Pioneers of Television returns to PBS later this month with four new episodes that based on the descriptions won’t have much to do with the true pioneers of television. That’s par for the course for this series, which has always focused more on well-known, popular television shows like I Love Lucy, Star Trek and Bonanza. This time around, it looks like many of the shows being discussed are from the 1980s and 1990s. Hardly what I’d called pioneering.
Here are descriptions and air dates for the new episodes:
“Standup to Sitcom”
Tuesday, April 15, 2014 at 8PM ET
This star-packed premiere episode features fresh interviews with Jerry Seinfeld, Roseanne Barr, Tim Allen, Ray Romano and Bob Newhart. The program reveals how America’s top standup comics made the transition from the comedy stage to the sitcom form. It includes dozens of clips from Seinfeld, Home Improvement, Everybody Loves Raymond, Roseanne and more.
“Doctors and Nurses”
Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 at 8PM ET
From George Clooney on ER to Richard Chamberlain on Dr. Kildare, television’s long love affair with doctors and nurses shows no signs of letting up. Noah Wyle, Anthony Edwards, Gloria Reuben and Eriq LaSalle open up about the secrets of ER; Howie Mandel, Ed Begley, Jr. and Christina Pickles revisit St. Elsewhere. The episode features the final interview with Chad Everett of Medical Center before his death in 2012.
Tuesday, April 29th, 2014 at 8PM ET
This episode traces the story of people of color on American television — including the mid-1960s breakthroughs of African Americans Diahann Carroll (Julia) and Bill Cosby (I Spy). Latino landmarks range from I Love Lucy with Desi Arnaz to Miami Vice with Edward James Olmos. Also featured are Asian Americans such as George Takei (Star Trek), who details the childhood years he spent in a Japanese-American internment camp.
Tuesday, May 6, 2014 at 8PM ET
This episode peeks behind the curtain to reveal the techniques of America’s favorite comedic actors. The program features the manic improvisational style of Robin Williams and his comic predecessor, Jonathan Winters. Their style is a fascinating contrast to Tina Fey, who explains her measured, highly prepared approach. The episode also highlights the all-time #1 Emmy Award winner for comedy acting: Cloris Leachman.
The official website for Pioneers of Television can be found here but it hasn’t been updated yet with information on Season Four.
I’ll probably watch Season Four but won’t be reviewing it here at the Television Obscurities blog.