Monday, September 14, 2009
It was 40 years ago tonight that The Bold Ones, a “wheel series” focusing on several distinctive career fields, debuted on NBC-TV.
That series originally comprised three segments: The New Doctors, a medical drama starring E.G. Marshall (formerly of The Defenders), David Hartman (later of Good Morning, America), and John Saxon; The Protectors, with Leslie Nielsen as the “deputy chief of police in a volatile California city,” who often clashes with “the city’s idealistic, liberal black DA, played by Hari Rhodes”; and The Lawyers, featuring the grandfatherly singer-actor Burl Ives as an attorney who brings into his practice his two younger brothers, played by Joseph Campanella (formerly of Mannix) and James Farentino (later to star in the short-lived NBC Wednesday Mystery Movie series Cool Million). After just one season, though, The Protectors was cancelled to make way for The Senator, starring Hal Holbrook as a highly principled and idealistic member of the U.S. Senate who regularly puts his reputation on the line to aid constituents and uphold what’s right with America--behavior that seems positively quaint nowadays.
The Bold Ones started out being broadcast on Sunday nights at 10 p.m. But in its fourth and last season (1972-1973), that hour-long series moved to Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. The New Doctors lasted the longest of the segments, while The New Lawyers ended after three seasons. Only six episodes were made of The Protectors; there were eight episodes of The Senator, which--despite its abbreviated term--won five Emmy Awards, one going to Holbrook himself. The Bold Ones was an expensive series to produce, according to TVparty!, “costing an unheard of $200,000 an episode.” It also attracted some significant talent, aside from the actors themselves. Roy Huggins (Maverick, The Rockford Files) was behind The Lawyers, while Steven Bochco (NYPD Blue, Hill Street Blues) numbered among the creators of The New Doctors. Actor Raymond Burr served as a production executive on The New Doctors, and there was a two-part 1972 crossover episode with Ironside (“Five Days in the Death of Sergeant Brown”) that found ex-Chief of Detectives Robert T. Ironside’s by-the-book assistant being brought down by a sniper’s bullet in Los Angeles, and possibly paralyzed.
I don’t remember watching much of The Bold Ones, though I’m sure I did see a few episodes at my grandfather’s house when I was a boy. Given the series’ acclaim and its roster of prominent guest stars (from Howard Duff and Richard Dreyfuss to Carol Lynley, Jack Klugman, Karen Valentine, Will Geer, and William Shatner), you would expect it to wind up for sale in DVD format. But not yet. For now, you’ll just have to find it on iOffer or another of the Web’s many bootleg sales sites.
To celebrate this 40th anniversary of the series’ debut, we’re giving you not one, but two opening title sequences from The Bold Ones. Atop this post is the more familiar version, taken from Season 2. Below you’ll find the clunkier original, featuring The Protectors.
READ MORE: “Episode Guide: The Protectors,” by Marty McKee (Johnny LaRue’s Crane Shot); “How The New People Impacted The Bold Ones” and “More on the History of The Bold Ones” (Television Obscurities).