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TelevisionWeek Executive Editor Tom Gilbert joins our roster of bloggers with this forum all about classic television, where anything from "Leave It to Beaver" to "Malcolm in the Middle" is fair game for discussion. Reunion specials, DVD releases of classic shows, vintage commercials -- anything that's ever been telecast is the hot topic here.

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Timeless TV


January 2008 Archives

Taking Stock of ‘Pioneers’

January 10, 2008 11:33 AM

Who else is watching PBS’ “Pioneers of Television” series? I caught the Jan. 2 opener on sitcoms and last night’s installment on late-night shows: essentially Steve Allen, Jack Paar and Johnny Carson. I thought both were pretty well done, and especially liked the Paar stuff and the vintage color footage from Carson’s version of “Tonight.”

The sitcom segment seemed a bit on the cheap side when it came to clips, however. For example, to represent “I Love Lucy” it used a lot of kinescope footage from the 1952 CBS special “Stars in the Eye” (celebrating the opening of Television City in Hollywood) and a couple of sketches featuring Jack Benny with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz shot on the sitcom’s set. Not a bad approximation of the show’s content, but in no way a prime example of what made it so popular; there are so many (no doubt expensive to run) classic moments that should have been cited instead. Plus, one of the reasons “I Love Lucy” was a pioneering show is that it was shot on film in order to deliver the highest-quality picture possible—and the kinescopes used here looked awful.

However, the footage from “The Andy Griffith Show” pilot from “Make Room for Daddy” was a nice touch. Here’s a bit from the rather overly worshipful segment on “The Honeymooners,” apparently a sentimental favorite of the producers.

Next up: Variety shows Jan. 16, then game shows Jan 23.