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What TV Series was Ahead of its Time and it took other series 10-20-30-40 years to catch up?

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Showing 1-25 of 109 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 1, 2011 6:39:45 PM PDT
Green Meanie says:
What TV Series was ahead of its time in concept or innovation but it took other series 10-20-30-40 or more years to catch up?Sometimes a TV series is so far ahead that the TV audience isn't ready for it. I can think of a few:

1.The Adventures of Superman-filming in color when Black and White TV was all that was available.
2.I Love Lucy- Filming on Film instead of Video Tape.
3.Star Trek- Equality among the races.

Posted on May 1, 2011 7:46:04 PM PDT
The Adventures of Superman wasn't alone. The Cisco Kid and Season one of Science Fiction Theatre were two other 1950s Series also filmed in Color. Color TV Sets were available, but as with nearly all cases of New Technology, they were PROHIBITIVELY Expensive. (I heard New Cars were Cheaper!) It wasn't until the 1960s that the prices came down, making them more affordable.

Posted on May 1, 2011 8:49:15 PM PDT
I think The Twilight Zone, The Untouchables, All in the Family, and The Shield were ahead of their time.

Posted on May 2, 2011 12:00:45 AM PDT
Laust Cawz says:
I think "The Adventures Of Superman" began in B & W & then switched to color at some point, didn't it?

"The Twilight Zone" pretty much invented (or at least popularized for TV) sci-fi for adults. "Star Trek" took this a step further into real life conceptual possibilities (optimistic though it was). However, these shows are widely celebrated. What about:

"The Many Loves Of Dobie Gillis" (characters during its 1959-64 run included a grumpy father, his shamelessly girl-chasing teenage son & a beatnik played by future Gilligan Bob Denver). The show gives hints of "Married...With Children" & "Two & A Half Men" decades earlier.

"Real People" (1979-1984), which, if it didn't invent reality TV, certainly revolutionized it.
It wasn't a contest or game, though. Prime time on NBC & caused the cancellation of "Eight Is Enough".
A sample:

"Joe Bash", (1986? 87?), A half-hour comedy-drama cop show with no laugh track, where the cops walk a beat &, in one episode, a thief actually got away!! Aired for just a few episodes on ABC. Starred Peter Boyle. No clips or video available from what I've found.
The closest anyone's come to bringing back something like this is the Denis Leary show "The Job".

Posted on May 2, 2011 3:37:34 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 2, 2011 3:39:59 AM PDT
The first two seasons of Superman were in black and white, the following two seasons were in color. Also they changed the Locomotive from a Steam Engine to a Diesel.

Posted on May 2, 2011 10:13:16 PM PDT
"I Love Lucy" was innovative because they used three movie cameras (creating the multi-camera setup)-- rather than the usual single-camera process that had been the standard in the TV industry previously. Video tape was not available in 1951 when "I Love Lucy" began airing. Taped shows began to air in the mid-fifties.

There were already TV shows being filmed with a single camera before "I Love Lucy"; Desilu added two more movie cameras in order to capture different angles and shots with less takes (and they also added a live studio audience to capture genuine reactions to the comedy antics).

Lucy's show was also important because the powers that be did not want her Cuban husband Desi Arnaz on the show, but she insisted. And she probably was the first major female TV sitcom character to wear pants. There are other 'firsts', but this isn't a thread about "I Love Lucy".

Some series that were ahead of their times:

Sesame Street
The Simpsons
The Ed Sullivan Show
Dark Shadows
Candid Camera
All in the Family
Upstairs, Downstairs
Three's Company
Star Trek
Your Show of Shows
Big Blue Marble
The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Northern Exposure
The Real World
The Golden Girls
An American Family
Six Feet Under

Posted on May 3, 2011 1:46:45 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 3, 2011 1:50:00 AM PDT
Laust Cawz says:
The tone of "Roseanne" was imitating "Married...With Children", but because "Married..." was on Fox, a brand new network with very poor TV reception, most people were not initially aware of the existence of both the new network & the new show. When "Roseanne" premiered on ABC about a year later, it got much more notice & got the credit for reshaping television & "Married..." was dismissed as a cheap copy, even though it had already been on for a season or two. "Married..." was also more balanced in its mix of male vs. female characters/perspectives, whereas "Roseanne" was centered on, well, Roseanne & had a more biased feminist perspective.

