1954–55 United States network television schedule

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The 1954–55 United States network television schedule began in September of 1954 and ended in the spring of 1955.

Fall 1954 marked a big change for television when ABC announced a network deal with a significant Hollywood producer. ABC had contracted with Walt Disney to produce a new series called Disneyland (as part of the deal, the network provided funding towards the construction of Walt's amusement park of the same name, opening in July 1955). The series was an instant hit, and marked the beginning of the networks allowing Hollywood programs into their schedules. Thus, Disney became the third Hollywood film producer to venture into television production, after Jerry Fairbanks and Hal Roach.

ABC president Leonard Goldenson decided in early 1954 that a television network was not the place for religious programs; as a result, Billy Graham's religious series, Hour of Decision, did not appear on ABC's fall 1954 schedule. Goldenson told Graham that the series was canceled because the poor ratings the series received were hurting the "flow" of ABC's entertainment programs. However, later critics, such as R.D. Heldenfels (1994), reject the stated reason for the cancellation. According to Heldenfels, since Hour of Decision was the last program that ABC aired on Sunday nights (at 10:30), "flow would not have been an issue"; ABC did not air anything in place of the canceled series and gave the slot back to its local affiliates. Heldenfels believes Goldenson "simply felt uncomfortable about organized religion".[1] Another 1953–54 ABC religious series, This Is the Life, also failed to make the 1954–55 ABC schedule.

DuMont's 1954–55 schedule would be the last year the failing television network planned a seven night program schedule, and even this schedule was full of holes. Heldenfels states that the 1954 DuMont schedule "was a checkerboard of programs and empty spaces for [local] stations to fill".[2] DuMont did not bother to schedule anything against ABC's Disneyland, NBC's new series Caesar's Hour, or either of CBS's Arthur Godfrey programs, conceding those slots (and others) to the bigger networks. However, DuMont continued to air Bishop Fulton Sheen's program Life Is Worth Living against NBC's popular The Buick-Berle Show. DuMont's counter-programming strategy, scheduling a religious program against Milton Berle's bawdy show, had met with success in previous years. The rivalry between the programs had caused Berle to joke, "He uses old material, too." Sheen, for his part, once introduced himself as "Uncle Fultie".[3] Still, DuMont's limited success counter-programming a few slots would not be enough to save the network; Heldenfels states that the DuMont network's programs "resemble the grasping of program straws as much or more as they look like a strategic plan."[4] DuMont would cancel Life Is Worth Living in April 1955, along with most of its remaining programs.[5]

New fall series are highlighted in bold.

Each of the 30 highest-rated shows is listed with its rank and rating as determined by Nielsen Media Research.[6]

     Yellow indicates the programs in the top 10 for the season.
     Cyan indicates the programs in the top 20 for the season.
     Magenta indicates the programs in the top 30 for the season.

Sunday[edit]

Network 7:00 PM 7:30 PM 8:00 PM 8:30 PM 9:00 PM 9:30 PM 10:00 PM 10:30 PM
ABC You Asked For It The Pepsi-Cola Playhouse Flight No. 7 The Big Picture 9:00 The Walter Winchell Show / 9:15 The Martha Wright Show Soldier Parade Break the Bank Local
CBS Lassie The Jack Benny Program (7/38.3) / Private Secretary (19/32.2) Toast of the Town (5/39.6) General Electric Theater (17/32.6) Honestly, Celeste! Father Knows Best What's My Line?
NBC People Are Funny Mr. Peepers The Colgate Comedy Hour (27/28.0) The Philco Television Playhouse/Goodyear Television Playhouse The Loretta Young Show (28/27.7) The Hunter
DMN Local Opera Cameos Local Rocky King, Inside Detective Life Begins at Eighty The Music Show Local

Monday[edit]

Network 7:00 PM 7:30 PM 8:00 PM 8:30 PM 9:00 PM 9:30 PM 10:00 PM 10:30 PM
ABC 7:00 Kukla, Fran and Ollie / 7:15 John Daly and the News The Name's the Same Come Closer The Voice of Firestone College Press Conference Boxing from Eastern Parkway
CBS Local 7:30 Douglas Edwards with the News / 7:45 The Perry Como Show The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show (26/29.0) Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts (18/32.5) I Love Lucy (1/49.3) December Bride (10/34.7) Studio One
NBC Local 7:30 The Tony Martin Show / 7:45 Camel News Caravan Caesar's Hour Medic Robert Montgomery Presents Local
DMN 7:00 Captain Video / 7:15 DuMont Evening News Local The Ilona Massey Show Local Boxing From St. Nicholas Arena

Note: On NBC, Producers' Showcase made its debut as a monthly series, airing 8:00–9:30 pm

Tuesday[edit]

Network 7:00 PM 7:30 PM 8:00 PM 8:30 PM 9:00 PM 9:30 PM 10:00 PM 10:30 PM
ABC 7:00 Kukla, Fran and Ollie / 7:15 John Daly and the News Cavalcade of America Local Twenty Questions Make Room for Daddy The United States Steel Hour/The Elgin TV Hour Stop the Music
CBS Fall Local 7:30 Douglas Edwards with the News / 7:45 The Jo Stafford Show The Red Skelton Show The Halls of Ivy Meet Millie Danger Life with Father See It Now
Summer Music 55
NBC Local 7:30 The Dinah Shore Show / 7:45 Plymouth News Caravan The Milton-Berle Show (11/34.6)/The Bob Hope Show/The Martha Raye Show Fireside Theater (20/31.1) Armstrong Circle Theatre Truth or Consequences It's a Great Life
DMN 7:00 Captain Video / 7:15 DuMont Evening News Local Life Is Worth Living Studio 57 One Minute Please Local

Note: Beginning this season, Chrysler's Plymouth division alternated with R.J. Reynolds as sponsor of Camel News Caravan on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The Bob Hope Show and The Martha Raye Show each appeared monthly.

