|We like tickets at a discount!|
On our first afternoon, Herb and I walked to the TKTS booth at Times Square to get half-price tickets to a Broadway show that night. As we were waiting in line—trying to decide on which play—we saw a young woman handing out tickets for free. She approached us and asked if we wanted to be part of television focus group for CBS. We would be shown a pilot for a new prospective TV series and then given the opportunity to provide feedback. Plus, everyone who participated would receive a free gift! It sounded like fun—plus I always like to get free presents—so we took three tickets (the third one for my wife).
|The NYC headquarters of "The Eye."|
First, we were asked some general questions about our television viewing habits. Then, someone explained how the “remotes” were used to gauge audience reaction during the viewing. If you saw something you liked, you pressed a green button with one hand. If you saw something you didn’t like, you pressed the red button with the other hand. Finally, the lights dimmed and the opening scene of The Steel Collar Man was underway.
|The credits were even hard to read.|
For the record, Saturday Night Live alum Charles Rocket played D5B, an android created for warfare, but on the run from government baddies (led by Chuck Connors). D5B wants to go to the White House to make a plea for his right to exist. Hoyt Axton co-starred as a trucker that helps him along the way. I surmised that the android and the trucker would help out nice folks each week as they trekked across America—narrowly avoiding capture by mean Chuck.
|Charles Rocket as D5B.|
I wasn’t alone in my assessment of The Steel Collar Man. My wife and my pal Herb has experienced similar finger pain. We still laugh about the experience today. I’m also glad to report that CBS didn’t pick up the pilot for a TV series. However, a year later the pilot episode of The Steel Collar Man showed up on CBS in the summer of 1985 as a “special.” In TV lingo, that’s called “burning off" a busted TV pilot.
By the way, a good thing came out of that first day in NYC. That evening, we sat in the second row of Sunday in the Park With George, a sublime Stephen Sondheim musical that remains a favorite. Plus, we only paid half-price for the tickets!