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1961 CBS FALL PREVIEW
We've been looking back at past fall seasons lately; let's really reach back this time, to 1961. CBS was the leading network and their fall preview special was chock full of classic TV shows. You'll recognize an awful lot of them, this was a year of firsts. Notice who's missing? Lucy!

MONDAY NIGHTS

To Tell the Truth - Game shows were hot in 1961 but the quiz show scandals of the mid-fifties meant only celebrity panel shows with small payouts survived.

Window on Main Street - Robert Young had a long run with Father Knows Best but his follow up was a resounding bomb.

Pete & Gladys - Very funny sitcom starring Harry Morgan (Dragnet, M*A*S*H) and Cara Williams, a spinoff from December Bride. Very much like I Love Lucy, they shared writers and directors. Reruns were seen on CBS mornings for a few years.

The Danny Thomas Show - Ran from 1953-1957 on ABC and from 1957-1964 on CBS. Danny was responsible for TV's first reunion show when the cast regathered in 1965 for The Danny Thomas TV Family Reunion.

The Andy Griffith Show - First year for this spinoff from the show that preceded it. Andy still had the thick Southern twang he started the series with; it was softened after a short time.

Hennesey - Third and last tour of duty for this Naval sitcom. Star Jackie Cooper also produced and co-wrote this show.

I've Got A Secret - Hosted by Garry Moore who had a variety series on CBS at the same time.

TUESDAY NIGHTS

Marshall Dillon - A second night for Gunsmoke, this series featured reruns of previous seasons when the production ran a half hour.

The Dick Van Dyke Show - First season for what a lot of critics think was the best sitcom of all time. The show was so poorly rated CBS cancelled it but Carl Reiner appealed to the sponsors and got the program renewed. Top ten ratings and awards followed.

The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis - Tuesday nights were great for comedy on CBS. Dobie and Maynard entered Junior college this term only to find some of the same teachers.

PART TWO - (Tuesday nights)

Red Skelton - Variety hour that ran from 1951-1953 on NBC, 1953-1970 on CBS, followed by another lousy half-hour season on NBC.

Ichabod and Me - One season wonder produced by Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher (Amos 'n' Andy, Mayberry RFD).

The Garry Moore Show - Carol Burnett became a star on this musical variety hour. For the previous two seasons Allen Funt's Candid Camera was a regular feature on this show, Candid Camera returned in 1961 as a stand alone series.

WEDNESDAY NIGHTS

The Alvin Show - Inspired animated show starring The Chipmunks with one of the greatest theme songs of all time. The best The Chipmunks ever were or will be.

Father Knows Best - CBS broadcast this show the first year, 1954-55, then hastily let it escape to NBC where the homey sitcom ran for another 3 years. Oops! After that, CBS picked up the reruns for another two terms, this being the last.

Checkmate - Detective drama that aired from 1960-1962. Set in San Francisco, it starred Anthony George, Sebastian Cabot, and Doug McClure.

Mrs. G Goes To College - Gertrude Berg's unsuccessful return to TV after the shabby treatment The Goldbergs had with the medium. An episode appears on the Shout! DVD collection of The Goldbergs.

THURSDAY NIGHTS

The Bob Cummings Show - Quirky comedy about This show bounced between NBC and CBS between 1955-1959. This was a single season of reruns.

Frontier Circus - Westerns were the hottest thing on TV in 1961, this one starred Chill Wills but failed to get renewed.

The Investigators - Insurance gumshoes, another stiff for CBS in 1961, the show was yanked mid-season, something that was rarely done back then.

CBS Reports - Hour long CBS News program, the season before they aired the groundbreaking Harvest of Shame hosted by Edward R. Murrow who left TV in early-1961.

FRIDAY NIGHTS

Rawhide - Year 2 of 7, starred Eric Fleming and Clint Eastwood as Rowdy Yates.

PART THREE (Friday nights)

Route 66 - Still one of my favorite shows, the second of 4 seasons on CBS.

The Twilight Zone - Second season of Rod Serling's TV masterpiece.

Father of the Bride - Sitcom with Leon Ames and Ruth Warrick based on the popular movie from 1950. Lasted only one season.

