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How to write a guide to your favourite TV show
by Arthur L. Lortie

You’ve all seen ‘em – those little informative documents scattered all over the Internet dedicated to this TV show or that TV show. They seem to have numerous tidbits of information that only a true devotee with enormous amounts of time on their hands could get – episode titles, air dates, episode synopsis, etc..

Unfortunately, it always seems that the one show you really want has not been covered by anyone else yet.

But wait! You’re on the Internet, aren’t you? Surely somewhere out there there must be the information you want, right? Well ...not necessarily.

But, today, I’ll show you exactly how I’ve done it (I have Internet postings for Maverick and Cop Rock and another twenty or so I intend to post when I find a site: Cheyenne, Hawaiian Eye, Sugarfoot, Bronco, Lawman, 77 Sunset Strip, etc.) and maybe those of you with additional knowledge of reference material can help me add to this FAQ.

For an illustrative example, I wanted a limited run series from the 1950s that had some cult following and an interesting history. If I chose I Love Lucy, for example, the sheer number of episodes would have been overwhelming and gone beyond the scope of this example.

1960s TV has already been covered slightly on the net (Avengers, Time Tunnel, Ghost and Mrs Muir, etc.) but 1950s coverage has been extremely rare. I've only been able to find Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Days Of Our Lives, Price Is Right, Perry Mason, Richard Diamond, and The Twilight Zone.

I decided to do a Western and chose Broken Arrow. (I had originally planned to do a non-Western, Men Into Space with William Lundigan, but the show had few guest stars and – as I found out – the episodes were numbered only and did not have titles.)


Ian J. Ball ( has created a nifty little document called FTP SITES FOR FAQs, EPISODE LISTS & EPISODE GUIDES FOR TV SHOWS. I recommend you get it somehow. I have Version: 1.00 August 1, 1995. I believe it’s located at in usenet/

There are also a great many web sites that have pointers to other sites for episode guides (like Tardis and EMA).

There also exists a listing of the episode guides that appeared in Epi-Log magazine, a discontinued periodical devoted to episodic television.

Back issues (I think) can still be ordered from the publishers. It includes such 50s/60s gems that aren’t on the Internet like Bat Masterson, Captain Midnight, The Invisible Man (1959), Jungle Jim, My Favorite Martian, Route 66 and Science Fiction Theater.

There are also several books that have published episode guides, among these:

FANTASTIC TELEVISION by Gary Gerani and Paul H. Schulman. New York: Harmony Books, 1977. (also distributed in the UK)


WARNER BROS. TELEVISION: EVERY SHOW OF THE FIFTIES AND SIXTIES EPISODE BY EPISODE by Lynn Woolley, Robert W. Malsbary, and Robert G. Strange, Jr. Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Company, Inc. . ISBN: 0-89950-144-3.

MAVERICK: THE MAKING OF THE MOVIE by Burl Barer. Boston: Charles E. Tuttle Co., Inc., 1994, ISBN: 0-8048-3031-2. This includes episode guides to the TV series as well.

MAVERICK: LEGEND OF THE WEST by Ed Robertson. Los Angeles: Pomegranate Press, 1994, ISBN: 0-938817-35-3. This includes episode guides to the TV series.

THE OFFICIAL PRISONER COMPANION by Matthew White and Jaffer Ali. New York: Warner Books, Inc. ISBN: 0-446-38744-4. (also published in the UK)

THE TWILIGHT ZONE COMPANION by Marc Scott Zicree. New York: Bantam Books, Inc. ISBN: 0-553-01416-1.

HAILING TAXI by Frank Lovece with Jules Franco. New York: Prentice Hall Press, 1988. ISBN: 0-13-372103-5.

(I know that there are many, many more. If anyone wishes to help me expand this list, I’d appreciate it.)

I have no information about the following books:

UNIVERSAL TELEVISION: THE STUDIO AND ITS PROGRAMS, 1950-1980 by Jeb H. Perry. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1983. 443 p. ISBN: 0810816288.

STORY OF THE LONE RANGER, WHO WAS THAT MASKED MAN? David Rothel. A.S. Barnes and Co., 1976.

THE REBEL. Authorized edition based on the TV series. 1961, 212 pages.

HAVE GUN, WILL TRAVEL. Authorized television edition featuring Paladin. 1959, 282 pages.


