Classic television writers loved watching their fellow creators' shows as much as viewers did

Picture every show on network television in the 1970s getting together for one big sleepover.

You might think that with so many popular television shows in the 1970s, it might have fostered a bit of competition between writers and creators between shows, with each series struggling to become the top of the lineup.

Well, you may be disappointed, but most likely relieved, that you're only a little bit wrong. It turned out that many television creators still kept up as students themselves, and delighted in enjoying their potential competitions' content, rather than seeing them as a potential threat. In Ronald Brownstein's book, Rock Me On The Water, Rob Reiner said of the rush of new and exciting television in the 1970s, "There was a big wave of sophistication that happened, and we felt connected to everybody."

In an interview with the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Foundation, Norman Lear described Larry Gelbart of M*A*S*H as "perhaps the greatest wit" he had known. In addition, James L. Brooks of The Mary Tyler Moore Show said that the show's team watched the Saturday CBS lineup together as viewers and fans alike. He said, "We'd get in front of the television like America did. Watch it straight through." Brooks called special attention to All in the Family and added, "We used to sit and watch 'All in the Family'...it was groundbreaking and it was great."

Reiner, obviously known for playing Mike in All in the Family, is quoted in the book praising The Mary Tyler Moore Show. He said, "It was just really, really funny." That being said, it wasn't all love all of the time between these shows. Brooks had compared the experience of fellow shows to be "competition, fraternity, all that." He also added, "We all wanted to be the best." But perhaps it was precisely because each show's team wanted to be the best that they found themselves gravitating toward the television set to watch their potential competition, understanding that the talent that they saw on and off the screen would be a welcome learning experience in how they should go about strengthening their own show.

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8 Comments

CoreyC 7 months ago
Today's television writers create crap.
Bapa1 7 months ago
But here's a thought. How do you think writers for shows like Brady Bunch and Partridge Family felt, when compared to their 'silly' shows, they would see what their fellow writers were coming up with when they would watch a MASH, MTM, All In The Family, etc. Maybe they were glad they got paid, but they still must have been embarrassed.
Andybandit 7 months ago
I love all the different shows from the 60's-80's.
texasluva 7 months ago
Shouldn't David McCallum have a story on his passing? He played TV shows in the 60's until he passed away yesterday. R.I.P sir.
texasluva texasluva 7 months ago
David McCallum, the Scottish actor best known for his role on NCIS, died of natural causes at age 90 on Sept. 25. McCallum's breakout role was on the espionage series The Man From U.N.C.L.E., in which he played the Russian secret agent Illya Kuryakin, the partner of Robert Vaughn's American Napoleon Solo. McCallum went on to appear in films such as The Great Escape, The Greatest Story Ever Told, Freud, and A Night to Remember. He appeared in episodes of numerous popular TV shows, including Sex and the City, Law & Order, and The Outer Limits. The actor's biggest role in his later years came in NCIS, in which he played the cast's beloved father figure Chief Medical Examiner Donald "Ducky" Mallard. McCallum appeared in 457 episodes of the series, which has run for 20 seasons to date. McCallum is survived by his wife of 56 years, Katherine, as well as his four children and his eight grandchildren.
sputnik_57 texasluva 7 months ago
Early in his career he was in a couple of episodes of The Outer Limits ('60's series). I liked him as Tone in The Forms of Things Unknown along with Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Scott Marlowe, Vera Miles and Barbara Rush. Sad to hear of his passing.
LoveMETV22 8 months ago
" Picture every show on network television in the 1970s getting together for one big sleepover."
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The 1970's celebrities decided The Brady's Living Room would be a good place for the
big get together/sleepover. Maybe Alice will do the cooking.

🤣
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