Balladeer’s Blog takes a look at the 1970 episodes of N.E.T. Playhouse. For the opening look at the 1966 episodes click HERE.

artist enteringTHOUGHTS OF THE ARTIST ON LEAVING THE SIXTIES (January 1st) – Assorted figures performed, did selected readings and offered perspectives on moving into a new decade. Among those appearing: Christopher Walken, Jessica Tandy, Fred Rogers, George Carlin and Dick Gregory. An entire version of Edward Albee’s short play The Sandbox was enacted, as well. Approximately 60 minutes for the bulk of the show and 30 minutes for The Sandbox.

VOLPONE (January 8th) – Canadian adaptation of the Ben Jonson comedy from 1605. The title character tries to con favors out of well to do associates by pretending to be dying. 81 minutes but stretched to 90 with a 9-minute animated short from Poland titled The Composer and His Muse. The short has no dialogue. 

hamileHAMILE (January 15th) – A Ghanaian adaptation of Hamlet written by that nation’s Joe C. De Graft and performed by actors from the National Theatre of Ghana. De Graft sets the action in Tongo, changes the names Hamlet and Laertes to Hamile and Laitu, plus he adapts swordplay into traditional Ghanaian wrestling in this 2-hour production.     

THE WRITE-OFF (January 29th) – This was a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation production of George Salverson’s play addressing the age discrimination of the time. Salverson was motivated by a friend’s treatment in the advertising industry when he turned 49 years old. The 90-minute performance starred Cec Linder, Gerard Parkes and Sandra Scott. 

FIVE TOMORROWS (February 5th) – Kurt Vonnegut Jr. hosts five short films which present grim visions of the future. The Scream (Italy) – A man struggles to maintain his identity in a super-state which demands total suppression of the individual. The Other Side (Belgium) – A powerful yet enigmatic force subjugates an entire community in the name of law and order. Silo (Australia) – Two men stationed in an underground missile silo face the prospect of unleashing a nuclear holocaust. The Fall of Varema (Italy) – A city of the future lies in ruins from escalating violence. Faster, Faster! (France) – High-speed, bustling activities that amount to nothing obsess future humanity. 90 minutes total.  

AMERICA, INC. (February 19th) – Great Britain’s David Silver travels America in footage compiled in late 1969. He visits Ellis Island, the Bowery, a Hare Khrishna gathering, and an anti-Vietnam War demonstration in Washington D.C. Jean Shepherd offers his own takes on the country and the entire production is peppered with public service parodies from the fictional America, Inc. 84 minutes plus a 6-minute modern dance video.     

yesterday the childrenYESTERDAY THE CHILDREN WERE DANCING (February 26th) – A 90-minute CBC drama about the 1964 terrorist attacks in Canada launched by Quebec Separatists and plans for further attacks during the federal elections. The French-Canadien Gravel family falls apart over divisions on the entire issue of independence for Quebec. Adapted from the play by Gratien Gelinas. 

STOPPED RUNNING (March 5th) – A disillusioned young couple headed for a California commune wind up stuck in a Pennsylvania town while earning money to get their car out of impound. Ultimately, the man decides to settle into traditional society, but the woman continues on her way to the commune. From a play by Robert Wickersham. 90 minutes.  

WALLS (March 12th) – A West German film dramatizing the souring friendship between a Communist family and a Nazi family from 1931 onward to the construction of the Berlin Wall. Written by Gunther Lys and starring Siegfried Wischnewski, Camilla Spira, Ernst Ronnecker and Erika Dannhoff. 83 minutes long and followed by the 7-minute Polish animated short Card File, about a robot researching what caused humanity’s destruction.   

teuber as JesusJESUS: A PASSION PLAY FOR AMERICANS (March 26th) – Before the concept album Jesus Christ Superstar became a stage production and before Godspell came this rock and blues version of the Passion of the Christ. Peter Ivers composed the music, while Tim Mayer wrote the piece, adapted from the King James Bible. The production hit the stage in 1969, and this filmed version is performed on the roof and interior of an abandoned Boston warehouse. Andreas Teuber starred as Jesus in this hour-long presentation.    

THE BOND (April 9th) – A 1965 made for television movie from England. A newlywed couple – the woman a fashion designer and the man an architect – live in London. When the wife (Hannah Gordon) leaves her career to be a housewife, she feels lost, prompting efforts on the part of her and her husband (Barry Lowe) to see if they can reconcile their marriage to modern changes in the social dynamic. 90 minutes. 

THEY aka THEY HAVE TAKEN OVER (April 16th) – Adaptation of Marya Mannes’ dystopian novel about a youth-oriented dictatorship in the year 1990. The regime has decreed that people become useless and are too much of a drain on resources at age 55, so they are then confined until they become 65, at which point they are put to death. A group of elderly people thus confined and facing imminent execution share their passions with a young man who washes ashore near their shared quarters. Jack Gilford, Joseph Wiseman and Carmen Mathews starred. 90 minutes.   

trail of tearsTRAIL OF TEARS (April 30th) – Mock documentary dramatization of Cherokee Chief John Ross’s legal efforts to save his people from being removed from their land and forced to travel the Trail of Tears, along which thousands would die. In this 90-minute production, Johnny Cash played John Ross, with a supporting cast including his wife June Carter Cash, Jack Palance, Joseph Cotten, Melvyn Douglas and Paulette Smart.  

