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Wednesday, December 27, 2023

F TROOP in the Nielsen Ratings: PART ONE - 1965-66 SEASON

Thanks to the ever resourceful Ratings Ryan I now have access to the weekly Nielsen ratings from 1965-66 TV Season.  The weekly pocketbooks, all 111 pages of them, can be accessed at this link.

Incidentally, more about Ratings Ryan here.  We should all be grateful for his work, I know I am.  And I think we should all support him too--please see more on how to at that link, and join me in supporting his efforts if you can.

For my prior observations on F TROOP's performance in the Nielsens, please check out this post from ten years ago.  With more time comes more information, so away we go:

Now I have access to the full season.  Ho ho ho!  You can tell that I am going to get multiple posts out of this new bag of goodies, so let's just call this part one and get on with it.  My initial findings are enough for me to dispute the 40th place ranking F TROOP has been assigned for the season on other online sources.

The Thursday PEYTON PLACE (II) is listed in 38th place for 1965-66 in this TELEVISION MAGAZINE listing from August 1967 with a 33.4 share.  However, running the numbers for all 29 airings of each show (each preempted once) I came up with a 20.44 average rating for F TROOP and 20.23 for the Thursday PEYTON.  

The Monday PEYTON (III) on this year end list comes in at 39th, but remember, at the start of the 1965-66 season this installment aired on Fridays until changing places with FARMER'S DAUGHTER in November.  PEYTON 3 was at 17.5 as of January 2nd per TELEVISION (March 1966 issue) but totaled 174.1 in nine Monday showings for a 19.4 for that night. The Friday airings for the first seven weeks of the season were apparently the only ones considered for that midseason ranking.  Might be splitting hairs, but if it isn't considered the same show, then why isn't there a PEYTON IV on that list for the Monday only showings, especially since they numbered more than the Friday premieres by midseason? 

Why this is important: the season ending numbers taking Mondays only into account gives 21 airings on that day, 429.9 total rating for an average rating of 20.47.  This would put it marginally ahead of F TROOP's 20.44 but remember, those Friday airings are supposed to be included for this program since it technically is the same PEYTON, listed above as having been moved at mid-season.  Those 7 Fridays totaled 120.8 so PEYTON III totaled 550.7 for 28 showings for the entire season or a rating of 19.7.  Incidentally, that 120.8 calculates to a rounded up 17.3, not 17.5.  And including all 15 rated Monday/Friday episodes as of January 2 gives a total of 274.9 even for a midseason 18.3 for PIII.  Eight Mondays at mid-season totaled 19.3--nice second half on that night.

PEYTON PLACE had a second half surge on all three nights and did yeoman's work for third place ABC with competitive showings on three different nights.  Great job, but that doesn't change numbers that show for the entire season, F TROOP outrated PEYTONs I (19.5) II (20.2) and III (19.7) with its 20.4That is, if the Friday/Monday showings are combined as one as they should be.  Since there isn't a PEYTON IV on either list, pretty clear that both are considered one and the same.

I also calculated the Tuesday only PEYTONs just to be sure on that, since some confusion might have been created due to the Friday/Monday switch 7 weeks in.  I came up with 278.8 for 15 Tuesday showings as of Dec. 28th so the 19.1 in TELEVISION seems off; I had 18.6.  By season's end, Tuesday's only, it was 584.1 in 30 airings (no pre-emptions for PEYTON on Tuesday) for a 19.5.  I think it is possible there was some midseason and postseason confusion created by the show's move.  As noted above PEYTON III is shown at 17.5 on the mid-season list, so it appears that the Friday showings only are listed (and calculated wrong to boot).  

Did PEYTON III become PEYTON I accidentally with the switch?  Since the Tuesday midseason numbers also appear off, that's possible.  TELEVISION also has Thursday and Monday PEYTONs as "moved in season", but that's not true, the Thursday edition aired on that day exclusively all 29 weeks.  PEYTON I (Tuesday) comes to 19.5, which fits with the August 1967 ranking of 46th.  PEYTON II (Thursday) comes to 20.2, which likely is 39th but isn't ahead of F TROOP.  19.7 would be the actual rating for III (Friday/Monday) so perhaps that August 1967 TELEVISION ranking of PIII is missing the Friday showings.  But...they still count!

