1975 TV Sees One Juggernaut End, Another Begin

Here’s how different things were for TV in 1975. The Wikipedia page for 1975 in American television can literally just list every show that was on TV at the time. Really. There wasn’t cable yet. It’s all network TV, and FOX didn’t even exist yet. It’s pretty fascinating. Also, there was a lot of impressive television on in 1975. Even without cable, you could get by. So what were the notable events in 1975’s television landscape? Let me get to it.

Apparently 1975 was when a lot of soap operas moved to hour-long episodes. Also, soaps were still huge in the ‘70s. Every network had a few. They were what they aired during the day, alongside game shows. Speaking of game shows, The Price is Right also became an hour-long show in 1975. The was also the year Jeopardy! ended and Wheel of Fortune began. Yes, you read that right. Jeopardy! ended in 1975. It came back in syndication in 1984, now with Alex Trebek as host. That was history making right there. This was also when movies being shown on TV was huge, because you couldn’t just throw something on streaming, or even rent VHS tapes. However, in 1975 NBC had to start a showing of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory in the middle because a football game went into overtime. I mention this because the famous “Heidi” game happened in 1968 so I won’t be able to cover it. This was an infamous day when NBC decided to cut from a game between the Raiders and Jets to start Heidi on time. People were not fans of that decision.

Ron Palillo, Horshack on 'Welcome Back, Kotter,' dies at 63

Some notable shows debuted in 1975. One of them is Welcome Back, Kotter which turned John Travolta into a star. I really liked that show as a kid, but as an adult it does not hold up. It’s such a corny sitcom. Two notable spinoffs debuted that year as well. The Jeffersons was certainly more successful than Phylis, which was a Mary Tyler Moore Show spinoff. Wonder Woman with Lynda Carter hit the airwaves. I always felt like that show ran earlier, mostly because I compare it to Batman, and that show began in 1966. Oh, and a show called NBC’s Saturday Night debuted. You may know it better as Saturday Night Live.

In terms of shows ending, Mannix and The Odd Couple both aired their final episodes. However, the show I want to point out is Gunsmoke, which left the airwaves in 1975. Why is this particularly notable? Because Gunsmoke began airing in 1955. It ran for 635 episodes. Until The Simpsons came around, it was the longest-running episodic scripted series. Or something like that. Television records are weirdly specific.

That’s just the stuff beginning and ending. There were many other notable shows on TV. Now, you can watch them pretty much whenever you want streaming. And you can watch football and Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory without worrying about them messing with each other.

About Chris Morgan

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