Eyewitness (to History) - CBS News production hosted by Walter Cronkite.

SATURDAY NIGHTS

Perry Mason - TV's most famous barrister returned for a fifth season.

The Defenders - Acclaimed courtroom drama debuted for a 4 season run; starring E. G. Marshall and Robert Reed as father-and-son defense attorneys.

Have Gun Will Travel - Palladin worked out of San Francisco, an old west enforcer who solved bitter disputes with his charm, wit and, reluctantly, a six shooter if need be.

Gunsmoke - This year the series expanded to one hour, the most popular show in the nation for the last 4 years.

SUNDAY NIGHTS

G.E. College Bowl - Venerable contest between collegiate smart guys.

The 20th Century - Another CBS news show.

Mr. Ed - First year for the talking horse. Who would have guessed this show would have legs? Mr. Ed started in syndication, then moved to CBS this season for a 4 year gallop. Owner Rudd Weatherwax actually lost Lassie briefly in a poker game.

Lassie - Ran for an amazing 19 years on CBS, from 1954-1973.

Dennis the Menace - Aired from 1959 to 1963 on CBS.

Ed Sullivan Show - Massively popular variety show with the wooden host; 14 years on the air by 1961.

G.E. Theater - Anthology hour hosted by Ronald Reagan, the last of 10 seasons.

Jack Benny Program - For my money the funniest show of the year. Another personality that NBC and CBS tossed back and forth. Benny had one of the brightest and most popular radio programs on NBC, he moved to CBS radio in 1949. CBS TV put him on in 1950 where he ran until 1964. The show moved to NBC from 1964-1965.

Candid Camera - One of the longest running shows in TV history with more revivals than I can count. First aired on ABC, then NBC, then CBS, then syndication, then NBC, then CBS...

What's My Line - Another long-running celebrity panel program.

More 1961 Shows:

READ ABOUT ALL OF THE 1961 TV SHOWS .

Monday, July 24, 2007 - 8:07am
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MORE ON BIRTHDAY HOUSE
birthday houseKevin Butler writes: 'You've asked why is the kinnie film clip of Birthday House so popular with TVparty users? I believe the reason is the wonderful rapport of the show's performers / instructors, the late Paul & Ruth Tripp, Ms. Jan Lara, Ms. Kay Lande and the show's head puppeteer and the man who did the sounds for 'Mr. Knock Knock: The Birthday Gift Giving Closet' Mr. Tom Tichenor (who also played 'Strawtop The Silent Scarecrow Doll' on the show).

'These people entertained and informed their viewers and studio audiences without talking down to them, boring them or patronizing them. They knew how mix entertainment with education along with good child psychology because the Tripps' were former schoolteachers and performers/craftspersons from the theater, vaudeville, radio and nightclubs. They used superior showmanship to get the kids to learn and they made it fun. The 'Everybody Stretch' song is a good example of how they got the kids in the studio audience to exercise.

'The Tichenor Puppets didn't dominate the scenes and make the Tripps or anyone else on the show look foolish or become a passive straight man. The puppets worked with the hosts and treated them as equals. You don't get that with The Muppets.

'Finally, Paul Tripp had a good sense of humor and wasn't boring or bland like Mr. Rogers. He wasn't there to try and psychoanalyze the kids or try to make the world gentler or better for them. He wanted children to have fun because kids were celebrating their birthdays on the show.

'He also felt that the kids had the chance to learn. He had experience in educational kid's TV - he created, produced and hosted television's very first educational kids show Mr. I. Magination for the CBS TV network airing Sunday nights and Saturday mornings back in the late 1940's.

'Before the Tripps came on the scene there were no educators on TV so kids watched TV for fun not to learn. Paul & Ruth Tripp, Don Herbert (aka Mr. Wizard who passed away recently) and Ray Heatherton (the Merry Mailman) proved that if the show is a proper mixture of entertainment, learning and showmanship, television can teach something of value to children. This is sadly lacking today on PBS, the networks and on cable TV.'

