Another part of TV history -- a significant part of it -- has suddenly disappeared: CBS has dropped "Hallmark Hall of Fame," which means commercial broadcast TV's longest-running and only movie anthology is without a home for the moment.
"For the moment" may be the operative phrase here: There's always the Hallmark Channel, but this old, distinguished series really was designed for commercial broadcasters. It's a remarkable dinosaur, a holdover from the days when major advertisers like Ford and General Electric essentially controlled prime time, buying up chunks of time for their own sponsored programs. In due course, the power shifted to the networks, which took back their airwaves. But there was one series that refused to die: Hallmark.
The Hall of Fame series really is -- and I say this with no hyperbole whatsoever -- one of the great treasures of television. For it to die outright would be for a piece of TV's soul -- such as it is, which isn't all that much -- to die as well. Much credit due to CBS, which held on probably for as long as it could, but in a prime-time environment filled with crashing, burning, shooting and disrobing, Hallmark and its lovingly produced, family-oriented films were as quaint as a horse and buggy.
CBS has held onto the franchise for 30 years, but NBC was home for most of its history, which stretches back to the dawn of TV: 1951.
CBS' statement: “This is a partnership that has served CBS very well for many years. Hallmark Hall of Fame is a first-class organization, and we wish them nothing but success in their future.”