Pioneers of Television

Wednesday 8:00 PM on PBS
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  • show Description
  • PBS presents a revealing four-part documentary series that talks to nearly 100 stars from television's formative years. The special covers sitcoms, late-night, variety, and game shows with interviews with the stars and archival clips revealing never-seen-before images as well as timeless clips.

  • Latest News
  • Episode Guide
  • S 4 : Ep 4

    Acting Funny

    Aired 5/6/14

  • S 4 : Ep 3

    Breaking Barriers

    Aired 4/29/14

  • S 4 : Ep 2

    Doctors and Nurses

    Aired 4/22/14

  • S 4 : Ep 1

    Standup to Sitcom

    Aired 4/15/14

  • S 3 : Ep 4


    Aired 2/5/13

  • Cast & Crew
  • Harlan Saperstein


  • Joyce Randolph


  • Marlo Thomas


  • Andy Griffith


  • Mary Tyler Moore


  • Photos (26)
  • Trivia & Quotes
  • Quotes (25)

    • Dick Van Dyke: (about Carl Reiner) His great talent was hearing your speech patterns, and your tempo and the way you spoke, and he wrote it so that you didn't have to do anything but the line. It was written the way that actor spoke. He did it for Mary, for Morey. He had Morey's (snaps fingers) rapid-fire– and it was so easy! That's great writing.

    • Barbara Eden: I enjoyed being on the Andy Griffith Show because it wasn't an obvious comedy. This was real life in a different world that a lot of people in America don't understand and can't relate to, but they love to watch it. And I think Andy knew that. He was– this was a brilliant man.

    • Jim Nabors: (about "The Andy Griffith Show") I'd never acted before in my life, and so I remember Andy announced to the crew and to all the cast, he said, "Now listen," he said, "everybody here," he says, "this here is Jim Nabors," he said, "this is his first time to do this, he doesn't know what he's doing, so all you help him out as much as you can."

    • Art Linkletter: Danny Thomas – he was a great storyteller humorist. He could tell one joke, and take 12 minutes to tell it, but it's funny all the way through. And then it's funniest at the end.

    • (About sitcom actors' need of a live audience.) Mary Tyler Moore: You get a jolt from the audience when they laugh at you, and it just gives you that "oomph!" to go do the next part even better.

    • Joyce Randolph: (of Jackie Gleason) He ran everything, everything. He picked the costumes, you know, everyone deferred to him for every question. It was amazing! And he seemed to be right most of the time; instinctively he knew what was right, even though he wasn't a well-schooled man. Theatrically, he knew.

    • Marlo Thomas: (about Danny Thomas) He said, "If you're going to get an audience to follow you, you have to tell the truth the whole way."

    • Arsenio Hall: I didn't want Johnny's audience; I wanted the children of his audience, and that's how I remained friends – or, that's how I remained not hated by the Carson regime. 'Cause they knew their numbers weren't gonna change, I was gonna bring people to television that weren't watching.

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    Notes (3)

    • Archive Footage: The Andy Griffith Show – Andy Griffith, Don Knotts, Jim Nabors, Howard Morris, Ronnie Howard Bye Bye Birdie – Dick Van Dyke, Paul Lynde, Janet Leigh, Mary LaRoche The Dick Van Dyke Show – Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore, Rose Marie, Morey Amsterdam, Larry Matthews Du Barry Was a Lady – Lucille Ball, Red Skelton Head of the Family: Carl Reiner, Gary Morgan, Sylvia Miles, Morty Gunty The Honeymooners – Jackie Gleason, Audrey Meadows, Art Carney, Pert Kelton I Love Lucy – Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, William Frawley, Barbara Eden The Lucy Show "Lucy and Viv Put In a Shower" – Lucille Ball, Vivian Vance Make Room for Daddy – Danny Thomas, Jean Hagan, Rusty Hamer, Sherry Jackson, Angela Cartwright, Andy Griffith My Favorite Husband (radio) – Lucille Ball, Richard Denning

    • For this episode, the show was nominated for a Primetime Emmy for "Outstanding Nonfiction Special" in 2008.

    • Archive Footage: • $64,000 ChallengeThe Dating GameDream Girl of '67The Hollywood Squares – Peter Marshall, Paul Lynde, Karen Valentine, Redd Foxx, Florence Henderson, Charlie Weaver • Jeopardy (audio) • Let's Make a Deal – Monty Hall • The Newlywed Game – Bob Eubanks • Okay Mother – Dennis James • Password – Allen Ludden, Betty White • Play Your Hunch – Merv Griffin • The Price is Right – Bob Barker, Bill Cullen • Stop the Music (radio) – Bert Parks • This Is Your Life – Ralph Edwards • Truth or Consequences (radio) – Ralph Edwards • Truth or Consequences – Bob Barker, the Valenti Brothers • Twenty-One – Jack Barry, Charles Van Doren, Herb Stempel • What's My Line? – John Daly, Steve Allen • Wheel of Fortune (audio) • You Bet Your Life – Groucho Marx, George Fenneman, Phyllis Diller • You Don't Say! – Wink Martindale, Dorothy Dandridge, Peter Lawford

  • Fan Reviews (1)
  • As a series, this was a mixed bag for me, some things were interesting but overall the one hour format sometimes limited the treatment of classic television.

    By Mac-Ale, Feb 02, 2008