Friday, July 20, 2007 - 11:44am
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TV ON DVD
Bob Huggins has more news of obscure shows coming to DVD: 'Looks like Universal is doing more licensing of its back catalog. In addition to Ironside and McHale’s Navy to Shout! Factory (both series have season 2 announced for upcoming DVD releases) and Banacek to Hart Sharp, it appears as if Universal has struck some sort of deal with the Timeless Media Group for a number of older Revue Studios series. Amazon is showing a September 18th release date for all of these.


'Checkmate (1960-62) - Detective series with Sebastian Cabot, Anthony George, and Doug McClure

'Cimarron City (1958-60) - Western with George Montgomery

'The Tall Man (1960-62) - Western with Barry Sullivan and Clu Gulager

'Riverboat (1959-61) - Western (Southern???) with Darren McGavin, Burt Reynolds, and Noah Beery, Jr.

'Laredo (1965-67) - Western with Peter Brown, Neville Brand, William Smith, and Philip Carey

'Restless Gun (1957-59) - Western with John Payne

'Outside of, maybe,
Checkmate and Laredo, I never thought any of these series would have even a remote chance of being released on DVD. There is no listing yet for any of these series at Timeless’ own site, so there’s little in the way of details as to what will be contained in each set.'

Thursday, July 19, 2007 - 2:46pm
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YOU'VE GOT MAIL
Stewart Cressin writes to say: 'I just watched a show on my local PBS station called Dance Party, The Teenarama Story. This was about a local Washington, D.C. teen show called 'Teenarama' that aired from 1963-70, but it also gave a short history of East Coast teen dance shows. It was fantastic! I would love to see some articles on teen dance shows on TVparty. I was born and raised in Baltimore and we had the Buddy Deane (talked about on Teenarama) and, later, Kirby Scott shows. We also had the syndicated Lloyd Thaxton show. Great memories.

'What's intriguing about Teenarama is that it was a dance show for the black community on a black station that broadcast on a UHF signal at a time when there was not much African-American presence on TV. Check out- dancepartytheteenaramastory.com.

'There's plenty of info on Buddy Deane and Milt Grant out there. Deane's show was the basis of the Corky Collins show from Hairspray. John Waters is, of course, a Baltimorean and he grew up during the era of the late 50s-early 60s.'

Bob Huggins writes with news about two fantastic DVD releases: 'I was reading your informative article about The Beulah Show and wanted to alert you that Alpha Video will be releasing a few episodes of this rare show on DVD on August 28th.

'Amazon.com is now showing the upcoming Route 66 set; it's still an October 23rd release date, but the studio listed is Infinity Resources, Inc. (the parent of Infinity Entertainment) and not Roxbury Entertainment.

'If, indeed, Route 66 is in the hands of Infinity, then I'm really happy as they seem committed to releasing TV series in their totality. Infinity has released classic/vintage series like Hopalong Cassidy, Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, and The Adventures of Jim Bowie, and has just released new sets of Suspense, The Real McCoys, and Bozo the Clown... so they're the real deal. The mystery as to who/what Roxbury Entertainment is/was remains.'

Thursday, July 19, 2007 - 10:10am
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WTF?!?
There are over 2,500 video clips exclusive to TVparty from well-known network shows to the most obscure locals. But what surprises me is that one show gets the most hits - it's an NYC local called Birthday House. I'm not sure why this show ganers more hits for video clips than any other - it's a total mystery to me. Let me share with you one more time the wonder that is Birthday House.

Here are some video clips
from the February 1966
episode of Birthday House
(in Real Player Format):

Paul greets the kids
Click here for Real Player Format / Quicktime Format
This ultra-rare kinescope is missing the theme song (and commercials) and cropped a bit askew because it was shot directly from the studio monitor. It picks up with Paul and his elegant co-host Ruth Enders (Tripp) as they open the show, inviting the children into their musical Birthday House, an enchanted cottage in the forest.

The Birthday march, the Spelling Bee, the gerbils and Ruth
Click here for Real Player Format / Quicktime Format
Lorraine Goodman tells us: 'I'm the one who's 4 - they called me 'Lorri' back then. My sister is Carrie, the 2 year old who gets all the special attention and stole the show!'
Is it my imagination or are Paul and the puppet trading double entendres during the gerbil bit?!?

