ABC-TV Was the Place to Be on Friday Nights in the 1970s

Herbie J Pilato

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If you grew up in the 1970s, Friday nights were heaven because of ABC-TV.

It was the last day of school before the weekend, and maybe you should have done your homework immediately, instead of waiting until Sunday night (which had its own brand of television fun).

But you know you didn't.

You couldn't.

Not with shows like The Brady Bunch (Marcia, Marcia, Marcia), The Partridge Family (starring the legendary Shirley Jones and her soon-to-be iconic stepson David Cassidy), and others including The Odd Couple, Room 222, and Love, American Style were just a TV-click away.

For a while, and in between those shows, other fun programming like Nanny and the Professor, and a TV adaptation of the classic feature film, Adam's Rib, were also thrown into the periodic mix.

So, it was hard to study your Spelling or Arithmetic, when it was a lot more enjoyable to find out what was going on in the lives of the Bradys or the Partridges, or that of Felix and Oscar, the school gang of Room 222, and the various, if slightly risques adventures over at Love, American Style.

You could stay up as long as you wanted (at least, we did in my house) because the next day was Saturday morning (which like Sunday night, had its own magical TV watchables).

And many a Friday night in the 1970s, ABC aired various editions of their Saturday Morning Preview Specials, which only added to the excitement every September at the start of the new TV season.

In the mid-1970s, ABC briefly added the one-hour action-adventure series, The Six Million Dollar Man. But that soon moved to Sunday nights, and ABC's original 1970s comedy line-up is still what is best remembered by countless TV fans of that generation.

Who could forget when the Bradys vacationed in the Grand Canyon or Hawaii? Or when they got stuck in that ghost town, which, by the way, the Partridges at one point did as well.

Or how about when you knew something was different about The Odd Couple when it switched formats in the second season? It featured the same stars: Tony Randall as neat-freak photographer Felix Unger and Jack Klugman as the sloppy sportswriter Oscar Madison. But it was no longer filmed like a movie (in fact, the show was adapted from the 1968 feature film starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau).

Now, the misadventures of Felix and Oscar were filmed in front of a live audience (like many shows had been by that time).

But that essentially was the only show that transitioned into a new format of filming.

The others remained the same, such as Room 222, which in and of itself, was the most unique series on ABC's Friday night line-up in the 1970s.

Ahead of its time in every way, Room 222 was one of TV's first 'dramedies'; meaning it was a half-comedy/half-drama, filmed without an audience or a laugh track.

Created by James L. Brooks, the brainchild behind the CBS Saturday night staple, The Mary Tyler Moore Moore Show, Room 222 featured a stellar cast including the great Lloyd Haynes (who died much too soon in 1987 from throat cancer), Michael Constantine (much later of My Big Fat Greek Wedding), Denise Nicholas (one of my first crushes), and Karen Valentine (another crush).

But by the end of 1975, those precious ABC Friday nights were over.

However, they will never be forgotten.

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Herbie J Pilato is the author of several books about pop culture including THE 12 BEST SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS: A TREASURE HOUSE OF DECEMBER MEMORIES REVEALED, MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY, TWITCH UPON A STAR, GLAMOUR, GIDGETS AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, DASHING, DARING AND DEBONAIR, and NBC & ME: MY LIFE AS A PAGE IN A BOOK, among others. He's also a TV writer/producer, and has worked for Reelz, Bravo, E!, TLC, and hosted THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, the hit classic TV talk show (which premiered on Amazon Prime in 2019).

Los Angeles, CA
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