The unofficial OUR WORLD Episode Guide

Our World was a documentary-style series hosted by Linda Ellerbee and Ray Gandolf that premiered on ABC in 1986. Each week's hour-long episode was devoted to "a kaleidoscope of the sights, the sounds, the emotions" of one year from the latter part of the twentieth century.

By using a judicious mix of interviews, news footage, photos, and witty narration, the program had the polish of a one-time special rather than a weekly series. Amazingly, the show's producers were able to locate and interview many past newsmakers long before you could simply "Google" someone on the web. The news footage, which almost always fit perfectly with the topic at hand, was no doubt the result of hours of painstaking research.

To describe each episode as merely "covering" a year's worth of events is a disservice to the show's writers and their considerable talent. Each program began with a theme (see titles below) and then proceeded to support that theme throughout the program. For instance, in "Duels In The Sun: Campaign 1952," the theme of duels is portrayed not only between presidential candidates, but also among Olympic athletes, countries in the Korean War, and the movie industry's struggles against television.

If you've read any of Ellerbee's work, you can easily spot her influence on the show: acerbic comments sprinkled throughout, pithy observations, and no-nonsense reporting style. You would not find Ellerbee engaging in any superfluous banter with her co-host. Even the set, as it were, reflected a Spartan sense of style. The hosts sat on stools in a soundstage that was draped with artifacts and mementos from the year being covered. Voiceovers were used between commercials and during the end-credits to relate even more facts, keeping wasted air time to a minimum. The opening sequence used understated computer animation that still holds its own twenty years later, and rousing symphonic theme music was written by Bill Conti of Rocky fame.

The show aired opposite the immensely popular Cosby during the 1986-1987 season, which may help explain why the show did not reach the audience it deserved. I suspect that ABC, unable to counter-program  the competition, commissioned Our World from the news division as a relatively low cost time filler and received much more than they expected. Unfortunately, few shows have come close to the quality, entertainment, and educational value of Our World.

 

(This guide is a work in progress, and corrections/additions will be forthcoming)

1

Episode Title

Air Date

1

Summer Of 1969

Sep 25, 1986

2

Winds Of Change: Winter 1968

  

3

Up Against The Wall: August-October 1961

  

4

40 Days In Spring 1970

Oct 23, 1986

5

Halloween 1938

  

6

Speaking Out: Summer 1963

  

7

Duels In The Sun: Campaign 1952

  

8

All Shook Up: Autumn 1957

  

9

13 Days In October 1962

  

10

Period Of Adjustment: Fall 1946

  

11

One Day: April 12, 1961

  

12

Breaking Barriers: 1954

Nov 6, 1986

13

Worlds Apart: Summer 1939

  

14

A Crowded Room: Fall 1949

  

15

Autumn 1956

  

16

Between The Lines: Summer 1972

  

17

Pursuit Of Power: Fall 1973

  

18

Secrets & Surprises: The Fall of 1948

  

19

Inner Struggles: Fall 1975

  

20

Together and Apart: 1943

  

21

Cover Stories: May 1960

  

22

Liberation Summer: 1944

  

23

Long Winter, Short Spring of 1952-1953

  

24

Dangerous Assumptions Spring 1953

 

25

Fear and Frustration: Winter 1952

 

26

Gone With The Wind: The Making Of A Classic, 1939