Pioneers of Television, the PBS documentary series exploring the history and early days of television, will return for a third season in January 2013. Ryan Seacrest will narrate the four new episodes, replacing Kelsey Grammer. The first season aired in January 2008 and the second season in January 2011. Here are descriptions of the new episodes:
Tuesday, January 15, 2013, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET
“Dallas” and “Dynasty” kicked off the nighttime soap frenzy in the late 1970s, a phenomenon that continued through the last season of “Knots Landing” in 1993. The episode offers surprising new details about the legendary “Who Shot J.R.” episode of Dallas, and reveals the backstage personalities that shaped “Dynasty” and “Knots Landing.” Interviewees in this episode include Larry Hagman, Joan Collins, Linda Evans, Diahann Carroll, Linda Gray, Patrick Duffy, Michele Lee, Joan Van Ark and Donna Mills.
Tuesday, January 22, 2013, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET
This episode begins with the first standup comediennes to appear on television, including Joan Rivers and the late Phyllis Diller–whose final interview was for this episode. “Funny Ladies” also looks at Lucille Ball’s breakthrough on “I Love Lucy” and the sitcom stars who followed, including Mary Tyler Moore, Betty White and Marla Gibbs. And television’s most beloved variety star Carol Burnett, reveals the behind-the-scenes stories of her long running show. The episode also includes interviews with contemporary actresses Tina Fey and Margaret Cho.
Tuesday, January 29, 2013, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET
“Superheroes” crosses many eras: “Superman” in the 1950s, “Batman” in the ’60s, “Wonder Woman” and “The Incredible Hulk” in the ’70s and “The Greatest American Hero” in the ’80s. The episode features in-depth interviews with Adam West, Burt Ward, Julie Newmar, Lynda Carter, Lou Ferrigno, William Katt and others. It also includes comments from Robert Culp about his show “The Greatest American Hero,” recorded just days before he passed away.
Tuesday, February 5, 2013, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET
Miniseries still rank among the top-rated programs in television history. “Roots” was the biggest — interviewees about that groundbreaking series include stars LeVar Burton, Louis Gossett Jr., Leslie Uggams, Ben Vereen, John Amos, Georg Stanford Brown and Ed Asner. This episode also considers the very first miniseries, “Rich Man, Poor Man” as stars Peter Strauss and Susan Blakely offer fresh insights. All of the key stars from the landmark miniseries “The Thorn Birds” (the most-watched romance) provide surprising commentary about the romance seen by more viewers than any other in TV history. These new interviews with Richard Chamberlain, Rachel Ward and Bryan Brown mark the 30th anniversary of one of television’s biggest events.
The official PBS website for the series can be found here, although it has yet to be updated with information on the upcoming third season.