Monday, October 8, 2012

Turn On

TURN ON didn't have a lot of positive buzz when it premiered in February of 1969. Advance press screenings are said to have found it tasteless and mostly unfunny. No one was expecting a long run. The show was essentially a retooling of the original concept of LAUGH-IN, a hostless show consisting of topical one-liners, blackouts and visual gags. LAUGH-IN producer George Schlatter himself was behind it so how could the concept go wrong?

Each episode was to have one or two celebrity guest stars, interacting with the repertory cast of regulars that included Chuck McCann, folk singer/actor Hamilton Camp, future "Christie Love"Teresa Graves (who would go from this to the still on the air LAUGH-IN) and one Debbie Macomber (The bestselling romance author? The age is right but I haven't been able to determine if it's her).

The guest star for the first episode was Tim Conway. Arguably one of the funniest men ever, after McHALE'S NAVY, TV just didn't seem to know what to do with him. Conway has alleged for years that TURN ON was canceled even before the first episode was over.

In fact, according to the Web, it was actually a day or two later and had as much to do with certain major markets opting not to carry the controversial series as it did the political and sex-related humor itself.

With no one anticipating such a sudden failure, several other episodes had been shot. Seen here is the TV GUIDE ad for the second, never aired episode which featured I SPY's Robert Culp and his wife France Nuyen. A later episode would have presented one of the last TV appearances --had it actually appeared--of The Monkees--Mike, Davy and Micky, Peter having already defected.

The Paley Center in New York City supposedly actually has two episodes available for viewing on-site, including the Conway one, but the series--in spite of the fact that its once edgy jokes seem terribly tame as reported on Wikipedia--has never been spotted on television again.

1 comment:

  1. To my understanding, "Turn On" was a 'concept cutting edge comedy show' that took off where "Laff-In" ends. The show was brilliant but perhaps ahead of it's time of what is present day Cutting Edge Comedy.
    Years after "Turn On", I met Comedy Writer and Future Father-In-Law, Donald Stewart Jr., was a seasoned Comedy Staff Writer and veteran of a number of TV Shows, who wrote for "Turn On". To know people like him... you had a better chance of being struck by lightening. He was one of those rare Staff Writers that a Head Comedy Writer looks for, as a member of The Team.
    What went right and what went wrong with "Turn On" is anyone's guess. All I can say is that TV Comedy would never be the same again.
    As far as Donald Stewart Jr., his style of Comedy Writing went on long after.

    Edward Moch, Actor-Perforfer, Writer/Director.