NBC in 1979

Broadcast History
Episode Guide
Express To Terror
And A Cup Of Kindness, Too
The Queen And The Improbable Knight
Hail To The Chief
A Very Formal Heist
The Green Girl
Where Have You Been Billy Boy
Unproduced Episodes
Lost Episodes
Creative Team
Route Map
Building Supertrain
Grand Central Set
In Action
NBC in 1979
Fred Silverman
Side Tracked
Home Video
TV Guide Review
NBC Publicity
Publicity Stills Collection
Super Stuff
About The Author
Sources and Links

Perhaps NBC's most famous promotional campaign?  Introduced in the spring of 1979 "Proud as a Peacok" above, replaced "It's The New NBC" and 1978's "NBC See Us" seen below

     NBC went into the 1978-79 TV season asking views to "NBC See Us" with such offerings as "Dick Clark's Live Wednesday"; "W.E.B." a soapish drama inspired by the movie "Network"; "Grandpa Goes To Washington"; "Eddie Capra Mysteries"; Scott Baio in "Who's Watching The Kids"; and Joe Namath in "The Waverly Wonders." 
You don't remember any of those shows?!?  Remember NBC-TV at this time had only a few shows that at best only mildly flirted with attracting viewers.  Network TV was essentially a two horse race between ABC and CBS in 1978-79. 
A typical example of the winners of the time is found in the Top 15 Nielsen figures provided in the February 24-March 2, 1979 TV Guide:
1. "Mork & Mindy" (ABC)
2. "Three's Company" (ABC)
3. "Laverne & Shirley" (ABC)
4. "Happy Days" (ABC)
5. "Angie" (ABC)
6. Movie: "Elvis" (ABC)
7. Miniseries: "Backstairs at the White House" (NBC)
8. "Taxi" (ABC)
9. "M*A*S*H" (CBS)
10. Movie: "Gone With The Wind" -Part 1 (CBS)
11. "Charlie's Angels" (ABC)
12. "Little House on the Prairie" (NBC)
13. "Barney Miller" (ABC)
14. Movie: "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" (NBC)
15. "Diff'rent Strokes" (NBC) 
Only a pair of NBC regular series make the top of the charts and this particular week was a good one as the network was lucky enough to place part of a miniseries and a movie in the Top 15.
Another excellent example of the plight of NBC at this time in history, check out the various TV Guide covers found with the episode synopsis information on this site.  How many of these TV Guide covers feature an NBC program?

NBC's Ever-Changing 1979 Schedule

     As 1978 turned into 1979, NBC quit asking you to "NBC See Us" and with Fred Silverman's arriving at the network announced, "It's The New NBC!"  This "new" NBC featuring a shining chrome "N" logo, included "CLIFFHANGERS!" that featured three continuing stories pressed into a one-hour format and died before it was able to resolved its stories.  The great trucker and his monkey series, Glen Larson's "BJ and the Bear" began the first of its three seasons in 1979.  The remains of the once-popular Mystery Movie series squeezed out "Mrs. Columbo."  Starring Kate Mulgrew, this distant "Columbo" spin-off went through about as many title changes as their were episodes aired.  The series was also called "Kate Loves A Mystery" and "Kate Columbo," in addition to the mentioned "Mrs. Columbo."  The dying variety show format got a nail in its coffin with the short-lived "Presenting Susan Anton."  Miss Anton was doing double-duty for NBC in '79 with her duties hosting her variety series and her role on the "Stop Susan Williams" segment of "CLIFFHANGERS!"  One of the minor bright spots in the NBC line-up was "Diff'rent Strokes" starring Gary Coleman.  This series would attempt to help the network by being the launching pad for yet another McLean Stevenson series "Hello, Larry" and in the summer of 1979 "Strokes" would score with helping start the long-running "The Facts of Life" on NBC.  In these dark days of NBC in 1979 there is one interesting footnote to history, the network may be credited with starting the "reality" genre with "Real People."  This George Schlatter-produced show would go on to a few successful seasons on NBC after starting in '79.
The newness either didn't take or wore off quickly and by the spring of '79 the network's most famous trademark was returned front and center with the "Proud as a Peacock" campaign.  This well-remembered promotional slogan ran for the 1979-80 season and was refined into "We're Proud" for the 1980-81 season.  The red-and-blue "N" logo was merged with the eleven-feathered peacock to created the "Proud N" for 1980.

Greg Evigan and Sam the Chimp of NBC's "BJ and the Bear" adorns this summer 1979 TV Guide magazine cover.
Holding down the Tuesday night 8pm slot on NBC opposite ABC's "Happy Days" and "Laverne & Shirley" was this seldom remembered Kenneth Johnson-produced series "CLIFFHANGERS!"

Will It Play In Peoria?

     NBC-TV's sad fortunes in 1979 caused not just the network problems, many local affiliates made their efforts to raise viewership without the peacock's assistance.  St. Louis NBC affiliate KSD-TV 5 at the time of "Supertrain" broadcast St. Louis Cardinal baseball games.  The number of Cards baseball games pre-empting primetime often lead one at the time to wonder if the Gateway City had an NBC affiliate during the spring and summer months.  Growing up geographically between St. Louis, Missouri and Springfield, Illinois, I was fortunate to be able to twist and turn the UHF antenna and catch WICS-TV 20 for my NBC fix.  WICS was the NBC affiliate in Springfield, Illinois and on a good night their signal came in and would allow one to watch NBC, when KSD ran Cards baseball.  Though it may seem alien today, I can recall watching the first half of the "Supertrain" episode "Where Have You Been Billy Boy" in July 1979 on WICS TV-20 from Springfield and waiting for the Cards game to wrap up and free up KSD TV-5 in St. Louis.  Often the Cards games would finish around 9:30pm and KSD would have an announcer, who must have had the task of viewing the network feed and taking notes, provide the St. Louis audience with a quick review of events in the night's episode as we went back to NBC for the second half of the hour.
And speaking of the famous quote "Will It Play In Peoria," the NBC affiliate in that northern Illinois city was a notorious pre-empter back in '79.  I can recall reviewing TV Guide for the Peoria, Illinois market and being disgusted that WEEK-TV 25 didn't run certain NBC programs in favor of such lowly junk as "Family Feud."  Yes, I really do recall seeing one time that WEEK-TV 25 in Peoria dumped NBC on Thursday nights in 1979 to air Richard Dawson hosting "Family Feud"  This was perhaps as far from "Must See TV" as you could get in my opinion.  But I guess hard times called for hard choices?