Wednesday[edit]

Network 7:00 PM 7:30 PM 8:00 PM 8:30 PM 9:00 PM 9:30 PM 10:00 PM 10:30 PM
ABC 7:00 Kukla, Fran and Ollie / 7:15 John Daly and the News Disneyland (6/39.1) The Stu Erwin Show Masquerade Party Enterprise Local
CBS Fall Local 7:30 Douglas Edwards with the News / 7:45 The Perry Como Show Arthur Godfrey and His Friends (22/29.8) Strike It Rich I've Got a Secret (13/34.0) 10:00 Pabst Blue Ribbon Bouts (25/29.1) / 10:45 Sports Spot/10–11:00 The Best of Broadway (once a month)
Winter The Millionaire (16/33.0)
NBC Local 7:30 Coke Time with Eddie Fisher / 7:45 Camel News Caravan I Married Joan My Little Margie (29/27.1) Kraft Television Theater This Is Your Life (12/34.5) Big Town
DMN 7:00 Captain Video / 7:15 DuMont Evening News Local Concert Tonight
(Chicago Symphony)
Down You Go Local

Thursday[edit]

Network 7:00 PM 7:30 PM 8:00 PM 8:30 PM 9:00 PM 9:30 PM 10:00 PM 10:30 PM
ABC 7:00 Kukla, Fran and Ollie / 7:15 John Daly and the News The Lone Ranger The Mail Story Treasury Men in Action So You Want to Lead a Band Kraft Television Theater Local
CBS Local 7:30 Douglas Edwards with the News / 7:45 The Jane Froman Show The Ray Milland Show* Climax!/Shower of Stars (once a month) Four Star Playhouse The Public Defender Name That Tune
NBC Local 7:30 The Dinah Shore Show / 7:45 Plymouth News Caravan You Bet Your Life (4/41.0) Justice Dragnet (3/42.1) Ford Theater (9/34.9) Lux Video Theatre
DMN 7:00 Captain Video / 7:15 DuMont Evening News Local They Stand Accused What's the Story Local

* formerly Meet Mr. McNutley

Friday[edit]

Network 7:00 PM 7:30 PM 8:00 PM 8:30 PM 9:00 PM 9:30 PM 10:00 PM 10:30 PM
ABC 7:00 Kukla, Fran and Ollie / 7:15 John Daly and the News The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin (23/29.5) The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet The Ray Bolger Show* Dollar a Second The Vise Local
CBS Local 7:30 Douglas Edwards with the News / 7:45 The Perry Como Show Mama Topper (24/29.4) Schlitz Playhouse of Stars Our Miss Brooks The Lineup Person to Person
NBC Local 7:30 Coke Time with Eddie Fisher / 7:45 Camel News Caravan The Red Buttons Show/The Jack Carson Show (once a month) The Life of Riley (21/30.9) The Big Story Dear Phoebe 10:00 Gillette Cavalcade of Sports / 10:45 The Greatest Moments in Sports
DMN 7:00 Captain Video / 7:15 DuMont Evening News Local The Stranger Local Chance of a Lifetime Time Will Tell

* formerly Where's Raymond?

Saturday[edit]

Network 7:00 PM 7:30 PM 8:00 PM 8:30 PM 9:00 PM 9:30 PM 10:00 PM 10:30 PM
ABC Local Compass The Dotty Mack Show 9:00 The Saturday Night Fights / 9:45 Fight Talk The Stork Club Local
CBS The Gene Autry Show Beat the Clock The Jackie Gleason Show (2/42.4) Two for the Money (14/33.9) My Favorite Husband That's My Boy Willy
NBC Fall Watch Mr. Wizard Ethel and Albert The Mickey Rooney Show: Hey, Mulligan Place the Face The Imogene Coca Show Texaco Star Theater: The Jimmy Durante Show/The Donald O'Connor Show The George Gobel Show (8/35.2) Your Hit Parade (15/33.6)
Summer Musical Chairs
DMN Local National Football League Professional Football

Note: On NBC, the Saturday edition of Max Liebman Presents debuted as a monthly series, airing 9:00–10:30 pm. On ABC, Ozark Jubilee premiered in January from 9:00–10:00 pm

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Heldenfels, R. D. (1994). Television's Greatest Year: 1954. New York: Continuum, pg 79–80. ISBN 0-8264-0675-0.
  2. ^ Heldenfels, pg 24.
  3. ^ Pride of Peoria. AmericanCatholic.com
  4. ^ Heldenfels, pg 194.
  5. ^ Brooks, Tim & Marsh, Earle (1984). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows (3rd ed.). New York: Ballantine. ISBN 0-345-31864-1.
  6. ^ Highest-rated series is based on the annual top-rated programs list compiled by Nielsen Media Research and reported in: Brooks, Tim & Marsh, Earle (2007). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows (9th ed.). New York: Ballantine. ISBN 978-0-345-49773-4.

References[edit]

  • McNeil, Alex. (1996). Total Television: The Comprehensive Guide to Programming from 1948 to the Present. Fourth edition. New York: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-024916-8.
  • Brooks, Tim & Marsh, Earle (1984). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows (3rd ed.). New York: Ballantine. ISBN 0-345-31864-1.
  • Heldenfels, R(ichard) D. (1994). Television's Greatest Year: 1954. New York: Continuum. ISBN 0-8264-0675-0.