O.K., this one happened the same way my Silver-Age quizzes for my Deck Log column do.  I was driving along one morning and happened to think of an unusual detail about a television programme.  That led to recalling another, and then, another.  Pretty soon, I wondered if I could get a decent-sized trivia quiz out of it.


As this posting shows, I did.


The topic is something near and dear to our experience---television.  We all have one of those magic boxes in our homes, and we all have spent many faithful hours in front of it.  The question is:  how closely were you paying attention?  Because this quiz is slightly different.  I’ll get to that in a minute.


Here are the guidelines:

1. The questions come from television programmes which appeared on the “Big Three” networks, NBC and CBS and ABC, and the only acceptable answers come from the same pool. That was the only way to make it manageable.  It’s impossible to take the thousands of fourth-network, cable, and direct-TV series over the past thirty years into account.


2.  With the exception of the question involving The Tonight Show (number twelve), all of the questions and answers are limited to shows which appeared in prime time, i.e., 7:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

3.  This is not a Silver-Age quiz. Any network prime-time programme which has aired since the inception of television to the present is eligible for consideration.

4.  Here is what makes this quiz slightly different: you are not required to know, or find out, any behind-the-scenes information about any given show.  The answers to all of the questions can be found simply by having watched television.


You will find questions like:

When William Frawley left the situation-comedy series My Three Sons, what was the reason given for his character, Bub, leaving the Douglas family?


What you won’t find is:

Why did William Frawley leave My Three Sons?


The latter question would require you to obtain behind-the-scenes knowledge of the reason for Frawley’s departure from the show.  The former question, however, only requires that you have viewed the pertinent episode.


In other words, it’s a genuine couch-potato quiz!


Finally, my usual caveat:  I am not all-knowing, not even on the subject of classic television.  It’s eminently possible that I’ve missed something.  Perhaps, even likely.  If anyone comes up with an answer that falls within the guidelines I’ve presented above and meets all the criteria posed by the question, then I’ll gladly award credit for it.  Besides, I always learn new stuff myself when that happens.


As with my comic-book quizzes, I’ve no objection to anyone referencing the Internet or even---gasp!---hard-copy material.  It’s my obligation to provide questions that are as Google-proof as possible.  I believe I have done so, but you fellows can get pretty creative in your thinking.


I think that’s everything . . . so let’s go!  

1.  This one has been plumbed so many times that the correct answer is definitely out there on the Internet, but it’s such a popular one that I had to lead off with it:

What was the first situation comedy to show a married couple sharing the same bed?


2.  Name three television series with the word “petticoat” in their titles.

3.  The detective series Mannix changed formats after the first season. Who was the only character, outside of Joe Mannix himself, to appear in episodes of both formats?

4.  What distinctive feature was shared by the theme songs of Gilligan’s Island, The Brady Bunch, and Mary Tyler Moore over the course of their network runs?

5.  Name two dramatic series that were spun off from situation comedies.

6.  Name the series in which the title character did not appear on camera until the second season.

7.  Who was the first captain of SSRN Seaview on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea?

8.  What were the first and maiden names of Steve Douglas’ first wife on My Three Sons? O.K., how about the first and maiden names of his second wife, too?

9.  What sitcom featured sisters named Wilhelmina, Roberta, and Elizabeth?

10.  What was the radio call-sign for Sergeant Saunders’ squad on Combat!?

11.  Name a series in which the lead character was killed off in the final episode. (Note:  the lead character, the star, not just a regular character.)

 12.  On The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, when sidekick Ed McMahon was absent, bandleader Doc Severinsen replaced Ed as the announcer and second-banana, while Tommy Newsome took over leading the band. But, on that rare occasion when both McMahon and Severinsen were off on the same night, Newsome took over as announcer and second-banana to Johnny---but who stepped in to lead the band?

13.  Name three sitcoms where the four lead characters played themselves, in a fictional setting.

14.  I’m not making this one up, folks: what situation comedy changed to a spy series halfway through its run?

15.  The Fugitive is often credited as being the first series to resolve its premise in the last episode of its run. However, there were two series that did the same thing before Doctor Kimble caught the one-armed man.  Name them. 

And there's an American-produced series that was network-run in Canada and syndicated here in the U.S. that also beat out The Fugitive by ending its premise first.   Extra credit if you can name it, too.

Good luck!

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11.  Name a series in which the lead character was killed off in the final episode. (Note:  the lead character, the star, not just a regular character.)

Hmmm .... I know of a show from the '90s called Action, which starred Jay Mohr as a cranky Hollywood agent. It got canceled at the end of its first season, so the producers inserted a scene in the now-series finale in which the agent had a heart attack and die -- at 9:30 on a Thursday night, the show's timeslot.

But it was on Fox, so it doesn't fit.


May 27 works just fine.  I hope you and Mrs. Benson have a great trip.

Commander Benson said:

Ordinarily, I would have provided the answers along about now.  But the Good Mrs. Benson and I are about to leave on a cruise to Alaska, and we won't be able to rely on regular Internet access.  I really want to see the discussion when I present the answers, so if you fellows can wait until 27 May, that's when I'll cough them up.

In the meantime, I can provide some statistics.

Of the fifteen questions:

Seven of them were nailed solidly.

One question got a response so close to the right answer that it was, in essence, correct, and credit is given.

Two were given different answers than the ones I had been looking for, but after research, I have to allow that they met the guidelines and the criteria of the question---and I consider them correct responses.

Three questions have all been answered incorrectly.

Two of them nobody's tackled at all.

Incidentally, Luke, I agree, cliffhanger deaths are ambiguous and shouldn't count---and they don't.  The correct answer to question number eleven is the definitive death of the lead in the last episode of the series, with no room for doubt that the character is dead.

Keep trying.  I'm impressed as all get out at how well all of you have done so far---including two answers which weren't what I had in mind, but counted.

Regarding #12, there are a number of internet sites that say it was Shelly Cohen, including Mark Evanier’s obituary for Tommy Newsom (2007)—that obit does give his name as Shelley, but other sites have it as Shelly.

...#11: NICHOLS, starring James Garner

3.  IMBd’s list of the full cast for Mannix lists that Martin Braddock played Gordon Parker in seven season 1 episodes and in the 3rd episode of season 2 (“Pressure Point”).

That’s the best I’ve got.

1.  This one has been plumbed so many times that the correct answer is definitely out there on the Internet, but it’s such a popular one that I had to lead off with it:

What was the first situation comedy to show a married couple sharing the same bed?

According to this from MeTV, the first animated comedy to show a married couple sharing the same bed was The Flintstones!

ClarkKent_DC said:

Hmmm .... I know of a show from the '90s called Action, which starred Jay Mohr as a cranky Hollywood agent.... But it was on Fox, so it doesn't fit.

I can think of British cases. (When the Boat Comes In, One Foot in the Grave.)

6. Braken's World (Hat-tip: Wikipedia.)

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