Anyway, leapfrogging these two PEYTONs brings our boys to 38th place.  Listed at 37th place at season's end was SHENANDOAH, at 20.3 at midseason (36th), with 14 airings totaling 285.1.  Having never seen it, I can't understand why it didn't return: the second half total was 264.7 in 13 shows, meaning that despite powerful competition (see more below) it was competing well with a 20.36 rating.

However....SHENANDOAH is also behind F TROOP for the season's ratings after running the full year's numbers--20.44 to 20.36.  We do get a tie with rounding, but unless I am missing something, this puts the TROOP in 37th place at worst now.  Looking further ahead, FUGITIVE (34th) totaled 561.8 for 27 shows, or 20.8, and COMBAT (listed 36th) ended the season with a 20.6 average in my calculations.   BUT...LOST IN SPACE, shown in 35th place above, totaled a 547.0 rating in 27 airings..which comes out to a 20.3!  That changes things up further.  My findings, assuming that I don't track down other discrepancies later:


35. COMBAT 20.6

36. F TROOP 20.44 (20.4)

37. SHENANDOAH 20.36 (20.4)

38. LOST IN SPACE 20.3



Without running more numbers for now, it appears that F TROOP actually finished the 1965-66 season in 36th place, NOT 40th as has been reported elsewhere.   It also appears to be ABC's 7th highest rated show of the season, behind the two BATMANs, BEWITCHED, LAWRENCE WELK, FUGITIVE and COMBAT.  I, for one, will be adjusting my prior posts on the topic accordingly. 

F TROOP had a 21.1 rating per TELEVISION March 1966 at mid-season, though I came up with 20.9 through 1/2/66 (21.1 was correct before the 12/28/65 episode).  Nevertheless with a 20.9/32.9 share at mid-season there was a slight second half dip.  For the full season I came up with a 31.3 share instead of the 31.0 indicated by TELEVISION (908.5 total for 29 airings).  The January-April airings averaged a 19.9 rating/29.7 share.  The show was pre-empted once by a Sammy Davis Jr. special on 2/1/66 which rated 10 percent below the F TROOP second half average with a 17.9.    

Breaking it down, from episode 1 to episode 30 (4 more remained after April 12, the last airing of the 30 week season which ran from September 13, 1965 to April 17, 1966 with one "black week").  The 5 highest rated F TROOP episodes of the first season are noted (1 to 5):

Scourge of the West 9/14/65 22.0 rating/35.2 share (5-tie)

Don't Look Now, One of Our Cannon Is Missing 9/21/65 24.5 rating/37.6 share (1)

The Phantom Major 9/28/65 21.5 rating/33.6 share

Corporal Agarn's Farewell to the Troops 10/5/65 20.1 rating/32.6 share

The Return of Bald Eagle 10/12/65 22.5 rating/35.2 share (3)

Dirge for the Scourge 10/19/65 21.5 rating/32.7 share

The Girl From Philadelphia 10/26/65 20.5 rating/32.1 share

Old Ironpants 11/2/65 23.0 rating/36.2 share (2)

Me Heap Big Injun 11/9/65 15.6 rating/27.1 share

She's Just a Build in a Girdled Cage 11/16/65 22.4 rating/34.4 share (4)

A Gift From the Chief 11/23/65  19.7 rating/31.0 share

Honest Injun 11/30/65 20.6 rating/31.5 share

O'Rourke vs. O'Reilly 12/7/65 21.1 rating/32.3 share

The 86 Proof Spring 12/14/65 20.6 rating/32.6 share

Here Comes the Tribe 12/21/65 (Nielsen "black week" no rating)

