The CBS "rural purge" of 1971

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by PaulKTF, Oct 12, 2016.

  1. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Forum Resident Thread Starter

    In 1971 CBS canceled all of their rural shows in what was called the "rural purge". Most of these are shows that I really like watching in re-runs.

    9 iconic shows canceled due to the rural purge »

    What a boneheaded decision on their part! These were all great shows (the ones I've seen, anyway) that could have surely gone on for years. They were all very popular with audiences.

  2. Shawn

    Shawn Forum Resident

    If only Green Acres went back to New York it would have been fine.

  3. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Oh man, you just know someone on the CBS board made that very suggestion! :)
    MikaelaArsenault likes this.
  4. dlokazip

    dlokazip Forum Transient

    Austin, TX, USA
    Some of those shows needed to be put out of their misery, but there was no reason to cancel The Beverly Hillbillies.

    Duck Dynasty is clearly revenge for that cancellation.
    Dudley Morris, mrdon, junk and 5 others like this.
  5. Anthology123

    Anthology123 Forum Resident

    Would the Doris Day show also apply? Of course, they did not cancel that show yet, they just re-tooled it to remove the rural aspect of it.
    MikaelaArsenault likes this.
  6. Chris from Chicago

    Chris from Chicago Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes

    I hate to admit this, but of all the shows mentioned in that article, All in the Family and the Mary Tyler Moore show are the only ones I remember fondly.
    ianuaditis and MikaelaArsenault like this.
  7. Scopitone

    Scopitone Inveterate Skipper

    Denver, CO
    This fact is the most amazing to me. Only 2 years?

    I remember its being on almost constantly when I was a kid in the 70's and early 80's.
  8. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Some shows don't last long on a network but last for years in syndication. Mama's Family lasted two years on NBC, and another three with new episodes airing in syndication.
    MikaelaArsenault and Scopitone like this.
  9. JozefK

    JozefK Forum Resident

    Most of the sitcoms cancelled in the Rural Purge had pretty much run their course, with the possible exception of Hogan's Heroes. The real casualty was the TV western -- IIRC The Virginian/Men From Shiloh finished the season in the top 20, yet NBC still axed it. Can you imagine that happening today?

    There was even a song about the Rural Purge:

  10. OldSoul

    OldSoul Well, I'm a lonesome schoolboy...

    Vallejo, CA
    First run syndication, to be clear.
  11. clhboa

    clhboa Forum Resident

    NBC also canned "The High Chaparral" in '71.
    MikaelaArsenault likes this.
  12. Commander Lucius Emery

    Commander Lucius Emery Forum Resident

    And the children and all mention that she was married once. Day didn't want to do the show but her husband committed her, he died and an associate stole from Day necessitating lawsuits and a need to have money to pay lawyers.

    A lot of these shows had pretty much run their course along with variety shows like Ed Sullivan and Lawrence Welk (although aided by prime time access rules by the FCC Mr Wunnerful, Wunnerful had two more decades of providing the sweetest music this side of heaven.
    MikaelaArsenault likes this.
  13. PlushFieldHarpy

    PlushFieldHarpy Forum Resident

    Some interesting historical context. Little House On the Prairie and The Waltons would go on to last into the 80s though.
  14. JozefK

    JozefK Forum Resident

    That was Guy Lombardo
  15. davidarob

    davidarob Well-Known Member

    Portland, OR USA
    I always was led to believe, rightly or wrongly (to paraphrase Peter Cook, "possibly both"), that the rural purge was all about CBS realizing that although these shows were popular they didn't fit the geographical and age range that advertisers were willing to pay top whack for, so these shows were zapped in favor of "All in the Family" urban-type shows that were doing well.

