The Unofficial Fansite Of



Starring


THERE'S MORE TO BOB DENVER'S TV RESUME THAN GILLIGAN, MAYNARD AND DUSTY!

SEPTEMBER 2, 2005: A FINE COMEDY TEAM REUNITED FOR ETERNITY

SEE THE SECOND SEASON PAGE UNDER "AFTER THE DINER CLOSED" FOR MORE DETAILS

Here it is--the only fansite that pays homage to Bob Denver's third and last prime time TV sitcom for CBS, The Good Guys. Most people don't seem to remember it even existed (or maybe don't even care), but I certainly do. This was perhaps my favorite new TV series of the 1968-69 season. Why this one, when the runaway hits were Julia, The Mod Squad and Hawaii Five-O? Well, for one thing, my taste in shows occasionally tended to gravitate toward the "underdogs". For another, I loved the musical underscoring (by the late, great Jerry Fielding) and the theme song (by Bob Livingston and Ray Evans, with Fielding). But just as significantly, this was a different sitcom for late-sixties TV--no well-scrubbed suburban families or implausible gimmicks, but instead, here was a chance to see Denver star in a new sitcom in which he wasn't stuck on a desert island week after week with a group of schemers who made him their gullible pawn, although sadly, his character here would also become a gullible pawn for the show's two supporting characters come Season Two.

One more reason this series sticks out in my mind so much is the unfortunate fact that it was tape-delayed and unceremoniously dumped into the Saturday-afternoon ghetto by the local CBS affiliate I had at the time, KCMO-TV (now KCTV) in Kansas City, Missouri. Seems they thought the half-hour it took up on Wednesday nights would be better served by some fishing show. And when CBS moved it to Friday nights in the second (and final) season, guess what the programming honchos at KCMO did? That's right--they moved the fishing show to Friday as well and left The Good Guys stuck on Saturday afternoons for the rest of its run. Uh, gee guys, wouldn't it have made more sense to run a fishing show on Saturday afternoon and let the network entry run in prime time? BTW, it was because of this ill-advised schedule tampering that it took me MONTHS to find out this show was produced by Talent Associates Ltd. At the end of nearly every delayed broadcast in K.C., the audio of the closing credits was clipped and replaced by a nasal voiced KCMO announcer saying "The preceding program was a recording of a program seen earlier on CBS" , with the credits cut off and replaced by a still of the CBS eye. My only chance to see an actual Wednesday night airing came in July 1969, when we went on summer vacation to Vero Beach, Florida (partially due to the coming historic moon shot and partially because my father wanted us to see the Atlantic Ocean), where it was seen at the regular night and time over WTVX in Fort Pierce (it's a CW affiliate these days).

In fact, there were a few other CBS affiliates that treated the Guys like second-class citizens. KEYC-TV in Mankato, Minnesota and WAGA-TV in Atlanta, Georgia (the latter of which would switch to Fox in the 1990s) also reduced the series to a Saturday afternoon throwaway; I found out about the Atlanta delay during a Saturday stopover on the way to Florida when I turned on the hotel room TV and was surprised to find the episode from the previous Wednesday. Viewers of WMT-TV in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (now KGAN) got to see the first season eps on Wednesdays, but missed the second season entirely, without so much as a delayed broadcast. Quad Cities viewers alledgedly were taken in the other direction: WHBF-TV declined to carry Guys anywhere in the schedule during Season One, but allowed it on Fridays during the less-satisfying Season Two. But one of the areas that got the rawest deal of all--complete pre-emption of Guys, period--was another Missouri market. Columbia/Jefferson City was a two-affiliate market until 1971 when the ABC affiliate currently known as KMIZ-TV signed on over UHF Channel 17 (yet another sad by-product of the FCC's failure to allocate UHF and VHF channels on a non-intermixed basis). So until then, CBS station KRCG-TV in J. City wound up carrying a number of top-rated ABC offerings via tape delay, including The Lawrence Welk Show which, during the 1968-69 season, they opted to run Wednesdays from 7 to 8 PM, thereby wiping out The Good Guys without so much as a Saturday-afternoon delay. The second-season episodes weren't bumped for Welk (maybe his show was picked up Saturdays over NBC station KOMU-TV in Columbia by then), but KRCG nonetheless pulled a KCMO on their audience and bumped both Get Smart and Guys in favor of the locally-produced Ozark Opry followed by the syndicated(?) Buck Owens Show. But since Owens' big CBS summer hit Hee Haw was to return to the network that coming December, maybe the Owens show ended production and maybe KRCG relented enough to at least clear Get Smart for the remainder of its sole CBS season.

