Thursday, March 1, 2012

It Should've Been on a Saturday: Off To See The Wizard (1967)

Nearly 30 years after "The Wizard of Oz" turned Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, & Bert Lahr into cinematic icons, MGM revisited the characters from L. Frank Baum's classic tale, this time using them as the hosts of a weekly anthology series, Off To See The Wizard, which aired on Fridays on ABC 45 years ago, but lasted just one season.

Toontracker provides the open and partial close, in black & white, unfortunately, for the series:

Cartoon legends June Foray, Daws Butler, & Mel Blanc provided the voices for the framing sequences surrounding that week's feature, usually a family film from the MGM library that was split into two parts, similar in format to NBC's Wonderful World of Disney, which anchored that network's Sunday lineup for years until the 90's. Some of those same films would later resurface, intact this time, as part of SFM's monthly Family Theatre syndicated weekend package in the 70's.

Why did Wizard fail? It might be because it was on the wrong night or day. ABC might've been better served to use this as a bridge to American Bandstand at the bottom of their Saturday morning lineup. 10 years later, the network finally went in that direction by launching the ABC Weekend Special, which lasted nearly 20 years despite being restricted by a half-hour format. I barely remember seeing Wizard myself back then, so I can't give it a honest rating.

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