Birthday HousePaul Tripp created and developed the catchy, fanciful songs with Ray Carter.
Click here for Real Player Format / Quicktime Format

Another of the tunes and one of the puppets
Click here for Real Player Format /Quicktime Format
This episode only exists because someone asked that a kinescope be made, a film they could take home - which was highly unusual, somebody had some pull at the TV station!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007 - 12:07pm
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Space GhostMY DINNER WITH ALEX
Warner Bros. just sent me a copy of the new Space Ghost & Dino Boy release and what a wonderful DVD collection this is. And I'm not referring to the cartoons themselves, although they are terrific. I grew up on this stuff, those mid-sixties Hanna-Barbera superhero cartoons were the most exciting things I'd ever seen as a comic book addicted kid.

No, this new release towers above the rest because of the amazing bonus feature - an hour and 17 minute long documentary on the life of Alex Toth that is EASILY worth the price of admission alone.

In it, you'll see samples from the book we produced, Dear John: the Alex Toth Doodle Book, and the tome's subject (TVparty contributor) John Hitchcock is interviewed in the film along with some major names in the comic book and animation field. This lavishly produced documentary traces Toth's entire life, a stirring, inspiring and emotionally moving look at this enigmatic artist. It's the finest documentary I've seen with a TV on DVD release, surprisingly thorough and richly illustrated with examples of his work, a fitting tribute to a towering talent. Click here to order the DVD now.

Alex Toth with Billy Ingram

I visited Alex Toth once at his home in Hollywood back in 1986, I think it was. I was living in Silver Lake (the hills above Los Angeles) at the time when John Hitchcock and a friend of his were out in So Cal for the convention in San Diego. We all went over to Toth's for a pre-arranged visit.

Alex gave me directions to his home over the phone - I'm used to following precise instructions so I wrote down everything he said. He told us to walk to the right after we parked - except we found out he lived to the left. That had us walking around a bit before we realized the error. When Alex opened the door he chastised me about not following his instructions and about people in general being too lazy to follow directions, he was a complete jerk about it.

I figured he was just being passive aggressive, I was working with some temperamental talent in the movie biz so I let it go for the sake of my friends who were thrilled to be finally meeting their idol. Hell, I'd admired the guy's work since I was 12 years old (after first hating it, naturally), I was the one who turned John on to Alex Toth back in junior high. But I really wanted to tell him to go fuck himself.

I'm glad I didn't. Alex was very generous with his time, he gave us a tour of his portfolio then took us to lunch at that Mexican place across from Warner Bros. studios in Burbank. It was an afternoon I'll never forget. I've rarely met someone that I admired as much as Toth, that's why it was such an honor to work on his last project, one he was very excited about. I only regret he never saw the finished product as he died while it was en route to the printer.

Click here for the story behind the book, it's nominated for an Eisner Award that will be given out at the huge Comic Con in San Diego in a coupla weeks. It's Alex's book so naturally I hope he wins.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007 - 12:26pm
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NEW DVD RELEASE
Paul Lynde Halloween special DVDThis DVD I'm looking forward to, from the press release: Wherever Paul Lynde appeared, the audience knew they would witness comedic brilliance and rapid-fire wit. The actor/comedian, perhaps best known for his classic residency as the center square of the famous game show, 'Hollywood Squares,” was an accomplished Broadway actor, as well as a regular on some of the most revered television programs of the late ‘60s.

But it is 'THE PAUL LYNDE HALLOWEEN SPECIAL' that best captures the brilliant comedian in a holiday special that featured a literal 'who’s who' of the entertainment business including the first prime time television appearances of rock icon KISS and film star Margaret Hamilton, the original wicked witch from The Wizard Of Oz, appearing in full witch regalia. This unique special aired only once, on October 29, 1976.

