Original Airdate: October 7th, 1969
Genre: Western, Comedy
The Movie of the Week hit its first milestone with the broadcast of The Over-the-Hill Gang. This western romp about a group of retired Texas Rangers who reunite to help clean up a frontier town finished as the top-rated television program for the week. This was a notable achievement for the fledgling network often derided by industry peers as the Almost Broadcasting Network.
This success of The Over-the-Hill Gang ran counter to an established trend that saw the TV western declining in popularity from its apex in the early 1960s when westerns proliferated on network schedules. The success of the movie was no doubt due to a well-known cast of veteran actors, along with the addition of former teen idol Ricky Nelson who appealed to a younger audience. This lighthearted comedy, absent of any violence, created a larger pool of viewers across age and gender lines.
Following the rating success of “The Over the Hill Gang”, less than halfway through the inaugural season of The Movie of the Week, ABC formally committed to producing the second line-up of made for tv movies for a second season.
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