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Pioneers of Television

4.6 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Nearly 100 stars from television's formative years bring their stories to PBS in a revealing documentary series, PIONEERS OF TELEVISION. Featuring sitcoms, late-night, variety and game shows -- the film melds compelling new HD interviews with archival clips to offer a fresh take on television's first celebrities, with fascinating stories, never-before-seen images and timeless clips that still entertain decades later.

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Until television history gets the Ken Burns treatment (preferably by Ken Burns), this four-part PBS pledge-bait documentary series should warm the nostalgic cockles of Baby Boomers' TV-lovin' hearts. A generous sampling of clips and interviews with some of TV Land's most beloved personalities fondly and reverently recall television's golden age and the pantheon of mold-breakers and template setters. "Late Night" confers King status on Johnny Carson, but it does pay tribute to his trailblazing predecessors, Steve Allen, with his unpredictable blend of wit and silliness, and Jack Paar, equally unpredictable (he once quit his show on the air after a tiff with network censors), who mastered the art of conversation. "Sitcoms" spotlights five groundbreaking series, The Honeymooners, Make Room for Daddy, I Love Lucy, The Andy Griffith Show, and The Dick Van Dyke Show. "Variety" begins with The Ed Sullivan Show and proceeds through a host of entertainers who fronted their own shows, culminating in the gold standard, The Carol Burnett Show. "Game Show" is a winner with hilarious, rarely seen clips of classic game show moments (it's always a naughty delight to hear Paul Lynde's Hollywood Squares zingers).

There will be quibbles. Ernie Kovacs is but one glaring and bewildering omission, and icons such as Carol Burnett are missing in action. The series often blurs the line between being a pioneer and merely popular. But talking heads don't come any more entertaining than Tim Conway, Barbara Eden, Andy Griffith, Mary Tyler Moore, Dick Van Dyke, Betty White, Jay Leno, Jim Nabors, Marlo Thomas (talking about her father, Danny, but herself something of a pioneer), Joyce "Trixie" Randolph, Dick Cavett, Regis Philbin, and Tony Orlando (Tony Orlando?). Pioneers breaks little new ground. Most of these stories have been told better elsewhere, and certainly less clichéd ("The winds of ambition were blowing Johnny westward"). But there is much to treasure in the well-chosen clips, including Johnny Carson's earliest talk- and game-show gigs, Carl Reiner's failed pilot, Head of the Family, which became The Dick Van Dyke Show, and an early Honeymooners clip with Pert Kelton as Alice. There are still pioneers breaking new ground, but this welcome series is a reminder of those who paved the way. And if nothing else, in this era of reality television, it's a great escape to a bygone era. --Donald Liebenson


Special Features

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Product Details

  • Format: DVD
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: PDX
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000XCZGWC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #77,750 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Pioneers of Television" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By T=H=E (WAS # 229[once upon a time in an Amazon...far...far away!]) Time-Traveller TOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 7, 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This four (4)episode collection is the best way to get the following episodes on one,
single, close-captioned, Stereo, 220 minute DVD.

They are:
*==> LATE NIGHT --- Steve Allan; Jack Parr; Johnny Carson; Merv Griffin & Dick Cavett

*==> SITCOMS --- I LOVE LUCY; HONEYMOONERS; THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW; DICK VAN DYKE SHOW,
and many others.

*==> GAME SHOWS --- Radio through television.

*==> VARIETY SHOWS --- Ed Sullivan; Milton Berle; Sid Caesar; Carol Burnett; Smothers
Brothers and Laugh-in, among others.

AN excellent show, and highly recommended is the companion title, Season TWO
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As a child of the 60's, growing up watching television, I found this DVD to be very entertaining and informative. Lot's of trivia in this progam. I would recommend it to anyone under 50 for a better understanding of what good television was, and the people who made it.
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You'll love this because who doesn't love to sit back and think, "yeah - I remember that!"??? And of course, in true PBS style, it's fantastically interesting with outstanding footage, killer interviews, and lots of neat facts. While we watched it we were constantly on our phones looking up the stars (are they still alive? when did they die? etc.) - so our experience was practically interactive. Love it. :) Will be using this in my mass media class - who knew classroom materials could be such a guilty pleasure!
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This is not history for me, rather many of these programs were what I watched when I was a kid. There are four roughly one hour programs. There is a narrative line for each program. There are many excerpts. Given the age of the programs and how they were preserved the image quality is excellent. It was great to relive many of these and the DVD will prove interesting for those with an interest in televison history.
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Yes, I have been around long enough to see many of these show from the beginning, or at least early reruns. These compilation descriptions of the early years of tv is a great historical time line of the growth and creative genious explaining the series of today. It also gives you a trip down memory lane of your favorite actors when they were at their best or just starting out. Giving you floods of memories or introductions to actors or tv shows you have only heard about.
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Purchased this title for its reference to Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. Enjoyed it immensely and the other material was just icing on the cake. Well worth it.
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This series is great. You get a look in to how this started and the ones his allows it. The history is great and so are the the interviews.
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I first saw this on PBS and bought it as a gift for my sister. Great comic clips of the Masters of Comedy in TV. The "Pioneers"
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