Also, speaking for myself, I never found Roseanne or her show funny or impressive, while "Married..." was still cracking me up 10 years later. In fairness, I freely admit that "Married..." was, more than anything, a live-action cartoon, while "Roseanne" may have reflected reality a little more closely. "Married..." was still the innovator, though (pre-dating even "The Simpsons" own show) &, in my opinion, much funnier. Ironically, the original idea for "Married..." (created by Michael G. Moye & Ron Leavitt) was to juxtapose the personalities, anecdotes & comedic attitudes of comics Roseanne & Sam Kinison ("Can you imagine if these two people were married & had to live with each other?"). They actually offered the roles to Sam & Roseanne, who turned them down.

Personally, I also think "Mary Tyler Moore" is tremendously over-rated (both her & the show). Contrary to popular belief, this was NOT the first single working woman on TV, or even in a sitcom. I think it's just perceived that way because the setting was a corporate office-type environment (newsroom). In any case, I just never thought it was funny or entertaining.

Single working women on TV before Mary Richards:

Julia Baker--nurse (Diahann Carroll on "Julia" 1968-70)
Agent 99--spy (Barbara Feldon on "Get Smart" 1965-68)--until Max & 99 got married
Julie Barnes--undercover cop (Peggy Lipton on "The Mod Squad" 1967-70)
Ann Marie--aspiring actress (Marlo Thomas on "That Girl" 1966-71)
Lt. Uhura--communications officer (Nichelle Nichols on "Star Trek" 1966-69)
Cinnamon Carter--secret agent (Barbara Bain on "Mission: Impossible!" 1966-69)
Liz McIntyre--teacher (Denise Nicholas on "Room 222" 1969-74)

"Dark Shadows" is an excellent choice. Today's fans of "Twilight" & "The Vampire Diaries" owe Dan Curtis big time, but probably never heard of him.

Posted on May 3, 2011 2:33:17 AM PDT
M. Whorton says:
Knight Rider
The Dukes of Hazzard
The A-Team

Still no show has matched them yet.

In reply to an earlier post on May 3, 2011 7:04:05 AM PDT
Hi, Laust Cawz,

I respect your opinions and value the input. I guess you're a "Married with Children" person and I'm a "Roseanne" person, lol. Since you wanted to compare, here's my take. "Married" seemed from the get-go to be sensational for the sake of it, and seemed crude and off color-- its goal, arguably. But that's just the point, so I missed the boat. ("The Simpsons" quickly won me over with its great mix of outlandish humor and satire and social commentary and pop culture references. Plus, the characters were just funny and likeable.)

"Married" did not seem innovative at all. Bickering married couple, obnoxious and fresh kids, perky/preppie neighbors. Nothing new there. They just upped the attitude, the sexuality, the double entendres, the verbal barbs. Even "The Simpsons" poked fun at this show, hinting that American audiences were guffawing broadly over the sound of a toilet flushing.

"Roseanne" (for me) died when the family won the lottery. Ugh. It just changed, and got poor. And the final episode seemed like some drug induced haze that betrayed the entire series, nastily. But, for those first several seasons (maybe seven) it was terrific. I still laugh at the reruns and the DVD's. The show could be hilarious and also handle touchy subjects like domestic abuse. And the production values and lighting were good; if the scene took place first thing in the morning, the set looked just like that ... other sitcoms didn't even care about such things.

Re: "The Mary Tyler Moore Show"
Again, lol, to each his own, respectfully. I know it's not the first working gal on TV or a in a sitcom; don't know why people assume that it was-- in the 1970's, hello. But I am very fond of the writing and the ensemble cast. Not over-rated for me. Always fun and enjoyable. It's not Mary that wins me over, it's Ted and Lou and Phyllis and Sue Ann, etc: the bunch of wackos in Mary's orbit. It wasn't the first sitcom featuring a single 'everywoman' as the lead, or probably not the first sitcom about the TV biz. It's just quality TV for my money. I can see how it might not live up to some expectations when fans praise it to the skies. That's a pity.

"Julia" is a great choice that you included.

In reply to an earlier post on May 3, 2011 8:11:51 AM PDT
In regards to reality TV, some actually credit "Candid Camera" as the first of its kind. Hmmm. . . Could be.

Posted on May 3, 2011 6:30:03 PM PDT
Laust Cawz says:
Hi, Baron Sardonicus.

So the Conners won the lottery?? I never knew that. Sounds like the kind of thing that might've been written off as just a dream a la "Newhart", "Dallas", etc.

There was a "Married..." episode in which a credit card gets issued in Buck's name (the dog) & the family takes full advantage of this. While I never really minded "Married,,,"'s toilet humor, it was never my favorite part of the show. I love Kelly's malaprops, Al's rants about the shoe store & tabloid news reporter "Miranda Veracruz DeLaJolla Cardinale" (who always shows up at the wrong [right?] time), among other things. Now that you mention it, the Bundy home usually did seem a little too clean (unless there was a specific joke coming up).

