PBS Bringing Back Pioneers of Television

In January 2008, PBS broadcast a four-part documentary series called Pioneers of Television. The four episodes covered sitcoms, late-night, variety, and game shows. Over the past few weeks I’ve seen the series mentioned a few times here and there but just assumed PBS was preparing to repeat it. It wasn’t until someone e-mailed me an article from The Globe and Mail that I learned PBS is working on four new installments for January 2011, focusing on science fiction, crime drama, Westerns and local kids programming. Kelsey Grammer will narrate.

On August 4th, as part of the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour, a panel comprised of Nichelle Nichols, Martin Landau, Linda Evans, Robert Conrad and Mike Connors gathered to discuss their television experiences. Read about the panel at USA Today, The Vancouver Sun and the aforementioned Globe and Mail article. Pictures can be found here. The official Pioneers of Television Facebook page can be found here.

3 Replies to “PBS Bringing Back Pioneers of Television”

  1. I can only hope the producers have a bigger budget (and have more clearance rights) in order to feature more {and better} material in the next four “chapters”. As a whole, the first four were not that impressive, to me- for example, in the first hour, they virtually depended upon CBS/Paramount/Viacom for excerpts from their sitcom library [especially the “public domain” episodes of “THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW” and ‘THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW”], and avoided paying music clearance rights to use the actual themes featured in those series. As for the hour involving game shows, what can you say about someone recreating the opening of “JEOPARDY!”, “THE NEWLYWED GAME” and “THE DATING GAME” simply because they couldn’t get the rights- or AFFORD them- from Sony Pictures Television to use the actual footage from those shows? They were damn lucky to have access to Shokus Video’s P.D. material on “TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES”, “PLAY YOUR HUNCH” and “THE PRICE IS RIGHT”….

  2. The “Late Night” chapter was also a disgrace. Clips of Johnny Carson were taken from PD episodes of “The Jack Benny Program”; supposed clips of Joey Bishop’s ABC talk show were actually culled from his NBC sitcom; Jack Paar’s “Tonight Show” clips were actually taken from his NBC prime time series etc. As I recall, the only featured performer who’s clips were actually lifted from an late night talk show were Merv Girffin’s…and then they were just lifted from the DVD release of Griffin’s highlights. It was a total misrepresentation.

  3. As I’ve said, ‘Jeff’, the producers of this series did NOT have the money or legal clearance to use excerpts from more established shows and stars [if they HAD, certainly the “Late Night” segment would have been a better presentation]. They had to “make do” with what they were able to get. They were clever…but not clever enough. Besides, just about everyone automatically assumes “THE JACK PAAR PROGRAM” AND “THE JACK PAAR SHOW” are the same. You wanna know how you can tell the difference? If Paar and his guests are sitting opposite each other in swivel chairs with floor mikes in front of them, THAT’S the 1962-’65 Friday night prime-time show. If they’re seated at the traditiional desk and sofa, THEN it’s his original 1957-’62 late-night show.

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