Adventures on Prime Time: The Television Programs of Stephen J. Cannell

By Robert J. Thompson | Go to book overview
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Stephen J. Cannell in "Roundtable: Stephen J. Cannell", View 6, no. 4 ( March 1985): 49.
Steve Oney, "That Championship Season", California Magazine, February 1984, p. 45.
Mark Christensen and Cameron Stauth, The Sweeps ( New York: William Morrow, 1984), p. 98.
Stephen J. Cannell, interview with the author, Evanston, IL, and Hollywood, CA, June 24, 1986.
Quoted in Merrill Shindler, "Okay, Cannell, Come Clean!!" Los Angeles Magazine, October 1983, pp. 220, 386.
Interview with the author.
Among other interviews, Cannell made these points in the Shindler interview ( "Okay, Cannell") and in the interview with the author.
Shindler, "Okay, Cannell," p. 384, 386.
Interview with the author.
"On the Job with... Stephen J. Cannell", Continental Magazine, September 1983, p. 40.
This is a technique used by many hyphenates who no longer can write as much as they once did. They create the show and/or supervise the establishment of its formula. Glen Larson and Aaron Spelling are among the several examples.
The theme of boys-ride-into-town/boys-terrorize-town/boys-are-forced-to-leave-town- by-angry-citizens is a favorite for television action-adventures in general, not just those done by Cannell. Among other series that have used this theme are The Fall Guy, Knight Rider, and The Incredible Hulk.
Interestingly enough, in the same season ( 1982-83) that Stephen J. Cannell Productions did "Black Day at Bad Rock," Glen Larson Productions did a motorcycle gang episode of Knight Rider entitled "Good Day at White Rock."
"On the Job," p. 40.
Rose Goldsen, The Show and Tell Machine ( New York: Dial Press, 1975), pp. 388- 89. Her quote is from: FCC, "Report and Order with Respect to Competition and Responsibility in Network Television Broadcasting," Docket 12782, May 4, 1970, p. 9.
A possible element in the recombinant formula for The Rousters was The Beverly Hillbillies. While the theme of culture clash, which was so crucial to that earlier show, was not present in The Rousters, the family resemblances were striking. Wyatt Earp III ( Chad Everett), the great-grandson of the Western legend, was the family patriarch. While he was younger than Jed Clampett, he, like Jed, was the most "normal" of the family (except for his teenage son who, like Ralph Hinkley's son in The Greatest American Hero, never served much of a function except as half of the obligatory father/son pairing that so many Cannell shows had). Maxine Stuart did a great Granny Clampett imitation as she played the part of Wyatt's "Ma," Amanda. She was the one who was always getting the family involved in her bounty-hunting schemes, and when she was not hanging out by the Post Office bulletin boards, she could spout caustic home-grown aphorisms in the best Granny tradition. Her other son, Evan (played by Jim Varney, who would find fame in TV commercials a few years later as the bothersome Every


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