The earliest show I can think of where the house or apt. wasn't immaculate (or wasn't supposed to be) is "Laverne & Shirley"--they would often be sorting out the laundry, cleaning up, preparing for some special event, etc., while getting into their latest adventure. Definitely one of the funniest shows I've ever seen (until they moved to Hollywood--that sort of screwed things up).

Just as I think much more of "Laverne & Shirley" than its "spinner-off" "Happy Days", I also think more of "Daria" than I do of its "spinner-off", "Beavis & Butthead", though I think "B & B" suffers from the same reputation as "Married...", with people focusing mostly on the more toilet-oriented stuff & things (though, admittedly, there was even more of this on "B & B" than on "Married...") & sort of missing the satirical touches that would come up (like the boys worshiping a tough guy who bullies them). There was more subtext in this show than I think people realize.

Even so, "Daria" is even better & funnier. My favorite "Daria" line--she says to someone who urges her to smile, "I don't like to smile unless I have a reason." My sentiments exactly.

In reply to an earlier post on May 3, 2011 8:22:33 PM PDT
The series "Laverne and Shirley" could be extremely funny when it was in top form. The two leads had good chemistry/dynamic. I fondly remember the time they needed cash and became guineau pigs for experiments, then went to a ritzy cocktail party at the Hotel Fister. Or when Laverne was attacked by the robot in the toy shop. Or when the gals worked at the diner ("Betty, please..."):

I prefer L&S to its 'mother', "Happy Days" ... which was inspired heavily by George Lucas' coming of age film "American Graffiti". Fonzie was very popular, even though the guy was maybe five foot four, lol. "Happy Days" (like "The Odd Couple") strangely switched from single-camera filming technique to multi-camera, studio audience filming. It gave such a different flavor to the seasons when you compare. The single camera result is much more intimate and movie-like. The studio audience filmings have to be much broader and more physical; way less subtle.

I have mixed feelings about both techniques. I like the single-camera way because you get more close to the actors and the set (see season one of "The Odd Couple", all of "Malcolm in the Middle", etc). But then you have the added canned laughter which gets annoying and repetitive (see "The Andy Griffith Show", "The Brady Bunch", etc). The multi-camera, studio audience technique gives real reactions from a studio full of onlookers, but it's more like a stage play than a film (see "All in the Family"). So that can be good or bad.

But I'm going off on a tangent. Before I forget: I wanted to mention one "Married with Children" joke that left me in stitches. (This is from long ago but the line of dialogue is exactly as broadcast.) Peg is determined to cook a meal herself. She is reading the stuffing package and then pauses and says to herself in a puzzled tone, "What's a degree?"

Posted on May 3, 2011 8:29:27 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 3, 2011 8:30:28 PM PDT
PS: Luckily now canned laughter is a thing of the past, and single-camera sitcoms have none of that nonsense ("The Office", "30 Rock", etc have no prerecorded laughs, thankfully). You can actually hear every joke-- unless there's no pause between a very funny line and the next line spoken. Writers and directors should take a lesson from Billy Wilder. He had Jack Lemmon shaking maracas in a scene from "Some Like it Hot" after every funny line, because he foresaw the audience laughing when the next line was spoken. So there are these little pauses with Jack shaking those things before the next line of dialogue occurs. Pretty smart. The audience wins.

Posted on May 3, 2011 9:07:47 PM PDT
Laust Cawz says:
I guess I'd forgotten about that particular "L & S" episode. What a classic! Thanx.

It seems like most of my favorites are from the 3rd season--The Horse Show, The Shotz Talent Show with Lenny & the Squigtone's "Night After Night"

& lots of others. The diner episode must be from another season. I've heard that there was endless tension & arguing on the set. Like Edmund Gwenn said on his deathbed, "Dying Is easy. Comedy is hard."

For me, "Happy Days" became a very different sort of show after it went to a studio audience format, just because there were virtually no more exterior locations anymore, which was sort of essential to the setting of the show (the exterior of "Arnold's Drive-In", a term which became irrelevant when everything was moved inside, scenes outside the school, Fonzie on his motorcycle outdoors, etc.).

To be honest, I think I only discovered the show after it had made the transition, but that might just be because it was promoted more. I don't think I'd been aware of it. I still don't actually think most of those early episodes are very good, though they definitely have more of an authentic '50s feel, but a few are stunning, the best one, I think, being "The Big Money".

I actually had never noticed very much about "The Odd Couple"'s transition, I guess because almost all the scenes in that show were interiors, anyway.

