N.E.T. PLAYHOUSE (1966-1972) – This anthology series from National Educational Television presented dramas, comedies, fantasies and musicals. Many were produced by N.E.T. themselves, others were produced overseas and a very few were movies theatrically released before being shown on N.E.T. Playhouse.
Below is a representative example of the program’s offerings, which could run from one hour to three and a half hours. An incredible range of productions were broadcast during the six-year run of this excellent program. I will examine N.E.T. Playhouse one year at a time.
TEN BLOCKS ON THE CAMINO REAL (October 7th) – Martin Sheen starred as the downtrodden ex-boxer Kilroy in this 90-minute episode adapted from the play by Tennessee Williams. Janet Margolin, Albert Dekker and Lotte Lenya also starred.
THE JOURNEY OF THE FIFTH HORSE (October 14th) – This 2 1/2 hour production was based on the play by Ronald Ribman which was itself based on Ivan Turgenev’s novel The Diary of a Superfluous Man. Dustin Hoffman starred as Zoditch, with a supporting cast which included Michael Tolan, Charlotte Rae, Susan Anspach and Susan Lipton.
THE STAR WAGON (October 21st) – Another 2 1/2 hour production, this one based on Maxwell Anderson’s play about an inventor who devises a time machine then goes to the past to try to change the course of his life. Once again Dustin Hoffman starred, playing Hanus Wicks. In support were Eileen Brennan, Orson Bean, Richard Castellano and others.
L’AVVENTURA (October 28th) – This was a broadcast of the 1961 film from Michelangelo Antonioni and starring Monica Vitti. It occupied a 3 1/2 hour time slot.
VICTORIA REGINA (November 4th-25th) – For 4 weeks running, N.E.T. Playhouse aired an hour-long episode of this British television miniseries about Queen Victoria. The episodes were titled Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Patricia Routledge starred as the monarch, supported by Geoffrey Dunn, Nicholas Courtney, Marianne Deeming and others.
AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE (December 2nd) – THE Arthur Miller adapted Henrik Ibsen’s famous Norwegian play but presented it like he did with The Crucible, as a statement on Joseph McCarthy. James Daly starred as Dr. Stockmann with his son, future Wings star Tim Daly, playing Morten. Kate Reid, Ken Kercheval, James Olson and William Hansen also appeared in this 1hr and 50 minute production.
A SLEEP OF PRISONERS (December 9th) – A 90-minute presentation of Christopher Fry’s verse play set during a fictional war. Four Prisoners of War clash and have symbolic dreams regarding different aspects of life, death and morality. Jon Voight, Barry Morse, Ramon Bieri and Paul Stevens starred.
OFOETI (December 16th) – This was the first television play written by Bucknell’s John Wheatcroft. It dealt with an imaginative boy who wishes his fantasies into life and gets involved in a quest to save a troll. The 90-minute fantasy starred Rene Auberjonois as Ofoeti, with Richard Dysart, Janis Young and others.
THE PLAY OF DANIEL (December 23rd) – Choral director Noah Greenberg oversaw this musical production by the New York Pro Musica Antiqua. Adapted from W.H. Auden’s verse translation of the Liturgical Drama The Play of Daniel (13th Century version), this 1-hour production was filmed at the famed Cloisters.
LA MARMITE (December 30th) – This was presented in French with English subtitles. The Theatre de la Mandragore Troupe wore masks and performed the Plautus play about a miser obsessed with his gold. Two hours long.
I WILL EXAMINE N.E.T. PLAYHOUSE’s 1967 PRODUCTIONS SOON.
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