Pioneers of Television
The four-part series examines the people who left their imprint on sitcoms, late-night, variety and game shows in the early days of the medium. The program features interviews with legendary stars, including Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore, Art Linkletter, Andy Griffith, Betty White, Phyllis Diller, Jim Nabors, Marlo Thomas, Jonathan Winters, Ed McMahon and Merv Griffin. Using never-before-seen images and showcasing timeless clips, the documentary series examines the entertainers that provided the classic scenes that still amuse us today.
Breaking Barriers (#403) Duration: 56:46 STEREO TVPG (Secondary audio: none)
This episode traces the story of people of color on American television - including the mid-1960s breakthroughs of African Americans Diahann Carroll ("Julia") and Bill Cosby ("I Spy"). Latino landmarks range from "I Love Lucy" with Desi Arnaz to "Miami Vice" with Edward James Olmos. Also featured are Asian-Americans like George Takei ("Star Trek"), who details his youth spent in a Japanese internment camp.
Acting Funny (#404) Duration: 56:46 STEREO TVPG (Secondary audio: none)
This episode peeks behind the curtain to reveal the backstage techniques of America's favorite comedic actors. The program features the manic improvisational style of Robin Williams, along with his comic predecessor Jonathan Winters. They're a fascinating contrast to Tina Fey, who explains her measured, highly prepared approach. The episode also highlights the all-time #1 Emmy winner for comedy acting: Cloris Leachman.
Funny Ladies (#301) Duration: 56:46 STEREO TVPG (Secondary audio: none)
This episode features the first standup comediennes to appear on television - legends such as Phyllis Diller and Joan Rivers. It also looks at Lucille Ball's breakthrough on "I Love Lucy" and the sitcom stars who followed, including Mary Tyler Moore, Betty White and Marla Gibbs. The episode covers television's most enduring variety star, Carol Burnett, and features interviews with contemporary actresses including Tina Fey and Margaret Cho.
Local Kids' TV (#204H) Duration: 56:16 STEREO TVG
In the early years of television, local kids' programs shaped the childhoods of millions of American children. Performers such as Willard Scott, Ernest Borgnine and William Shatner all honed their skills performing on live TV with small budgets and little support. With the flimsiest of second-hand store costumes and their own imaginations, they learned how to make their audience laugh, smile and think. One early talent, Stan Freberg, got off the bus in the middle of Hollywood, became a cartoon voice talent and created "Time for Beany" - a show that captured seven out of 10 viewers, including Albert Einstein, during its run in Los Angeles. Freberg's story is told along with the story of legendary Muppets creator Jim Henson (who started at age 16), animator Bob Clampett (co-creator with Freberg of L.A.'s "Time for Beany"), actor Chuck McCann (originator of New York's famous "Puppet Hotel"), performer Pat McMahon (a star of Phoenix's "Wallace and Lamdo" - the most popular kids' show ever) and Nancy Claster, who developed the Baltimore kids' series "Romper Room" - the first franchised show in television history.
Sitcoms (#101) Duration: 56:46 STEREO TVG (Secondary audio: none)
This episode focuses on five key sitcoms: "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, offers surprising insights into the mind of Jackie Gleason. Similarly, Marlo Thomas speaks candidly about her father, Danny. Andy Griffith offers forceful opinions about the people and techniques that made his show work. In a rare occurrence, both Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke recount their years on "The Dick Van Dyke Show." Hundreds of episodes were culled for the most entertaining clips - including one particularly side-splitting bit by Don Knotts.
Miniseries (#304) Duration: 56:46 STEREO TVPG (Secondary audio: none)
Miniseries still rank among the top-rated programs in television history; they were major events that captured the nation's imagination. "Roots" was the biggest - interviewed about that groundbreaking series are stars LeVar Burton, Louis Gossett Jr., Leslie Uggams, Ben Vereen, John Amos, Georg Stanford Brown and Ed Asner. This episode also considers the very first miniseries, "Rich Man, Poor Man," as stars Peter Strauss and Susan Blakely offer fresh insights. All of the key players from the landmark miniseries "The Thorn Birds" appear, providing surprising commentary about the romance seen by more viewers than any other in TV history. New interviews with Richard Chamberlain, Rachel Ward and Bryan Brown mark the 30th anniversary of one of television's biggest events.