ABC (ended 1964)





Channing Fan Reviews (1)

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  • Little known, but apparently better than most.

    1963 was apparently an excellent year for serious TV drama. Everybody remembers The Defenders. There was also East Side West Side, Ben Casey, that remarkable anthology The Richard Boone Show, and a couple of other shows that have left fainter footprints in the sands of TV history. This was one of them. TV dramas about college life are few and far between. In fact, I can only think of two examples; The Paper Chase, which lasted three seasons, and which some of us still remember, and Channing, which lasted 26 episodes in 1963 and 1964 on ABC and which has apparently been sent down the memory hole. Finances permitting, I may order a couple of episodes of Channing from a supplier in England, and that will enable me to make an informed judgement. Until then, I can only rely on second hand knowledge, and the little I know indicates that it was better- and more interesting- than its reputation. Bob Rafelson and Jack Laird created this show as yet another early sixties "prime -time parable of the new frontier". It started out as an 1962 episode of a nother forgotten show, Frec Astaires anthology series on ABC. The original episode was entitled " Of That Time, of That Place" and was based on a short story by the great critic and occasional Fiction writer, Lionel Trilling. ( Which, it must be said, is a pretty high-brow source for a TV series.) The prime time parables usually followed a Kennedy like young teacher, doctor or psychiatrist who copes with the social challenges of the nineteen sixties with the help of a crusty, but wise older mentor. The template for such shows is , of course, Ben Casey. This show followed Casey at 1000 on ABC in 1963, however, it wa hardly as big a hit. Jason ( The Guns of Will Sonnett ) Evers played Professor Joseph Howe, Korean war veteran and aspiring novelist, who gets a job teaching English at Channing University. He finds his mentor in the person of Dean Fred Baker, played by that durable character with the wonderful voice, Henry Jones. Together, they were involved in the often surprsingly dramatic adventures of early sixties college life. The show attracted a remarkable array of guest stars. Some of them were already established at the time: Agnes Moorehead, Telly Savalas, James Earl Jones, Leslie Nielsen, Robert Lansing, Leo G. Carroll, etc. Thee show also saw the debuts or (second or third Tv appearances of a lot of folks who later became famous: James Caan, Keir Dullea, Joey Heatherton, Michael J. Pollard, Ivan Dixon, Bob Crane, Dwan Wells, Yvonne Craig, and Tim Conway, among others. One episode, "A Window on The War" was centered arounnd an embittered Vietnam Vet ( in 1963!) who craves vengeance against a pro-war proferssor. Another episode, "A Bang and A Whimper", centered on an visitor to Channing, alcoholic, womanizing Irish poet Paddy Riordan, ( Shades of Brendan Behan.) played by Robert ( The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes.)Stephens who trifles with the affections of a married student, Susan ( Imitation of Life) Kohner. Apparently, there were other extremly interesting episodes as well. Unfortunatly, Channing was apparently a little too high brow for the typical TV viewer. It finished third in its time slot behind The Danny Kaye Show and another social problem drama( This one about psychiatrists), The Eleventh Hour. It left the airwaves when the 1963 season ended. Later, Rafelson created a somewhat more succesful TV show about the problems of young people, The Monkess, while Laird created a mildly famous Telly Savalas vehicle, Kojak