Rocket G-Men! Episode 3: Nazi Lap Dancers!

…I just misread that as Nazi LARP dancers

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The Doclopedia #1,286

The Alphabet: Y is for…

YOW!…was, depending upon who you ask, either a moment of genius in television programming or the worst fuckup in television history. There truly seems to be no middle ground.

In 1969, the ABC television network was a distant 4th in the ratings behind CBS, NBC and the DuMont Network, which folded the next year. It was rumored that in areas where people could only get clear reception of an ABC station, they listened to the radio instead.

Figuring the network had nothing to lose, the guys at the top let young Albert Collier produce a 2 hour comedy/variety show to premier on Sunday nights from 9 to 11. Albert went right to work on it.

The show he created was YOW! And it was described as an “improv comedy/rock concert/topical humor version of an underground comic on television”. The cast was huge, 45 people, many of them hippies and unknown actors. Very often, most of them were stoned or tripping during taping. The show also used animated bits by many underground cartoonists. Many of those clips were crude and far left leaning politically. There were fake commercials and real commercials done live by the aforementioned stoned cast. On any given show, 6 to 8 rock bands would perform. It was the most chaotic thing television had ever seen.

Predictably, young people loved it and older folks hated it. After the first episode, many ABC affiliates in the South and Mid-West refused to show it. In most of the rest of the country, the ABC affiliates could not afford two hours of dead air or a Baptist televangelist, so they ran it. In political arenas from town halls to the U.S. Senate, it was argued that maybe this hippie counterculture show was somehow Un-American. Hearings were held! Speeches were given! Protests happened!

By episode 5, ABC had seen it’s Sunday night ratings skyrocket. People were tuning in just to see what the hubbub was all about. This increase in ratings caused the ABC brass to let Albert Collier do a bunch of promotional bits for the show that he scattered all throughout the rest of ABC’s prime time schedule. These caught people’s notice and gave the network’s entire schedule a boost. ABC moved into the third spot in the ratings and narrowed the gap between it and NBC.

The nationwide ruckus caused by the show reached it’s peak with episode 14, the Christmas episode. That show got complaints from every religious organization in the United States and a few in Canada & Mexico. There were violent clashes between fans of the show and people who hated it. In two cases, the National Guard had to step in. ABC announced that the New Year’s Eve episode would be the last…but it was going to be live and three hours long. The nation held it’s breath.

Knowing which side their bread was buttered on, most sponsors stayed clear of YOW!, but a few brave ones signed on for the final episode. As it turned out, they chose well.

The final show was full of well known actors, musicians, bands, writers, poets and others. Beyond the wildest imaginings of both fans and haters, it was much crazier and outrageous than normal. There were even a few brief moments of nudity by both sexes. At one point, it even showed two men kissing.

It was broadcast live from New York, where it took place in 7 locations around town. The total live audience for the show was around 35,000. The television audience was about 8.5 million, not counting an estimated 2 million more that watched and lied about it. When it was all over, ABC was hit with fines from the FCC, lawsuits by the score and condemnation in churches big and small.

They were also the ratings leader for that night by 3 to 1 over CBS.

In the end, months later, most of the lawsuits were thrown out of court, preachers found new threats to the moral fabric of American Youth and the Supreme Court actually ruled in ABC’s favor versus the FCC. When Fall rolled around, ABC presented a whole slate of shows that were cop dramas, sitcoms, nighttime soap operas, westerns and sci-fi series. But many of them had an edge to them and some of the old YOW! cast showed up in bit parts. ABC moved into 3rd place right behind NBC and stayed there for years.

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The Doclopedia #1,287

The Alphabet: Y is for…

Young Men Of Mars…is a youth service organization that formed in 2024 to do good works in Burroughs, Welles and Bradbury domes. This could be anything from planting trees in parks to putting on pancake breakfasts in honor of the farmers of Robinson dome. They also do a regular show on Marsnet. The show includes everything from man on the street interviews to high school plays to local news.

In 2049, to celebrate their 25th year, the Young Men Of Mars had a statue dedicated to them. You can see it in Carl Sagan Park, right across from the entrance to the zoo.

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