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A documentary series focusing on the legends that helped launch TV. Using never-before-seen images and showcasing timeless clips, the series transports viewers behind the scenes for a revealing look at television's early years.
|S01E01||Sitcoms||02/01/2008||This episode focuses on the five key sitcoms that shaped the genre: ‘I Love Lucy’, ‘The Honeymooners’, ‘Make Room for Daddy’, ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ and ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’. The last remaining Honeymooner, Joyce Randolph, speaks candidly about Jackie Gleason's distinctive personality. "The two were just magic together. I don't think that Jackie would have been as great without Art," Randolph says. Similarly, Marlo Thomas offers fascinating insights about her father Danny and the genesis of his ‘Make Room for Daddy’ sitcom: "My dad used to travel so much, and my mother hated to sleep alone. So we would take turns sleeping in my mother's big huge bed. And we'd bring our toys and our things in there, and then when my dad was about to come home she'd say, 'Make room for daddy.' And we would. And so we said that so much that my father thought that that was a great premise for a show...the idea of making room for this figure that you love that leaves all the time. So that show was pretty much our childhood." Andy Griffith typically avoids TV interviews, but Pioneers of Television producer Steve Boettcher persuaded Griffith to sit for an extended interview—the result is a rare inside look at the people and techniques that made Griffith's show work. The episode also includes interviews with both Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke, who recount their years together on the breakthrough ‘Dick Van Dyke Show’.|
|S01E02||Late Night||09/01/2008||The distinct contributions and unique personalities of Steve Allen, Jack Paar and Johnny Carson headline this episode. "Johnny always wanted you to do well," Jay Leno recalls, "you'd hear him laughing in the corner with Ed, or he'd poke Ed, or he'd hit the table. And of course, this was a cue to the audience that you were accepted." This episode features many of the most important figures to emerge on the late-night scene. Merv Griffin gives his last interview before passing away, and Regis Philbin offers revelations about his years as a late night sidekick to Joey Bishop. Dick Cavett and Arsenio Hall provide insight into how their shows broadened the late-night audience. For the first time, Sigourney Weaver offers personal details about her father, Pat, inventor of Tonight and one of the most visionary TV executives ever.|
|S01E03||Variety||16/01/2008||This episode begins with Ed Sullivan's ‘Toast of the Town and Milton Berle's ‘Texaco Star Theater, and progresses through ‘The Carol Burnett Show, ‘Smothers Brothers and ‘Laugh-In’, among others. Tim Conway and Jonathan Winters tell hilarious stories about their variety show years, and Tommy Smothers reveals new details about the behind-the-scenes story of his own landmark show. Pat Boone offers a compelling first-hand account of the racist policies that made it difficult for him to book African American guests. In the same vein, Tony Orlando reveals the back-story behind his role as the first Hispanic host of a variety series. Additionally, this episode includes fresh bites from earlier interviews with Milton Berle, Red Skelton and Sid Caesar—and there's no shortage of great clips. Standouts include Andy Williams singing "Moon River" and Flip Wilson's Geraldine. As Arsenio Hall says, "You could not dislike Flip Wilson. There was a warmth about him. And he was brilliant the way he created characters; and the characters had lives of their own. We knew about Geraldine's boyfriend and how jealous he was—and those things brought that character to life."|
|S01E04||Game Shows||23/01/2008||This episode traces one of broadcasting's strongest genres, from its nascent beginnings in radio through its heyday in the late '60s. Bob Barker talks about his earliest work, and Merv Griffin details the "eureka" moments that led to the creation of ‘Jeopardy’ and ‘Wheel of Fortune’: "The family took us on these long, boring vacations that we didn't want to go on. We'd rather stay home in the summer and play with the kids on the block. They would take us to see the bats fly out of some caves or something. I didn't want to see that. So we would sit in the back of the car and play Hangman. And years later, I remembered it, and I thought, I wonder if that could be a game show." Monty Hall recounts his compelling rags-to-riches story, and Betty White remembers her role as the first female emcee. In addition, this episode features rare backstage footage of ‘The Price is Right’ filmed the very day Bob Barker announced his retirement. Clips for this episode are wide-ranging, and include Phyllis Diller's first TV appearance as a painfully shy contestant on Groucho Marx's ‘You Bet Your Life’.|
