1975: ABC (with 007) and CBS (with Hawaii Five-O) try to knock off NBC’s The Rockford Files

September 1975 featured an interesting faceoff between the three U.S. commercial television networks. Both ABC and CBS wanted to try to knock off NBC’s Friday line-up, which was anchored by the private-eye show The Rockford Files.

ABC’s main programming for the evening was a new ABC Friday Night Movie. Most would be made-for-television movies. But not the debut. That honor would go to the 1971 James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever, which was being shown on television for the first time. ABC, as it typically did, made a number of trims, such as the joke told by comedian/diamond smuggler Shady Tree, that trying to find Willard Whyte “was like trying to find a virgin in a maternity ward.”

Over on CBS, the evening was comprised of a one-hour episode of M*A*S*H, which featured the introduction of Mike Farrell’s B.J. Hunnicut character, and a two-hour Hawaii Five-O story featuring another faceoff between Steve McGarrett and his arch-nemesis, international spy/bad guy Wo Fat.

It was quite an evening for lovers of adventure TV. CBS and ABC were unsuccessful, however. Rockford remained on the air (both it and Five-O had new episodes until 1980).

We’re reminded of this because, the 8th season of Five-O, which includes the Wo Fat episode called “Murder — Eyes Only,” came out this week and is available for sale. The set also features another spy-oriented story called Termionation With Extreme Prejudice,” which features the excellent character actor Dan O’Herlihy, directed by his brother, Michael O’Herlihy, one of the most frequent Five-O directors.

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