Three for the Road
Three for the Road is now but a footnote to TV history. It
lasted just 12 weeks and has seldom been seen since it went off the air in
Starting in 1975 the FCC allowed the networks to add the Sunday 7:00 PM
hour to their national schedules, providing the hour was used either for
family friendly programming or news. All three networks decided to try
family programs: NBC already had The Wonderful
World of Disney in their Sunday line-up. ABC tried a series based on Swiss
Family Robinson. CBS offered Three for the Road.
The show cast Alex Rocco as a widowed free-lance photographer traveling
the country with his two teen-aged sons in an oversized motorhome dubbed
Zebec. Wherever they stopped they found an hour's worth of drama and
The series ran into problems even before it began: CBS had positioned
its popular news magazine 60 Minutes in the 6PM hour. Local stations,
however needed time for their own new and public affairs shows.
Approximately 40 CBS stations opted not to show Three for the Road. The
day of its premiere, the New York Times ran a feature story
explaining the situation and predicting an early cancellation.
Indeed, when the ratings for the first week of the new season came out
Three for the Road was the lowest rated of all 66 network prime time
shows. The show had its fans and several TV critics felt that it was the
best attempt at a family show: one that could be enjoyed by adults and
CBS realized that no matter what replaced Three for the Road, the
program would face the same opposition from the local channels. The only
solution was to move 60 Minutes into the 7 PM slot and returning the 6:00
hour to the locals. The change was effected in early December 1975. 60
Minutes went straight to the top of the Neilson charts and remains in the
Sunday 7PM timeslot to this day.
Three for the Road starred Alex Rocco as Pete Karras, Vincent Van Patten
as his son John (age 16) and Leif Garrett as his son Endy (age 13). It
premiered with a 90-minute pilot film that was shown as a CBS Thursday
Night Movie on September 4th, 1975, the series debuted in its regular
Sunday time slot on September 14th. The final episode was broadcast on
Sunday November 30th. Several of the broadcast episodes were joined in
progress due to football games going over their allotted time, and some
episodes were flat out pre-empted.
Here is a mini episode guide:
PILOT: Pete Karras and his sons meet an attractive newscaster whose
boyfriend has a violent streak.
Episode One: John has to overcome his fear of heights to take part
in a hang-gliding competition.
Episode Two: John competes in a tennis match against an opponent
whose parents will go to any lengths to ensure he wins.
Episode Three: A woman hires Pete to photograph her sister&'s
Episode Four: An old friend of Pete&'s (played by Larry Hagman)
is a balloonist who uses his alcoholism to keep his college-aged daughter
Episode Five: Endy befriends a girl whose father is a doctor on the
Episode Six: A teen runaway and her boyfriend try to steal the
Karras motor home.
Episode Seven: (not aired)
Episode Eight: (not aired)
Episode Nine: At a home for troubled boys, Endy befriends one of
Episode Ten: En route to an assignment, Pete and the boys meet an
single mother whose neglects her son to pursue a love life.
Episode Eleven: The daughter of an industrial magnate is kidnapped.
Pete and the boys attempt to help.
Episode Twelve: A horse riding accident lands Pete in the hospital
leaving John to deal with young Endy's fright and confusion.