As far as I could tell, there was no published information on Broken Arrow.

An Internet resource for book searches is:

This is the on-line equivalent of BOOKS IN PRINT.

I've yet to find an online alternative to READER’S GUIDE TO PERIODICAL LITERATURE. Some databases are available on CD-ROM but I don’t know if they are available to the public yet (or affordable). I also don't believe these extend back to the 1950s.


There are several reference books that you should look up, each of which has its own unique bits of information. The first thing you’ll have to know is when the show aired and how many episodes were produced. A good starting point is HARRY AND WALLY’S FAVORITE TV SHOWS by Harry Castleman and Walter J. Podrazik, 1989, Prentice Hall Press, ISBN: 0-13-933250-2.

Under Broken Arrow it told me there were 72 thirty-minute episodes broadcast on ABC from 1956-1958 with a one-hour pilot (with Ricardo Montalban as Cochise) that aired under the anthology series, The Twentieth Century-Fox Hour (which aired from 1955-1957) and the series was syndicated under the title Cochise [so it did appear over here as well!]. It lists as stars John Lupton (Tom Jeffords), Michael Ansara (Cochise), Tom Fadden (Duffield) and Russ Bender (Marshal Stuart Randall). It also gives a brief synopsis of the series.

THE COMPLETE DIRECTORY TO PRIME TIME NETWORK TV SHOWS: 1946-PRESENT by Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh, 1988, Ballantine Books, ISBN: 0-345-35610-1 [sold in the UK]. This told me that the original airdates for the series was from September 25, 1956 to September, 1958 on Tuesdays from 9:00 to 9:30 PM; the series was repeated on Sundays in the afternoon 1959-1960 and in the evening from April, 1960 to September 18, 1960 at 7:00 to 7:30 PM. It also told me the original source material was a book called BLOOD BROTHER by Elliott Arnold and was made into a 1950 movie.

These first two books are readily available in any book store and are complementary; the first includes more information on syndicated series, while the second provides the actual broadcast dates.

THE COMPLETE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TELEVISION PROGRAMS: 1947-1979 (2 volumes) by Vincent Terrace, 1979, A. S. Barnes and Co., Inc., ISBN: 0-498-02177-7 [on sale at the MOMI/National Film Theatre Bookshop in London] gave me additional information: Narrator, Music and Music Supervision, Producer, and various directors. It also listed two additional stars of the series: Sam Flint (the hotel clerk) and Charles Horvath (Geronimo – Cochise’s enemy).

Some detective work was needed to clarify the dates in September, 1958 and April, 1960. This last source told me The Rifleman debuted in that time slot on September 30, 1958, so the date was no later than September 23, 1958. Colt .45 (the Sunday night 7PM entry) had its last Sunday showing in March, 1960 and moved to Tuesdays in April; the earliest possible date was then April.

Another excellent source is SYNDICATED TELEVISION: THE FIRST 40 YEARS: 1947-1987 by Hal Erickson, 1989, McFarland, 418 pages.

ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TELEVISION SERIES, PILOTS, AND SPECIALS, 1937-1973:[vol. 1] / Vincent Terrace. New York: Zoetrope, c1986., 480 pages.

ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TELEVISION: SERIES, PILOTS, AND SPECIALS, 1974-1984: [vol. II] / Vincent Terrace. New York: Zoetrope, c1985., 458 pages.

TV'S GREATEST HITS: THE 150 MOST POPULAR TV SHOWS OF ALL TIME / Tim Brooks & Earle Marsh. New York: Ballantine Books, 1985., 299 pages.

TV IN THE 60s: THOSE WONDERFUL SHOWS YOU GREW UP WITH / Tim Brooks & Earle Marsh. New York: Ballantine Books, 1985., 271 pages.


CHILDREN’S TELEVISION: THE FIRST 35 YEARS: 1946--1981 by George Woolery. Scarecrow, 1983, 2 vols.

KIDS’ TV: THE FIRST 25 YEARS by Stuart Fischer. Facts on File Publications, 1983. ISBN: 0-87196-794-4.

FROM MARY NOBLE TO MARY HARTMAN: THE COMPLETE SOAP OPERA BOOK by Madeline Edmonson and David Rounds. Stein and Day, 1976.

