Throwback Thursday, Old TV Edition

From The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present by Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh a picture of the page showing the TV schedule from the season during which I was born, the 1959-60 season. No, I am not a TV character…



As you can see, the schedule is dominated by Westerns. There were 30 prime-time Western series on American TV in this season. Four seasons later, that number had dwindled to 8. Of course, the most-watched TV show was Gunsmoke; Wagon Train and Have Gun Will Travel were second and third in the ratings, respectively. From TV Guide a picture from the first season of Gunsmoke:


See the source image


On the left, of course, is the star of the show: James Arness as Matt Dillon. Gunsmoke was produced and shown on CBS for 20 seasons. That was the longest run by any live-action, primetime series on US television until September, 2019 when the 21st season of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit debuted.

I have a confession to make: I have never seen an episode of Gunsmoke. I have another confession to make: the primetime TV schedule shown below (also from the Brooks and Marsh book) is more interesting to me than the one from 1959-60:



This is the first primetime TV “schedule,” from the 1946-47 “season.” For some reason, the beginning of an endeavor is often far more interesting to me than after that endeavor becomes established. OK, what network is represented by the “D” in the listing? That is the DuMont network that folded in the mid-1950s.

Do you see the show listed at the bottom called Voice of Firestone Televues? I am fascinated by that show because it might very well be the first network series. NBC began feeding its Monday night schedule to TV stations in Philadelphia and Schenectady, New York–in addition to being shown on its New York City station–in April of 1944.

Ironically, my interest in automobiles does not exactly follow the same pattern. While I appreciate the significance of the first cars–Benz, Duryea, etc.–they don’t appeal to me and I have not studied them much. I am, however, far more interested in the automobile business before the consolidation into the few large companies that exist today.

What idiosyncratic interests do you have?








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8 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday, Old TV Edition

  1. My idiosyncratic interest is the same as yours. Television and its history. In fact my copy of that book is autographed by Dawn Wells, Russell Johnson and Bob Denver.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, “BB.” Why do I hear the opening theme from Gilligan’s Island in my head?! 🙂

      Of course, TV is not the same as it was when all the broadcasts were over-the-air and prime-time programming came from just three networks. It will never be that way again, either.


  2. Re TV:
    One of the things that chaffs my hide is the amount of commercials these days. I seem to recall from my younger days, MAYBE 5-6 minutes of commercials in a 30 minute show. These days? Approx 9-10 minutes in the same half hour.


      1. I also seem to recall one of the selling points of cable when it was first being introduced was that it was going to cut back on the amount of commercials in the programs.

        That sure has worked out well hasn’t it? (rolls eyes)


      2. I am an advocate of capitalism, as opposed to any other economic system, but EVERYTHING is a trade-off. The quest for dollars is a dominant paradigm and often leads to less than desirable results, even in small ways.


  3. I recall watching most of those westerns in the 1959-60 season. My two favorite things to watch in which James Arness acted are movies “Them” and “The Thing from Another World”. “Them” is about giant ants which resulted from atomic bomb testing. “The Thing” is about a vegetable Martian who crash lands in the Arctic. You never see Mr. Arness’ face the movie as he is “the Thing”. As a side note James Arness had a brother who was also an actor, Peter Graves.
    My idiosyncratic interests: cars and movies.


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