'THE PAUL LYNDE HALLOWEEN SPECIAL' is a television 'classic' in the truest sense of the word, making this single disc DVD uniquely collectible. The priceless humor is supplied by such talented guests as Tim Conway, Billy Barty, Margaret Hamilton (The Wicked Witch of the West), Billy Hayes (Witchie Poo from 'H.R. Pufnstuf') and Florence Henderson with cameo appearances by Betty White, Donnie & Maria Osmond and Roz Kelly (Pinky Tuscadero from 'Happy Days'). The show has always been the ‘holy grail for KISS fans as the super group performs 3 songs: 'Beth', 'King of the Nighttime World' and 'Detroit Rock City'

It's available for pre-order from Amazon right now for 11 bucks.

Monday, July 16, 2007 - 8:47am
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FROM THE MAIL
I got this in response to John Hitchcock's article on Buddy 'Killer' Austin.

Buddy 'killer' austin

Buddy killer austin pictureHi, I worked with Buddy Austin, fought with Austin in and out of the ring. Had dinner with his wife and kids. Buddy Austin was my best friend. There has never been any wrestler who did not know he had been in the ring with Buddy for about 4 or 5 days after the match. Or if he found himself in a bar with Buddy he never forgot it!

As Lou Thez said he was and will alway's be the world champ. (Lou won the WWA World championship and it would be Lou's last from Buddy in Oct, 1966 and lost it to Mark Lewin in two weeks.)

Buddy had a heart as big as anybody in the world, but he was the last wrestler you wanted to piss off. My question is do you have any of Buddy's matches at all. I know that all the KTLA Los Angeles Wrestling was burned in the early '70s. By any chance do you have anything of Austin? If you do please let me know.

Also when you watched what he did in that tent you laughed - what you don't know is he was not playing a game! To be in the ring with Buddy Killer Austin it was as REAL as anything gets! To Vince McMahon, his dad would of told him, 'There is no hall of fame without KILLER AUSTIN.'

- Alan Colker

Thursday, July 12, 2007 - 1:33pm
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TV & DVD
Sorry I've been so slack with my blogging duties lately, a combination of deadlines and the need to move away from the computer for a while.

One thing I'm excited about - I'm writing an article for our leading weekly paper on The Old Rebel Show which was cancelled 30 years ago next month. It's pretty rare for modern publications to be interested in what is now an obscure subject matter. Local TV children's hosts are so much a part of our past and, sadly, have nothing to do with the state of local television today.

I while back I told you about a DVD collection with the best commentary tracks I've come across (The Best of Gunsmoke Volumes 1 & 2). Last night I discovered what must be the worst commentary track ever.

Roseanne Season 5 sports a couple of episodes where Roseanne is seen in a square in the corner watching the episode and making comments. But she has almost nothing to say about what's going on on the screen or behind the scenes. Just comments about her hair extensions and, 'that was a funny line.'

The shows themselves are fantastically funny, with storylines that unfold like a soap opera. Roseanne might be the best sitcom of all time for my money, I started watching with season 6, followed by season 7, then went back to seasons 4 & 5.

I'm doing the same thing with Cheers, another sitcom that holds up well today depending on what season you're watching. I'd only seen a couple of episodes of the first season when the show first debuted, although I can't imagine under what circumstances since I don't think I owned a TV set in 1982.

Anyway, thanks to DVD, I started watching Cheers a few months ago beginning with the sixth season, that was the first without Dianne Chambers (Shelly Long) and I found myself enjoying it quite a bit. There were plenty of hearty laughs so I started watching the first season - now THAT was a wonderful show, it's easy to see why Cheers became such a monster hit. Nicholas Colasanto's performance as Coach was priceless and the emsemble cast seemed to click right away. It seems as if the characters were fully drawn from the very beginning. That hardly ever happens, Mary Tyler Moore Show and All in the Family spring to mind.

For me it was Coach that really provided the wind for the sails, no wonder he was nominated for an Emmy every year he was on the show. When Colasanto passed away in 1985, producers replaced him with a younger model (the similarly dim-witted character Woody was a friend of Coach's who came to visit and ended up with his job.)

I skipped to the fourth season which suffers from the cutes. Everything and everyone got so precious and loveable. Aaawww - Norm sings with a Barbershop Quartet. Aaawwww - Carla interviews her teen daughter's date. Aaaawww - they're having conversations about old TV shows. And the Sam & Diane show was getting stale.