THE SOAP OPERA ENCYCLOPAEDIA by Christopher Schemering. New York: Ballantine Books, 1985. ISBN: 0-345-32459-5.

THE BOX: AN ORAL HISTORY OF TELEVISION, 1920-1961 by Jeff Kisselhoff, from Viking.


You might want to include filmographies of the major actors in your series. The Internet tool for this is the Internet Movie Database ( ). Whilst incomplete, it is an ideal starting point for research into actors, writers, directors, films, TV shows, etc. I was able to research most of the cast and crew of Broken Arrow, the TV series and the movie itself at this location.

All of the above books can supply you with certain actors’ appearances, but the definitive source is:

ACTORS’ TELEVISION CREDITS 1950-1972 by James Robert Parish, Metuchen, N. J.: The Scarecrow Press, 1973, ISBN: 0-8108-0673-8.

ACTORS' TELEVISION CREDITS: SUPPLEMENT 1 / by James Robert Parish with Mark Trost. Metuchen, N. J.: Scarecrow Press, 1978., 423 pp. ISBN 0-8108-1053-0.

ACTORS' TELEVISION CREDITS: SUPPLEMENT II, 1977-1981 / James Robert Parish and Vincent Terrace. Metuchen, N. J.: Scarecrow Press, 1982., 327 pp.

ACTORS' TELEVISION CREDITS: SUPPLEMENT III, 1982-1985 / by James Robert Parish and Vincent Terrace. Metuchen, N. J.: Scarecrow Press, 1986., 449 pp.

These told me, among other things, that the date of the Ricardo Montalban Broken Arrow telecast was May 2, 1956.

NOTE: I believe that these four works have now been collected into two volumes.


HAKE’S GUIDE TO TV COLLECTIBLES by Ted Hake, 1990, Wallace-Homestead, ISBN: 0-87069-571-1 . This lists six collectible items for Broken Arrow a 45rpm record, two jigsaw puzzles, two figurines and a pencil tablet.

THE OVERSTREET COMIC BOOK PRICE GUIDE by Robert M. Overstreet, 1993, Avon Books, ISBN: 0-380-77220-5. This lists two Broken Arrow comic books: 4-color #855 and #947.

1920-1950: THE BIG BROADCAST by Frank Buxton and Bill Owen. New York: The Viking Press, Inc. ISBN: 670-16240-X. All radio programs from three decades. Its biggest drawback is that it ends at 1950, so series like Gunsmoke and Have Gun, Will Travel aren’t listed.

TO BE CONTINUED by Ken Weiss and Ed Goodgold. New York: Bonanza Books, 1972. Information on 231 serials released by Hollywood Studios. (I believe there is another book devoted to the Republic serials also.)

If anyone knows another way to research a particular song from a series (beyond the sources listed here), I’d appreciate this information. I think CompuServe (or Prodigy?) has a research service.

I'm currently using two CDs as reference material:

TELEVISION’S GREATEST HITS Vol. II. TeeVeeTunes Records, New York.

TELEVISION’S GREATEST HITS 70s & 80s. TeeVeeTunes Records, New York. [both released here in the UK]


The Library of Congress has an interesting array of materials indexed that you can access via WWW ( Use the browse and retrieve commands and type in BROKEN ARROW. You’ll find books, music-related entries, four patterns of some type (fabric, carpet, etc.), a sculpture, a script for a 1995 movie, an intriguing 1988 treatment and scripts / credits for all 72 episodes. The only missing item was the 60-minute pilot.

Actual shows from this era are extremely rare although the Library seems to have a large collection; and others won’t be in the Library of Congress (this is, after all, a library, not a true copyright center). When I tried to do Sky King, for instance, the pickings were incredibly slim. Other series apparently weren’t submitted to the Library as far as I could tell: The Rogues and Name of the Game, for two. The good thing about the Library of Congress listings is that we know the listed shows still exist.

The library’s data base is not completely cross-referenced. When doing earlier series, I found that some episodes, for whatever reason, only showed up under an alternative search method. For example, when researching certain early Warner Brothers series, I had to go through all 9,000-plus listings of Warner Brothers Presents, Inc.. A good method, however, seems to be to try typing a shorter variation of the series name (BROKEN ARROW in our example), then retrieving all items of interest.

