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Pioneers of Primetime

3.9 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Pioneers of Primetime is a tribute to the icons of early television and an entertaining retrospective on the golden age of television comedy. Six years in the making, the program features exclusive in-depth interviews with an unprecedented collection of TV's early stars: Milton Berle, Red Skelton, Bob Hope, Sid Caesar, Steve Allen, Morey Amsterdam, Rose Marie, Donald O'Connor, Sammy Davis Jr., Buddy Ebsen, and many others. Plus the program features a treasure trove of hilarious clips - lost gems of television gold - many unseen for five decades. It's all artfully woven together into a fascinating look at the foundation of American entertainment.

Special Features

  • Extended interviews with the Pioneers of Primetime

Product Details

  • Format: DVD
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: PDX
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000AXWHIU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #171,041 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
The television documentary Pioneers of Primetime informs the audience about emergence of primetime broadcasting and its founders. These pioneers were characters such as Steve Allen, Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Sammy Davis Jr., Buddy Ebsen, Bob Hope, Rose Marie, Donald O'Connor, and Red Skelton who helped shape what television is today.

The 1930s was the decade of the radio, as it had a large number of celebrities performing audio theatrical plays and comedies. However, the radio began to fade out of its stardom when the television seized its grip of the American population through shows such as Red Skelton Revue, Love Lucy, and The Milton Berle Show. These shows spread the word of the television, as these new TV stars awakened the curiosity within millions of Americans. Their performances, simply put, vastly increased the television sales, as countless people had the desire to experience these shows.

With the increasing attention for television, the new market demanded more talent, which they drew from the radio programs and vaudeville shows. These groundbreakers in network televisions were threading on never before explored territory, as they simply brought their talents and skills to the television world. They prepared in the same manner while their audience grew from what possible on stage. In addition, the ability to have moving images together with the sound pushed radio aside while ever-growing dedicated viewers sat down in front of their small televisions with TV dinners.

It was a time before Teleprompters and taped programming. These were the days when TV comedians and stars were under the gun of live television during each and every episode.
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As the other reviews detail, this is a basic(VERY basic) overview of a few of the vaudevillians that started the TV medium: Milton Berle, Red Skelton, Jack Benny, and Bob Hope. All were part of the radio medium, as well, which is discussed about as much as television in this documentary (already pushing its main subject to the side a bit). Others who primarily came from film included Jackie Gleason, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz - all, again, barely touched on here. Much historical information is missing, like Gleason's variety show that introduced "The Honeymooners", which is the only thing discussed here on him (yet, the original show played on TV for years, so long that when the latter show debuted on its own, it was old hat at the time & didn't last, believe it or not). Interviews with these heavyweight powerhouses of the early years sadly only primarily include Berle and Skelton, with a few statements from Hope. Sid Caesar, who is one of the few to have actually made it exclusively through the TV medium, is also interviewed(although very little, too). Others from the early years of TV who are interviewed include Buddy Ebsen (who talks about his brother/sister act from VAUDEVILLE), Sammy Davis Jr (who talks about the post-VAUDEVILLE circuit), Donald O'Connor (who seems to be more of a VAUDEVILLE historian here than anything else), Rose Marie (who talks about being a child of VAUDEVILLE), and Steve Allen (who discusses his VAUDEVILLE mother and others from the medium). As you can probably tell from all this, "Pioneers of Prime Time" is somewhat of a misleading title. "Vaudeo: From Vaudeville to TV" would have been a more realistic one. The bonus special features on the DVD are the "extended" interviews, which are extremely non-illuminating and worthless, as well, except for the Skelton one ...Read more ›
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And I was born 6 August 1949. I enjoyed the hell out of this program.
TV -- as we know it -- was born in 1939: A World Fair somewhere, probably
New York. Because of WWII, Atomic Bombs, and Aliens being hidden in New
Mexico, it wasn't popularized until 1949.
If you don't care about the '30s, '40s. and '50s, you certainly won't be
interested in THIS either.
If so, enjoy!
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I wish every kid would see videos like this so they would know where the comedy of today comes from and why, in many ways, the talent is not what it once was. I find it sad that nearly all of the people in this video have since passed on, but what a great way to remember them. I would have paid extra if they had included an hour or 2 of the actual interviews with the stars. As good as the edited documentary is, the source material must have been a lot of fun as well.

Buy it, watch it with your kids and discuss what TV and Radio (Vaudeville) comedy meant to people during the Depression and WWII.
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The only problem with PIONEERS OF PRIMETIME is that it's too short. As difficult as it must have been for the producers to have chosen from thousands of hours of tape, it still remains a pity that this documentary couldn't have been two hours instead of one.

I am too young to remember most of the performers featured here, but seeing these highlights of the moments that made them famous was just like listening to the older generation of my own family reminiscing about their favorites.

As such, PIONEERS OF PRIMETIME is both an education and an evocative depiction of an earlier era.

This feature makes the point that only five or six performers crossed successfully from vaudeville in the earliest decades of the 20th century, through the "radio days" and on to television, which they created as much as they succeeded in as stars.

Bob Hope, Burns & Allen, Milton Berle, Jack Benny, Red Skelton and one or two others make up this small group.

Several other stars were involved primarily in the "Golden Days" of television, such as Lucy & Desi and Sid Caesar.

So many viewers will find PIONEERS OF PRIMETIME to be fascinating viewing: those with an interest in the formation of the medium of television, those who enjoy comedy, those who would like to relive the early days of the 20th century. For anyone who falls into these categories, this video should not be missed.
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