|S02E01||Science Fiction||18/01/2011||Pioneers of science-fiction TV including Gene Roddenberry, Rod Serling, Irwin Allen (‘Lost in Space’), William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Nichelle Nichols and other science-fiction stars.|
|S02E02||Westerns||25/01/2011||TV Western pioneers, including Fess Parker (Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett), James Garner, Linda Evans, Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Conrad and James Arness.|
|S02E03||Crime Dramas||01/02/2011||Pioneers of TV crime dramas, including Jack Webb (‘Dragnet’), Desi Arnaz (‘The Untouchables’), Bruce Geller (‘Mannix’ and ‘Mission: Impossible’), Bill Cosby, Angie Dickinson, Barbara Bain, Martin Landau, James Garner and Stephen J. Cannell.|
|S02E04||Local Kids' TV||08/02/2011||Pioneers of local kids' TV including Willard Scott, William Shatner, Stan Freberg, Jim Henson, Larry Harmon (‘Bozo’) and Nancy Claster (‘Romper Room’).|
|S03E01||Funny Ladies||15/01/2013||The Season 3 premiere spotlights female comedians, including stand-ups Phyllis Diller and Joan Rivers, and such sitcom stars as Lucille Ball, Marla Gibbs, Mary Tyler Moore and Betty White. Also: Carol Burnett shares stories of her variety show. Included: remarks from Margaret Cho and Tina Fey.|
|S03E02||Primetime Soaps||22/01/2013||Recalling the prime-time soaps of the 1970s and '80s, including ‘Dallas’, ‘Dynasty’, and ‘Knots Landing’, as well as their antecedent ‘Peyton Place’ (1964–69). Included: details about the "Who Shot J.R.?" episode of ‘Dallas’; stories about the personalities who helped shape the shows. Among the notables interviewed: Patrick Duffy, Linda Gray and Larry Hagman of ‘Dallas’; Diahann Carroll, Joan Collins, Linda Evans of ‘Dynasty’; Michele Lee, Donna Mills and Joan Van Ark of ‘Knots Landing’.|
|S03E03||Superheroes||29/01/2013||Remembering the superhero TV shows of bygone eras, including ‘Superman’ (1950s); ‘Batman’ (1960s); ‘Wonder Woman’ and ‘The Incredible Hulk’ (1970s); and ‘The Greatest American Hero’ (1980). Included: remarks from Adam West, Burt Ward and Julie Newmar of ‘Batman’; Lynda Carter of ‘Wonder Woman’; Lou Ferrigno of ‘The Incredible Hulk’; and William Katt and Robert Culp of ‘The Greatest American Hero’.|
|S03E04||Miniseries||05/02/2013||Beginning in the mid-1970s, miniseries based on novels captivated television audiences like never before. Networks poured money into the productions and reached huge numbers of viewers around the world. The key to these miniseries’ success are beloved characters that survive twists and turns that unfold over decades, including struggles to be accepted, whether in a loving relationship or within society. ‘Roots’, based on Alex Haley’s novel, was shown over eight consecutive nights in 1977 and attracted more viewers than any other television drama before. ‘Roots’ was a cultural landmark that had a profound effect, shifting opinions and revealing the truth about the African-American experience of slavery. In ‘Rich Man, Poor Man’ (1976), two starkly different brothers seek acceptance from their rough-edged immigrant father as they also build their lives in America, from post-World War II through the 1960s. Set in Australia between 1915 and 1969, ‘The Thorn Birds’ (1983) saga centers on a handsome priest’s devotion to both God and love of a woman.|
|S03E05||Carol Burnett and the Funny Ladies||09/04/2013||A repackaged/re-airing of the first season 3 episode, "Funny Ladies", with additional footage focusing on Carol Burnett.|
|S00E01||Extended Interviews||00/00/0000||Insider Stories from Pioneers of Television.|
|S00E02||Carol Burnett and the Funny Ladies||09/04/2013||A repackaged/re-airing of the first season 3 episode, "Funny Ladies", with additional footage focusing on Carol Burnett.|
|S00E03||Robin Williams Remembered||09/09/2014||This tribute features one of Robin Williams' last full-length interviews, including never-before-seen comments on his life and comedic and dramatic work, as well as tributes by those who knew and worked with him.|