SISTER BALONIKA (May 14th) – CBC drama about Cowichan Indian nun Sister Veronica, who is sent to teach at a Yukon Territory school for First Nations children. The young students pronounce Veronica as “Balonika.” Paul St. Pierre wrote this story about the unorthodox sister clashing with unyielding superiors and the fire that burns down the school due to the title character’s own negligence. 80 minutes and paired with a 10-minute Polish short film Little Sorrows

THE TAKING (May 28th) – Three actors (Craig Bova, Gilmer McCormick and Jewel Walker) act out their own drama amid documentary footage of Pennsylvania residents whose lives are being disrupted when they must move because a new highway will run through their old neighborhood. 75 minutes plus a 14-minute short film titled The Grandfather.

EL TEATRO CAMPESINO (June 4th) – A production featuring drama, musical performances and puppetry from the early years of this troupe formed by striking California workers. I could not find a running time or cast information on this one. 

THE CEREMONY OF INNOCENCE (June 11th) – Ronald Ribman’s play about King Ethelred the Unready, whose efforts to avoid war with the Danes were often criticized as cowardice or ineptitude. The cast included Richard Kiley, James Broderick and Gilmer McCormick. 88 minutes. 

NAKED ISLAND (June 25th) – British television production from 1965. An adaptation of Russell Braddon’s novel about his World War Two experiences as an Australian POW in Japanese-held Singapore. As the war seems to be winding down toward a Japanese surrender, rumors circulate in the camp that the Japanese may kill all the POWs first. 75 minutes.

HELEN HAYES REMEMBERS (October 8th) – A 90-minute presentation of Helen Hayes reminiscing and acting out assorted scenes from her lengthy stage and screen career. Stephen McHattie, Maureen Stapleton and others assisted in the production. 

scent of flowersA SCENT OF FLOWERS (October 15th) – CBC drama about Zoe, a young woman who eventually committed suicide over her romantic feelings for a married man. Zoe’s impending doom is contrasted with her loved ones’ preparations for her funeral. 90 minutes.  

OPEN THEATRE – THE SERPENT (October 22nd) – This was a 50-minute production of Jean-Claude van Itallie’s “play-ceremony” about Adam and Eve creating God in their own image and similar variations on elements of the Book of Genesis. The Serpent was followed by a half-hour documentary about the history of the Open Theatre. 

THE STRATFORD NATIONAL THEATRE CANADA – THE THREE MUSKETEERS (November 5th) – Filmed performance of the Stratford’s very ambitious staging of the Alexandre Dumas novel. The production featured 44 actors, 69 scenes and 14 swordfights & battles. Martha Henry starred as Lady de Winter, with a supporting cast that included Colin Fox, Leo Cicero and Mia Anderson. 2 hours.  

NEW YORK TELEVISION THEATER: FIFTEEN SHORT PLAYS (November 12th) – Fourteen short plays by William Saroyan and one by James Saunders were performed in this 90-minute-long production. The cast included Jean Stapleton, Tony Lo Bianco, Pat Hingle and Angela Wood. 

THE SANDCASTLE / THE TAPE RECORDER (November 19th) – Two comparatively short plays are presented within an hour and a half. The Sandcastle, a family drama by Lanford Wilson, starred Irene Dailey and Jean Fowler. The Tape Recorder, a suspense piece by Pat Flower, starred Inga Swenson and Michael Tolan.   

FOUL! / ACTOR’S CHOICE (November 26th) – Another split program. Foul! presented ten very short plays about the dangers of pollution and that was followed by readings from Lewis Carroll by Gwen Verdon and Cyril Ritchard. The opening plays starred Charlotte Rae, Sam Waterston, Barbara Cason and others. 90 minutes total. 

DRAGON COUNTRY (December 3rd) – Two one-act plays by Tennessee Williams are presented. I Can’t Imagine Tomorrow starred Kim Stanley and William Redfield. Talk to Me Like the Rain and Let Me Listen starred Lois Smith and Alan Mixon. 81 minutes total.   

marat sadeMARAT/SADE (December 10th) – An airing of the 1967 film about the Marquis de Sade directing a performance of The Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat with a cast consisting of inmates at the Asylum of Charenton. Based on the play by Peter Weiss. The cast included Glenda Jackson, Patrick Magee and Freddie Jones. 2 hours. 

A NICE PLACE TO VISIT (December 17th) – Performers from Chicago’s Second City Troupe joined with New York performers for a series of sketches that satirized life in New York City. The cast included Christopher Guest, Marion Mercer, Paul Benedict and Barbara Dana. 90 minutes.        





Filed under Forgotten Television


  1. Good overview!

    On another note, I’m relying on you to watch Biden’s SOTU speech tonight so I don’t have to. Sorry to do that to you!

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