Geek Out is back after a summer vacation and the new fall TV season has had me thinking about TV seasons past… long past actually. In November 1976, ABC aired the first Battle of the Network Stars specials. Remember who fabulous these were? Howard Cosell presided over two hours of challenges involving stars from ABC, CBS and NBC prime time shows. ABC aired a couple of these shows a year until 1988.
The stars on the show were pretty incredible. Check out this participant list from the first show.
For ABC: Gabe Kaplan (captain, Welcome Back, Kotter), Darleen Carr (The Streets of San Francisco), Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman), Farrah Fawcett (Charlie’s Angels), Richard Hatch (The Streets of San Francisco), Robert Hegyes (Welcome Back, Kotter), Ron Howard (Happy Days) , Hal Linden (Barney Miller), Penny Marshall (Laverne & Shirley), and John Schuck (Holmes & Yo-Yo).
For CBS: Telly Savalas (captain, Kojak), Adrienne Barbeau (Maude), Gary Burghoff (M*A*S*H), Kevin Dobson (Kojak), Pat Harrington, Jr. (One Day at a Time), Bill Macy (Maude), Lee Meriwether (Barnaby Jones), Mackenzie Phillips (One Day at a Time), Loretta Swit (M*A*S*H) and Jimmie Walker (Good Times).
For NBC: Robert Conrad (captain, Baa Baa Black Sheep), Melissa Sue Anderson (Little House on the Paririe), Karen Grassle (Little House on the Paririe), Tim Matheson (The Quest), Ben Murphy (Gemini Man), Barbara Parkins (Captains and the Kings), Joanna Pettet (Captains and the Kings), Kevin Tighe (Emergency!), Bobby Troup (Emergency!) and Demond Wilson (Sanford and Son).
For some 70s TV at its best, here are the opening titles for this episode (titles would never happen like this today as nine minutes of titles and intros is simply unheard of).
One of the great moments in the show was Simon Says. Here’s that game from the 12th episode in 1982.
I watched all of these shows, even NBC’s failed attempt to bring it back in 2003. I think that failed though becuase it should’ve just been called Battle of the NBC Stars because no one else participated. The original ABC show was classic though as it paired up starts for swimming races, dunking booths, volleyball games, tug-of-war and more. Trio once ran a few of these episodes a few years ago before that network bit the dust, but basically they’ve disappeared from TV and aren’t on DVD either, which is just too bad.
Can you imagine how fun it would be to gather some of the hot stars from the networks today for this competition? How about CW’s Jared Padalecki in a skimpy swimsuit for swimming? Or the cast of Fox’s Fringe taking on ABC’s Lost in a tug-of-war? What about NBC’s Law and Order: SVU vs. CBS’ CSI. With all the other reality on TV, this would fit in nicely, right?