The Bold Ones was a Wheel Program that ran on NBC from 1969-1973. During each of the four seasons, the series alternated between different series, each focused on people in a different high-stakes job. The first two seasons rotated three series, the third alternated two, and the final season ran one.
The four shows that ran under the umbrella of The Bold Ones were:
- The New Doctors (1969-1973): starring E. G. Marshall, David Hartman, and John Saxon as a neurosurgeon and his two assistants who work on the cutting edge of medical research. It was only series to last the whole four seasons. Co-created by Steven Bochco.
- The Lawyers (1969-1972): starring Burl Ives as a respected defense attorney who hires two bright brothers (Joseph Campanella and James Farentino) to lighten his caseload. The series won two Emmy Awards for directing and music. Created by Roy Huggins (Maverick, The Fugitive and later, The Rockford Files).
- The Protectors (1969-1970): starring Hari Rhodes as a progressive black DA of a California city who finds himself butting heads with a deputy police chief (Leslie Nielsen) who was brought in from Cleveland to help solve the city's crime problem.
- The Senator (1970-1971): starring Hal Holbrook as an idealistic freshman Senator who tries to use his position to change things for the better. It won five Emmy Awards, including Best Drama Series and Best Actor.
The Bold Ones was notable for being a socially conscious series that confronted controversial issues (especially in The Protectors and The Senator) when most series of the time focused on escapism. The shows were highly influential, laying the groundwork for other popular procedural dramas such as ER, Law & Order, and The West Wing.
Tropes associated with The Bold Ones include:
- Crossover: The New Doctors has a two-episode crossover with Ironside (1967).
- Category Traitor: Leslie Washburne is accused of being this by the local African American community in The Protectors.
- Replaced the Theme Tune: The atonal first season open by Robert Prince. The more tuneful replacement by Dave Grusin.
- Ripped from the Headlines: The Senator two-parter "A Continual Roar of Musketry" dealt with the Kent State massacre in all but name.note
- Jerkass Has a Point: In the episode of The Senator "Power Play", Stowe objects to party leadership intending to endorse for a special congressional election a wealthy donor who otherwise has no political experience. When Stowe accuses the party leader of cronyism, he points out that Stowe only has his own seat because his father, who had served in the Senate before him, had retired.
- No Party Given: The political party Hays Stowe belongs to is never identified, although his stances are very liberal. Justified as the show was produced in the time of the Fairness Doctrine, so attaching a hero to a specific political party would require equal time to be given to the other.
- Pilot Movie: The characters from The Lawyers appeared in two TV movies before the series proper began. The Protectors and The Senator both had pilot movies as well.
- Power Trio: The New Doctors and The Lawyers both were built around these sort of teams.
- Short-Runners: The Protectors and The Senator both ran for only a single season.
- Where the Hell Is Springfield?: The State Hays Stowe represents in The Senator is never identified.