Iron Horse Go Home 12/28/65 18.5 rating/29.3 share

Our Hero, What's His Name? 1/4/66 20.0 rating/30.1 share

Wrongo Starr and the Lady in Black 1/11/66 20.7 rating/29.8 share

El Diablo 1/18/66 22.0 rating/34.1 share (5-tie)

Go For Broke 1/25/66 20.3 rating/30.9 share

The New I.G. 2/8/66 18.4 rating/27.3 share

Spy, Counterspy, Counter Counterspy 2/15/66 20.7 rating/ 30.1 share

The Courtship of Wrangler Jane 2/22/66 20.5 rating/30.0 share

Play, Gypsy, Play 3/1/66 18.7 rating/26.6 share

Reunion for O'Rourke 3/8/66 21.4 rating/31.6 share

Captain Parmenter, One Man Army 3/15/66 19.6 rating/29.1 share

Don't Ever Speak to Me Again 3/22/66 18.5 rating/27.5 share

Too Many Cooks Spoil the Troop 3/29/66 19.8 rating/28.5 share

Indian Fever 4/5/66 20.3 rating/31.7 share

Johnny Eagle Eye 4/12/66 18.0 rating/27.8 share

Some notes:

Both Me Heap Big Injun and Johnny Eagle Eye had to square off with Elvis Presley, as G.I. BLUES was the NBC Tuesday Night Movie 11/9/65 and was popular enough that night to repeat 5 months later.  It posted a 21.3 when rerun (19.2 in the half hour against F TROOP) which was even higher than its 20.4 overall on 11/9/65.  

I'll go into more detail about the NBC Tuesday Movies vs. F TROOP in a later post, but Fort Courage prevailed in 26 out of 29 contests versus the movies during 1965-66.  Play, Gypsy, Play sustained the other loss on 3/1/66 (to HOME FROM THE HILL, which started an hour earlier than usual at 8 PM ET).  Me Heap Big Injun was F TROOP's only rating below 18 all season; yeah, the Corporal was no match for The King that night. 

The New I.G. might have been hurt a little by the pre-emption the previous week with that 18.4, second lowest rated show up to that point (too bad, it's hilarious).  

As you might expect, F TROOP's only victory against RED SKELTON was on 9/21/65, when Don't Look Now, One of Our Cannon Is Missing outpointed the CBS star 24.5 to 23.0.    

The total 20.4 rating, 31.3 share I came up for the full season is higher than what has been reported elsewhere for both, as is the 36th place ranking.  The total number of shows rated in 1965-66 was 109 (it was 99 at mid-season; ten mid-season replacements) but it appears that F TROOP had higher ratings than every cancelled show during its freshman season except 32nd place BRANDED (which lost a ton of viewers between DISNEY and top-rated BONANZA on Sundays).  It was ahead of at least 17 renewals that I can find for that season and at least 16 renewals the following year--but more on that in future posts of course.

Looking at SHENANDOAH for a second: I can't understand why it wasn't renewed.  ANDY GRIFFITH and ANDY WILLIAMS arguably provided even stiffer competition than F TROOP faced. Still, Robert Horton's series still managed a 20.4 rating (rounding up) and 37th place, gaining on its JESSE JAMES lead-in, finishing the season without a second half dropoff (exactly 20.36 rating in both halves of the season!) and improving a bit on 1964-65's NO TIME FOR SERGEANTS (40th that year and the highest rated cancellation).  Might deserve its own post sometime.

And as you might have guessed by the 34th to 40th listing above, I checked accuracy on the spots listed directly below F TROOP by TELEVISION.  Listed # 41 was CANDID CAMERA, Allen Funt's classic that aired all 30 Sundays totaling ratings of 599.4.  Which comes out to a weekly average of 19.98 (20.0 rounded up) for the season.  So this puts it below one PEYTON PLACE shown above but ahead of the Friday/Monday airing--if we include the first seven Fridays.  I'm inclined to believe PEYTON III was listed several spots higher than it should have been.  CAMERA would be below SHENANDOAH as well but this should have it in 40th place, not 41st.  And therefore it took a 20.0 just to make the top 40 in 1966!  I did not find any show listed below 41st with a rating of 20; TO TELL THE TRUTH averaged 19.4 in 29 airings, McHALE'S NAVY 19.8 in 29 (so my guess is that it should be a spot or two higher).

