Though his name was not familiar to the general public, television writer and producer Glen A. Larson was responsible for some of the most widely popular — and family-friendly — TV series of the 1970s and ‘80s.
The Six Million Dollar Man, Magnum P.I., McCloud, Quincy M.E., Knight Rider, The Fall Guy, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Alias Smith and Jones, and the original version of Battlestar: Galactica were all produced by Larson, as were many lesser-known series like BJ and the Bear, Switch, and Manimal. Before entering TV, Larson was a member of the singing group The Four Preps; and his musical talent was displayed in the fact that, in addition to writing and producing, Larson also wrote the theme music for many of his TV shows.
Then as today, critics held Larson’s family-friendly entertainment in low esteem – a fact Larson himself recognized. “We weren’t going to win a shelf full of Emmys,” he noted. But the producer didn’t resent the lack of critical attention; indeed, he was pleased by the fact that his shows were “reaching a core audience” and entertaining the larger public, not pandering to a tiny clique of sex-and-gore-obsessed critics. “My shows were enjoyable. They had a pretty decent dose of humor, and they all struck a chord out there in the mainstream,” the producer told the Archive of American Television in 2009. “I would like to think that they brought a lot of entertainment into the living room.”
That they did. What a pity that more TV creators today don’t take Larson’s attitude…and rather than making shows that appeal only to other Hollywood elitists, actually make something families at home would like to — and be able to — watch.