Why did The Good Guys get no respect from so many CBS outlets? My personal theory: Talent Associates' previous contribution to the CBS Wednesday night lineup in the 1967-68 season was the critically-acclaimed, Emmy-winning He & She starring Richard Benjamin and Paula Prentiss, produced and directed by many who would go on to work on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Both series were urban in tone and sophisticated in execution, but as Benjamin had once pointed out in an interview, the series shared the same CBS programming block with Jed Clampett and Arnold The Pig, and viewers might not have known what to make of this odd addition to the evening's schedule. But a fair number of local affiliates must have been pulling for it, running it on Wednesdays. So when the ax fell and TA Ltd. successfully sold CBS on a new sitcom for Wednesdays that coming fall--a slapstick offering starring TV's former Gilligan--some of those station managers became outraged and vowed to give it the brush-off.

But hey, look. It's been more than 30 years now since anyone in the U.S. has ever been able to see a single episode. It's never been in domestic distribution at ALL--not in syndication, not even on cable. The only way to see it these days (so far) is to obtain public domain prints of only a handful of episodes on mail-order video, most of which aren't even in color as the CBS prints were. BTW, all show photos used on this site (except those with an E! bug in the corner) came from the four P.D. eps I own, and no copyright infringment is implied. And I resolutely refuse to believe that The Good Guys, with a run of far less than 100 episodes that didn't quite reach classic status and a star who will forever be identified as "Gilligan", period, deserves to spend eternity gathering dust in a film vault somewhere (or even destroyed, God forbid), when we live in a cable universe in which a network like TV Land can run episodes of My Mother The Car and even Me And The Chimp, and still be forgiven. I've asked Nick At Nite, TV Land*, Fox Family (which later became ABC Family), even a local station or two to try and get it. Nothing yet. And I've contacted Viacom/Paramount (which actually owns it), Victory Television, Weiss Global Enterprises and Republic Pictures, asking them to put it in domestic distribution. Only Republic answered me, saying they never owned the rights. But enough is enough. The world isn't going to explode just because someone dared to grant a couple of rerun cycles to a Bob Denver sitcom few people today remember or have even seen.


CBS's promotional ad for the series' 1968 premiere.

(Courtesy of Jon Hobden)


Rufus and Bert stand behind the taxicab used in the first season. A model kit of this vehicle (pictured below), designed by the legendary George Barris, was the only merchandise inspired by the series. More recently, a whole fleet of these taxis--without the Barris customization--were prominently featured in the 2005 big-screen remake of "King Kong". Evidently, they were quite common on New York City streets back in the 1930s.


(Photo courtesy of Philip Hulaj and Frank Sworik)


THE CAST:

Rufus Butterworth: BOB DENVER

Bert Gramus: HERB EDELMAN

Claudia Gramus: JOYCE VAN PATTEN

Andy: RON MASAK

Mr. Bender: JACK PERKINS

Big Tom: ALAN HALE*

Henry Arsdale: JIM BACKUS*

*Yes, two of Bob Denver's old co-stars from the "Gilligan" years put in time on this series as occasionally-seen supporting characters. The episodes would get even more Gilligan-esque by Season Two.

THE PREMISE: Taxicab driver Rufus Butterworth had a childhood friend in Bert Gramus, who had taken Claudia Arsdale for his wife. In an effort to better his life, Bert invested his savings in a diner on an L.A. street corner which he named "Bert's Place". Claudia was skeptical; after all, Rufus had persuaded Bert to join him in an occasional get-rich-quick scheme, none of which ever brought them fame or fortune. Between their tending to cab fares and diner customers, Rufus and Bert would continue this quest--but they would also take the time to try and help out occasional acquaintences who appeared to be down on their luck as well (hence the series' title). In the second season, Rufus quit the cab driving business and joined Bert in running their newly-relocated diner, "Bert & Rufe's At The Beach".

BROADCAST HISTORY:

Debuted September 25, 1968 on the CBS Television Network.

FIRST SEASON EPISODES aired Wednesdays, 8:30-9 PM ET from September 25, 1968 to September 17, 1969.

SECOND SEASON EPISODES aired Fridays, 8-8:30 PM ET from September 26, 1969 to January 23, 1970.

(The airdates indicated above apply to most of the U.S., at least...)



*WANT TO HELP BRING THE GOOD GUYS TO TV LAND OR GET ALL THE EPISODES RELEASED ON DVD?

Click here to read Cleveland Amory's TV Guide® review of the series--and send a petition to TV Land asking them to carry it, as well as read my comments on getting it out on disc.




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