In reply to an earlier post on May 3, 2011 9:58:14 PM PDT
You're so right about the exterior location filming on early "Happy Days" episodes; I'd forgotten that. There were actually scenarios of the characters in cars, or walking outside a location, etc. I recall the Halloween party (haunted house) episode where Richie is unsure about going into the creepy house ... You could not get that effective pacing and mood and tone in a studio audience setup, no way.

I prefer the single-camera episodes, honestly. Just something about that technique that's more my cup of tea. But when I first saw the show (I had to be around ten) I had no clue why some early episodes seemed different, more quiet and thoughtful and leisurely, compared to later ones-- when the crowd cheered whenever Fonzie entered.

And while Winkler was charismatic as The Fonz, frankly that character was not enough to keep my interest. Very cliche, very one-dimensional, very not likeable somehow. No offense to fans. I just preferred the domestic comedy of the Cunningham family and their friends Ralph and Potsie. Whatever became of Chuck Cunningham, I wonder. ;)

Season one of "The Odd Couple" is also more enjoyable for me for the intimacy of the single camera format; it's like a little movie. But yet I also enjoy the broader physical comedy that the studio audience format created. I like "The Odd Couple" a lot. When I was in high school and college it was on TV every day or evening on a local channel (we took it for granted), and then it seemed to disappear. And now apparently most of the DVD season releases have been butchered because the studio had to edit out tons of music references/performances/mentions... even if it meant cutting out key sequences that people loved. Ridiculous.

Sorry to ramble.

Posted on May 3, 2011 11:09:57 PM PDT
I just recently watched the whole serries of Man From U.N.C.L.E. they really did a lot of ciminatophgry that may had been jused in movies but they were the first to do them in tv. The way they would slide the frame of the picture across the screen to change to different locations was just new to tv and very effective.

Posted on May 3, 2011 11:20:23 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 3, 2011 11:21:14 PM PDT
Laust Cawz says:
Baron Sardonicus--

So "'The Odd Couple':The COMPLETE First Season" (Complete Second Season, Complete Third, etc. is misleading...)!!!

As a kid, I loved "Happy Days", long after it (along with the Fonz) "jumped the shark". I guess it just hasn't aged very well. "Married..." has included sly in-jokes where Jefferson D'arcy (Ted McGinley) has adamantly denied ever having been "that guy on 'Happy Days'" or "that guy on 'The Love Boat'".

Re: "The Odd Couple"
Did you know about this record?

Also, I don't know if they're still in the copies that are available, but this book

(published following Tony Randall's death), originally included a DVD of "Odd Couple" bloopers.

In reply to an earlier post on May 4, 2011 7:15:01 AM PDT
Laust Cawz,

Thanks so much for those links. That record must be a riot; the Amazon reviewer mentioned that Klugman and Randall cover pop tunes from that time, like "You're So Vain".

As for the DVD sets, I skimmed over several reviews of different seasons, and it seems that possibly Season Two somehow did not get trimmed like the others did. Don't know why. But that series had so many musical references, it would be sinful to remove them. I mean, Felix alone incorporating part of a song into his action, that was part of the fun. "In some secluded rendezvous ...."

Posted on May 4, 2011 1:33:25 PM PDT
Laust Cawz says:
That just brought to mind the Spike Jones version of "Cocktails For Two". Somewhere I have a cassette copy of "Dinner Music For People Who Aren't Very Hungry", which features, among other things, "Flight Of the Bumble Bee", played on trombone!!

"You're So Vain" is the token rock song on the "Odd Couple" album. To this day, every time I hear Carly Simon's version, I'm tempted to chime in with Felix's indignant commentary: "Saratoga rhymes with Nova Scotia??" (among a lot of other stuff).

The other songs are showtunes, standards & such ("InchWorm", "Brush Up Your Shakespeare", etc.). There's also "The Odd Couple Opera".

In reply to an earlier post on May 4, 2011 7:54:13 PM PDT
Re: You're So Vain

Some of the worst lyrics ever put to a song.

Posted on May 4, 2011 8:10:07 PM PDT
Laust Cawz says:
I think "Haven't Got Time For the Pain" is worse.

Posted on May 4, 2011 8:12:04 PM PDT
Laust Cawz says:
Getting back to the topic, someone else who was way ahead of the curve:

Ernie Kovacs

In reply to an earlier post on May 4, 2011 8:28:40 PM PDT
Kovacs, definitely! What imagination. I love watching his delightful and clever antics. Good call there.

In reply to an earlier post on May 6, 2011 3:25:23 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on May 7, 2011 8:00:55 AM PDT]

Posted on May 6, 2011 3:35:28 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on May 7, 2011 8:01:03 AM PDT]
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