From Famous Classic Tales:
Australia's Air Programs International presented the lone new episode of Famous Classic Tales for the 1974-5 season on New Year's Day 1975 with a slightly loose adaptation of Herman Melville's classic, Moby Dick. I think CBS scheduled this in between their coverage of the Tournament of Roses Parade (which they at the time shared with NBC) and the Cotton Bowl, then a New Year's Day tradition for the network.
Melville's tale mixed the Bible with other literary classics, such as the works of William Shakespeare. Follow along, and you'll see what I mean.
I think the ancillary characters at the start of the show were meant to set the stage, rather than go with Ishmael's narration from the start. For good or bad is up to you.