The library’s listings look something like this when you get lucky:

PA-106-894 (COHM) ITEM 60 OF 80 IN SET 7

TITL: Broken arrow : [episode title], The Trial / produced by Mel Epstein ; directed by Albert S. Rogell.

IMPR: [s.l. : s.n.], c1956.

PHYS: 1 film reel (ca. 26 min.) : sd., b & w ; 16 mm.

NOTE: Based on characters from the novel Blood brother, by Elliott Arnold.

Deposit includes synopsis (1 p.) & credits sheets (2 p.).

Additional title on synopsis: White man's justice.

CAST: John Lupton, Michael Ansara, Damian O'Flynn et al.

CRED: Teleplay by Peter R. Brooke; director of photography: Charles VanEnger; film editor: Richard W. Farrell.

CLNA: ac Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation

DCRE: 1956 DPUB: 13Oct56 DREG: 17Jun81

APAU: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation, employer for hire.

PREV: Novel prev. reg. & renewed R572884.

LINM: NM: television motion picture.


DPUB, for newer TV series at least, commonly coincides with the original date of broadcast, and SEST, tells us this came from a series called Broken Arrow.

Searching Blood Brother came up with book information on the source material.

The best non-electronic means for episode titles and summaries seems to be to find a library that has archived editions of TV Guide [the American near-equivalent of the Radio Times]. In my area, I’m limited to searching through the Boston University Library. TV Guide has an Internet (TVGUIDE.COM) site, but doesn’t yet support ftp or http.

Using the dates acquired above, it may also be possible to get information episode titles and summaries from archived newspapers. Some newspapers have Internet sites, others (The Washington Post and Mercury Sun Times?) have links through online services, but again, I don’t believe they searchable this way back through the 1950s. Other newspapers have plans to distribute their archives via CD-ROM, but I doubt they’ll initially go this far back and be available to or affordable by the general public.

The best source of information for individual episodes are the syndicators themselves. They prepare press kits which they distribute to television stations that include episode synopsis and titles, guest stars, etc. They are expensive to produce and not generally available to the public, but you may be able to get copies of some from one of your local TV stations (use nicname WPIX, for instance, for an online e-mail source).

I once stumbled across a station on the Internet that listed episode guides for the series that it was carrying (1960s Batman, Dynasty, Eight Is Enough, Family Affair, Fantasy Island, Ghost And Mrs Muir, Green Hornet, Grizzly Adams, Hart To Hart, In Living Color, Nanny And The Professor, Wonderwoman and Hooperman) but unfortunately I lost their web address after grabbing the guides (can anyone help?) and this practice seems to be rare.

(From Linda -- I would assume this is the FX site which can be found off

There is an organization called National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE) that publishes a PROGRAMMER'S GUIDE, an annual publication that lists key domestic and international distributors, their addresses and all programs that they sell. I believe the cost is $50.00. This might be another way to acquire these guides.


Archie will locate files on the Internet with names similar to your target series; for our example, you may want to try BROKENARROW, BROKEN-ARROW, BROKEN_ARROW, etc.

nicname yields further research material. For example, when researching Warner Brothers series, I tried nicname warner... and it told me that one of the Warner Brothers sites is ACEVENTURA.COM. nicname ACEVENTURA.COM gives me the name, e-mail address, and phone number of the site supervisor. This person could help direct you to a specific person within the company. (You could also try requesting info from postmaster@ACEVENTURA.COM).


The distributors listed from the NATPE guide should be able to tell you which TV stations are carrying their series. Setting up a trade package with someone from that area is possible through many newsgroups.

I'm currently collecting information on TV series available on videocassette. Both CBS-FOX and Columbia House have ongoing series. I will publish this information when I get it.


I'm posting my initial pass at the Broken Arrow episode guide on Thursday, October 12, 1995 to complete the example here.

Posting your guide shouldn't be a problem. Ian J. Ball’s FTP SITES FOR FAQs, EPISODE LISTS & EPISODE GUIDES FOR TV SHOWS lists several sites that provide archival information for TV shows and would be happy to place yours on it.

So, now that you know how to get the information, I expect each and every reader of this FAQ to post information about their favorite show.

Reprinted with full acknowledgement from the now defunct Nostalgia-L listserv on the Internet.

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