will campaign in Italy; and Ernest Borgnine, in McHale's Men, will skipper a PT boat in the South Pacific as a sort of Marty Fitzgerald Kennedy.

New situation comedies will be stretching further than ever for their situations. Perennial Loretta Young will be a widow with seven children. There will be rustic mountain folk living in Los Angeles (The Beverly Hillbillies), carpenters exchanging old saws (I'm Dickens . . . He's Fenster), and Stanley Holloway as a British butler on the staff of an American family (Our Man Higgins). The producers of The Flintstones have a new family called The Jetsons, who live one century in the future. Mrs. Jetson has a high-IQ vacuum cleaner that can see, think and maneuver on its own. It dumps its load under the carpet.

Comedy is having a comeback, and some of television's great names are returning after doleful absences. Jackie Gleason will revive The Honeymooners (with a new supporting cast) as part of his resurrected Jackie Gleason Show. Both Sid Caesar and Lucille Ball are returning in shows named after them, and Jack Paar's abdication ends with the new weekly Jack Paar Show. on Digg


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