It was my understanding that the cast encouraged Shelly Long to quit the series; they just wanted her gone for the sake of the show (she was hell to work with) so they cheered her on to persue a film career that ultimately went nowhere.

With the weakest link removed, Cheers became an edgier comedy, developing the infinitely more interesting supporting players like Dr. Frasier Crane, Lilith, Woody and the rest.

Although still wildly better than most of what's on today, by the seventh season the jokes became stuck in a particular rhythmic pattern - setup, joke. You almost expect a drummer to be just off camera doing rim shots with every other line. Cheers, which redefined the modern sitcom, seemed to become a near parody of itself with a too-predictable pitter pat. I'm anxious to dip into season 8 to see where the show went and if it got better.

I remember when when I was working in the movie poster biz, one of the many films we were working on during the Christmas holidays was Camp Beverly Hills. Shelly Long, the star of the film, was kind enough to send over a huge basket of chocolate chips - potato chips that is, dipped in white chocolate. It was a nice gesture.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007 - 10:24am
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ATTACK OF THE DIVAS!
I've brought these to you before but what the heck. What happens when Martha Raye ('The Big Mouth') and Tallulah Bankhead get together - it's rat-a-tat-tat humor from The Big Show on NBC Radio in 1951. Those were the days! (I guess - I hadn't been born yet.)

Marlene Dietrich guest starred on Tallulah's show and the two quickly got catty.

If there was one entertainer Tallulah disliked it was Bette Davis - Bette was hot again with All About Eve which Tallulah felt was a ripoff of her performing style. It was only natural she would take a few shots at Miss Davis from her NBC program.

Friday, July 6, 2007 - 6:25pm
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FUN FOURTH
Happy Independence Day to everyone who's in front of a computer. I've got deadlines myself... Let me point you to some patriotic video clips exclusively on TVparty!

John Wayne on televisionOn November 29, 1970, John Wayne starred in an NBC special sponsored by Budweiser. Swing Out, Sweet Land became one of the top-rated television events of all time, reaching into more than 30 million homes.

It was also the most expensive TV special to date, budgeted at a staggering $2 million. The 90-minute production was a Hollywood parade of stars - Red Skelton, Tom Smothers, Lorne Greene, Dean Martin, Bob Hope, Rowan & Martin and others lined up to praise the good old USA in historical sketches and patriotic songs.

In this segment starring John Wayne, Red Skelton and Tommy Smothers, conservative and liberal messages converged in a recitation of Benjamin Franklin's definition of what it is to be an American.

Jessica TandyNext we have the brilliant actress Jessica Tandy (Driving Miss Daisy) with a Bicentennial minute. This is rare stuff. Each night for two years (talk about a build up) at the 9:00 hour on CBS.

Woody Allen, Joanne Worley & Jonathan Winters tell us how US currency is made from the Saturday Morning classic Hot Dog (1970-71).

Wednesday, July 4, 2007 - 8:07pm
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Hit Shows of the Seventies: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy / Gene Roddenberry in the 1970s / Star Trek Animated / Fall Previews of the 70s / Lance Link, Secret Chimp / Star Wars Holiday Special / Alias Smith and Jones / 1977 Year in Review / Top Ten 1970-76 / The Rockford Files / All in the Family / Sam Hall (Dark Shadows) Interview / Actor Ed Nelson / Death of Archie / Battlestar Galactica / Wonder Woman / Network Jingles / Class of '74 / Happy Days / Good Times / Mr. Bill / Dinah! / Maude / Doris Day Show / Pamelyn Ferdin Interview / The Bicentennial Minute / Jingles & Catch Phrases of the 1970s / Early Cable TV 1970s / TV commercials for Women / TV Moms / Bette Midler in the 1970s / Biff Burger

 

 

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Diver Dan TV show on DVD The Love Boat on DVD Soupy Sales Show on DVD Honey West on DVD Beulah TV show on DVD Batman 1966 TV Show on DVD Tennessee Tuxedo on DVD
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