In Part Two I plan to take a deeper dive into the 1965-66 numbers for F TROOP and its competition, as well as the time slot it will inherit in 1966-67.  Stay tuned!


Walter S. said...

Hal, man oh man you did some statistical homework here thanks to Ratings Ryan. I really enjoyed reading your informative write-up on F TROOP. I think F TROOP deserved another season, but we've never been able to outguess tv network executive suits, have we?

Regarding the premature cancellation of A MAN CALLED SHENANDOAH(1965-66). I've never read anywhere the reasoning for cancelling, in my opinion, a really good Western TV series. The show had decent Nielsen ratings and had indications of being renewed, but on the last afternoon of the deadline for renewal or cancellation, it was cancelled. Robert Horton star and 25% owner of the show was surprised as well as creator/writer E. Jack Neuman and everyone else. Alan Courtney, who was vice-president and executive in charge of production for MGM Television couldn't believe it. In an interview with Boyd Magers of WESTERN CLIPPINGS, Robert Horton said, "We did our best and they didn't cancel our show until the last possible afternoon. Alan Courtney was in shock." According to Horton Alan Courtney said, "I don't believe it, we've been canceled, I don't understand because the show was beginning to pick up with a different attitude about the lead character." Horton said that he agreed with Courtney and that, "But the bottom line was, that we were cancelled, and I learned on Friday about 4 in the afternoon. Because of the sudden cancellation there was never any discussion about a conclusion to the series." Horton added that, "Shenandoah was simply doomed to wander. In an interview with Harry Harris of THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER newspaper, which took place in 1966, according to Harris, Horton wryly said, "I dream that when Shenandoah's identity is revealed, he turns out to be none other than Flint McCullough(Robert Horton's character from WAGON TRAIN)!"

I don't understand why A MAN CALLED SHENANDOAH was cancelled, either. When it originally aired, it was one of my favorite TV shows. I didn't get a chance to view it again until GetTV aired it as part of their Saturday "Western Block" in 2016. I think it was a well scripted, directed, and acted TV series that deserved a second season in a different time slot. THE BIG VALLEY(1965-69) another Western on the ABC Network was ranked 57th in the Nielsen ratings for the 1965-66 season and was renewed and switched from Wednesday night to Monday night at 9:00(Central Time). Why was THE BIG VALLEY renewed instead of A MAN CALLED SHENANDOAH? THE BIG VALLEY placed 45th in the Nielsen ratings for the 1966-67 season and was renewed for a third season. THE FELONY SQUAD(1966-69) replaced A MAN CALLED SHENANDOAH in the Monday at 8:00(CT) slot and came in 47th in the Nielsen ratings and was renewed for a second season. This is a head scratcher, isn't it?

Thanks for triggering my memory and I look forward to PART II.

Hal said...

Thanks for the thoughts, Walter, and for reading! The whole SHENANDOAH saga is baffling to me. I read a March 1966 newspaper article referring to its "slipping sharply on the Nielsen chart" but as you see above, that isn't borne out by the numbers at all. I don't know what ABC was expecting against ANDY GRIFFITH but I'd think a 31 share would suffice.

I'm a big fan of Boyd Magers' site, thanks for the headsup. He's interviewed several of my favorites, including Lisa Gaye and Adele Mara among others. GetTV has been fantastic on the weekends for us Western fans.

Walter S. said...

Hal, thanks for responding to my pondering. Keep on giving us your very informative write-ups on F TROOP.

I think and this is strictly conjecture on my part that A MAN CALLED SHENANDOAH may have been canceled because of behind-the-scenes Hollywood television politics.

Yes, Boyd Magers should be highly commended for all those wonderfully informative interviews. http://www.westernclippings.com/

Kudos to GetTV for bringing back Western TV shows that I hadn't viewed in decades or never viewed.