    On a slightly unrelated topic, was Jack Benny really kicked off CBS with their hatchet man, James Aubrey, telling him "you're through old man." If so, what a bastard!
  16. applebonkerz

    applebonkerz Forum Resident

    I watched all of those shows at the time in their prime, except Lassie, Gunsmoke, and Bonanza which I tried, but never liked. Even the ones I loved the most, like The Beverly Hillbillies, I have to admit by 1971 they had long passed their best days. I had either already grown tired (B.H., Hogan), or stopped watching altogether (Acres, Junction, Mayberry) by the time the purge happened. No loss by then really IMO. Hee Haw I continued with for several years just to enjoy Roy Clark's picking, along with Grandpa Jones and Stringbean. It was great to have access to real bluegrass once Flatt & Scruggs weren't being featured anymore via Beverly Hillbillies. :cool:
  17. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    That is precisely the reason. Networks had figured out that demographics were more important than total audience. It wasn't about how many people were watching; it was how old the people were watching, how much money they made, and how well-educated they were.

    Wikipedia lists quite a few shows that were cancelled partly because of an aging audience or because of a mostly-rural audience:

    The Original Amateur Hour (CBS, 1959–1970)
    Petticoat Junction (CBS, 1963–1970)
    The Red Skelton Show (NBC, 1970–71)
    The Jackie Gleason Show (CBS 1952-1970)
    Green Acres (CBS, 1965–1971)
    The Beverly Hillbillies (CBS, 1962–1971)
    Mayberry R.F.D. (CBS, 1968–1971)
    Hee-Haw (CBS, 1969–1971)
    Lassie (CBS, 1954–1971)
    Family Affair (CBS, 1966–1971)
    Hogan's Heroes (CBS, 1965–1971)
    The Jim Nabors Hour (CBS, 1969–1971)[1]
    The Lawrence Welk Show (ABC 1955–1971)
    The Johnny Cash Show (ABC, 1969–1971)
    The Virginian (NBC, 9 seasons)
    The Andy Williams Show (NBC, 10 seasons)
    Wild Kingdom (NBC, 1963–1971)
    Make Room for Granddaddy
    The New Andy Griffith Show (CBS, 1970–1971)
    The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour (CBS, 1969–1972)
    My Three Sons (CBS, 1965–72)
    Bonanza (NBC, 1959–1973)
    The Doris Day Show (CBS, 1968–1973)
    Here's Lucy (CBS, 1968–74)
    Gunsmoke (CBS, 1955–1975)

    Rural purge - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia »

    I would argue that all of those shows had already had long lives on TV, and a few of them went on to limited success in syndication. But a lot of them were just over and done. It's particularly interesting to me how Westerns ended very quickly in the late 1960s/early 1970s, after there had been at least 10-15 Western TV shows every year from the mid-1950s on.

    The best line was from comic actor Pat Buttram of Green Acres: "1971 the year CBS canceled everything with a tree — including Lassie."
  18. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host

    "You're through."
  19. t-man 54

    t-man 54 Forum Resident

    Yes. That is correct. He was not an old man since he was only 39 years old : )
  20. misterdecibel

    misterdecibel Bulbous Also Tapered

    By 1971 all those shows were spent. Tired. Sharks long since jumped.
  21. ky658

    ky658 Forum Resident

    Miami, Florida
    Too bad there isn't a "Reality Purge" in the works, this has been going on for far too long...
  22. signothetimes53

    signothetimes53 Forum Resident

    Burlington VT USA
    Oh, I disagree.

    Have you ever actually watched any of those later-years episodes? They are truly awful, painful, pathetic efforts at comedy. And I loved the early years of Beverly Hillbillies....
  23. Glad to see most of them retired at the time. Not the golden age by any stretch.
  24. Spaghettiows

    Spaghettiows Forum Resident

    Silver Creek, NY
    Not rural, but I kind of wish that I Dream of Jeannie had lasted a few more years into the 70s so they could have revealed Barbara Eden's navel.
  25. The Panda

    The Panda Forum Mutant

    Marple, PA, USA
    this. Man, you can tell those later episodes, and I don't mean by color. Things seem so forced and you'd swear stuff was recycled scripts. And I also watched the program a lot.
    Gumboo and signothetimes53 like this.

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