20th anniversary of 007’s swan song on ABC

Adapted and expanded from a 2009 post

In the fall of 2002, James Bond returned to his original U.S. television home, Walt Disney Co.’s ABC television network.

It ended up being the end of a 30-year, on-and-off relationship between the fictional spy and ABC.

007’s television debut occurred on Sept. 17, 1972, when Goldfinger was shown by ABC. The network was 007’s television home through the 15th Eon-produced film, The Living Daylights.

After that, things began to change. Licence to Kill appeared on Fox. Time Warner’s TBS scooped up the TV rights to the older films in the early 1990s. Pay-cable networks diminished the aura of 007 movies appearing on broadcast television. GoldenEye debuted on NBC, while CBS snared Tomorrow Never Dies and The World Is Not Enough.

So, it was a bit of a surprise when ABC brought 007 back “home” in the fall of 2002. It was an opportunity for MGM and Eon Productions to promote the upcoming Die Another Day.

However, the media world had changed. ABC canceled the Bond Picture Show after nine Saturday nights in the fall of 2002. And truth be told, things weren’t the same after ABC voiceover king Ernie Anderson passed away in 1997.

Since then, movies — once a staple for broadcast networks — fell out of favor for the most part.

What’s more, the Bond Picture Show included a major trivia moment. Disney/ABC, in its 2002 showing of Diamonds Are Forever, implemented digital underwear for Plenty O’Toole in Diamonds Are Forever.

In the original scene, Plenty O’Toole (Lana Wood) had flesh-colored panties. Disney/ABC gave her a black bra and panties before the character was thrown out of a window, landing in a swimming pool. CLICK HERE to see a 2020 story at the MI6 James Bond website that describes what happened.

Below, here’s a promo that ABC aired for the fifth Bond movie, You Only Live Twice.

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