Lorne Greene was not embarrassed by ''flop'' crime-drama series following Bonanza's success

"Everyone has got to fail from time to time," Greene said.

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Have you ever wondered what life after Bonanza was like for its stars? Finding work was easy for Lorne Greene, but it was a struggle for the actor to recreate the type of success Bonanza saw with another production.

Greene would guest star on series here and there after Bonanza ended, but he was the main character on a '70s crime-drama called Griff. Many would say the show was supposed to be his major "follow-up" performance to his successful run on the classic Western; however, it didn't even make it past one season.

Griff was a flop but a notable one. Yet, Greene didn't blame anyone else for its lack of success. In an interview with The Sacramento Bee in 1974, the actor talked about what he felt went wrong.

"It's my fault. I'm not going to cop out and blame anyone else. I simply should have refused to do the first six shows," he said. "What went wrong? It was as simple as ABC. No, really, I have no hard feelings against anyone."

What was the issue? According to Greene, there were slight differences between what he and the producers wanted Griff to be.

"It was just a matter of different philosophies. I wanted a series that was strong on characterization. The network wanted to do a 'puzzle' show. It took me six segments and a lot of quiet screaming to get my way."

Greene's outlook helped turn the show around.

"We got off, you might say, on the wrong foot — on two left feet! My character was as hollow as an empty barrel. And until I got things turned around — which was akin to trying to turn around the Queen Mary — Griff was about as bad as a show can be."

With the actor's help, the right audience found its way to the production, and it even saw a slight increase in viewership, but it was too late.

"The last six segments we filmed were [fine] drama, and it was encouraging to see that the ratings were beginning to rise. But the turnaround came too late to save the show," Greene said.

Was he embarrassed? Far from it. Failure is a part of life; you can't succeed without it. In Greene's words, "Everyone has got to fail from time to time."

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13 Comments

Wiseguy70005 8 months ago
I don't think anyone mentioned that the 1973 Fall season was a huge flop because of a massive writers' strike. Most programs were behind and had to rush to get in production. About the only series to last in that season was Kojak (also Police Story, but that was an anthology) and the premiere was delayed into October (commonplace today, but rare back then.)
Runeshaper 11 months ago
"Failure is a part of life; you can't succeed without it." I am totally living that right now :-(
AgingDisgracefully 11 months ago
On the DVD Commentary of The Invaders, Larry Cohen says the Griff concept was hijacked by Quinn Martin to "create" Barnaby Jones. Cohen shrugged it off in a That's Show Biz way.

Maybe MeTV could show this and other short-run shows in a dedicated time slot. Perhaps...Flotsam and Jetsam. Familiar faces and old-time behaviors are always entertaining.
How can Barnaby Jones be a rip-off of Griff when Barnaby Jones first aired in January, and Griff first aired in September?
I understood Griff to be in the planning stage when the QM people heard and beat them to the punch. Hence, Acts I-II-III-IV and Epilogue, per instructions in the scripture of Quinn.
David37643 11 months ago
Lorne Greene wasn't sure about GRIFF from the beginning. He spoke on Johnny Carson about there being too many detective series on TV at that time. I think he jumped to quick after Bonanza....Jim Arness did the same thing with his cop series......Both men were great cowboys.
Bapa1 11 months ago
Never heard of it. I wonder how he felt about The Battlestar Galactia series?
moonrunner444 Bapa1 8 months ago
Apparently, he liked Galactica, because he was a fan of science fiction.
LoveMETV22 11 months ago
Good story. It certainly sounds as though Lorne Greene had a realistic frame of mind about the Entertainment Industry on the whole. Always enjoy seeing him on Bonanza and in other roles as well. A memorable actor in many respects.
Andybandit 11 months ago
Lorne Greene was a good actor. I never heard of Griff.
cperrynaples Andybandit 11 months ago
I remember it! Ben Murphy from Alias Smith & Jones was his partner and Vic Tayback from Alice was his boss!
cperrynaples 11 months ago
The time slot was the problem! CBS had Carol Burnett and NBC had movies!
tootsieg cperrynaples 11 months ago
Definitely.
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