PBS Pioneers of Television: Sci-Fi, Westerns, Crime Drama, etc

Discussion in 'TV Shows' started by Nelson Au, Jan 20, 2011.

  1. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    I wasn't aware this series got a second season and aired a new episode this week. I caught the first one last night, covering science fiction. It was a pretty well done hour focusing on Star Trek TOS, Lost in Space and the Irwin Allen series, and The Twilight Zone. I had not seen Star Trek and Lost in Space contrasted in such a way! And how Batman's success influence the direction Lost in Space went! It was good Gene Roddenberry had fought to avoid Trek going down the same direction in the name of ratings. And I had never seen those clips of Rod Serling. Fun to see actors talk about their participation in the series, Billy Mumy on Twilight Zone and Space, Shatner on one of the most remembered TZ episodes and Trek of course. While not a super in-depth hour, it was an interesting look at 3 very popular series from the 1960s. At least there was a short follow up at the end covering other great sci fi properties. Up next, Westerns.
     
  2. Walter Kittel

    Walter Kittel Producer

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    Nelson - Thanks for the heads up on this series. I missed it, but I should be able to catch a repeat this weekend on PBS.

    - Walter.
     
  3. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    My pleasure Walter. I caught it very late last night, had insomnia and blurry eyes! So I hope the repeats are in HD!
     
  4. H2TR

    H2TR Auditioning

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    H.
     
  5. DVD S.

    DVD S. Stunt Coordinator

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    I found this to be highly entertaining,

    but baffling in it's structure and re-visioned

    sense of Sci-Fi on TV history.

    The agenda was obvious:

    Start the show with Gene Roddenberry's

    TV career and not with the natural genesis of

    "Science Fiction on TV" with The Twilight Zone and

    next The Outer Limits(which was completely omitted even

    though HELLO!, Martin Landau & William Shatner were both

    on hand)!

    Followed by Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea(..which

    pioneered the adventure crew-driven sci-fi type TV show and was

    also the first color sci-fi show on TV)..visually OMITTED and not

    represented at all here, other than some off-hand mentions.

    Also, according to this show, CBS was trying to 'steal secrets'(?)

    from Roddenberry, because they were secretly developing

    their own space show(..and we all know how that came out)!

    They tried to make it sound like Lost In Space should never

    have been made(let alone on CBS...that it should have been Star Trek

    instead), even though, LIS was on the air, way before Trek, it never

    was trying to be Star Trek

    (..although, it did become camp-y like it's time-slot competition,

    Batman, as were lots of shows affected too, by the 'bat-camp' virus at

    that time).

    It's funny how no one ever 'gets' that the thing that originally attracted a

    lot of the audience for LIS(myself included), was the sense of wonder,

    awe and adventure that was the tone that it had at the beginning ,

    a sense that there was 'something else, some kind of wonder' around every

    corner,(as well as the excitement of glimpsing the ultra -cool Jupiter 2,
    which still holds in thrall to this day hundreds of model makers and fans).

    They came close when Marta Kristin & Angela Cartwright said that

    they visited NASA and all of these people said that it was LIS that

    inspired them into their careers in the space exploration & sciences

    industry, I am sure that it was because of the sense of wonder that I

    mentioned and was never because of Dr. Smith(...LOL)!

    Also amusing that Angela Cartwright said that monsters from LIS were

    spray-painted and often sent over to Land of the Giants...uh, NO, it was

    never that type of show(..there was 1 episode where 2 robbers wore masks

    that were part of the monsters, alien get-ups that were on LIS, but they tore

    the masks off in the episode and it was not even close to what she was

    describing)...

    but everything on this documentary was playing off of Star Trek, over to

    this, back to Trek, over to that, back to Trek.

    (It was essentially another love-letter to Star Trek)..how Lost In Space was

    only monsters and Dr. Smith.

    Bill Mumy said that Irwin Allen was essentially 'cheap', but never mind the

    fact that ALL tv shows had to be budget concious and there were many that

    were made on a 'shoe-string' budget..The Twilight Zone & Outer Limits included!

    That being said, I don't believe that Star Trek had unlimited cash budgets

    either, to put into each episode(though was oft-times rich in intellectual content).

    IMHO, Allen often did wonders, budget wise, with what he had.

    The Time Tunnel(..surprised it was included here and Lee Meriwether, too)!

    ..and OH YEAH, we almost forgot there was a GREAT show on once called

    THE TWILIGHT ZONE(..shoe-horned into the last 12 minutes or so of the doc.)!

    I don't have a problem with hearing fascinating details or anecdotes about Star

    Trek, I just think that this show COULD have been SO much better with a more

    well-rounded chronological time-line for science fiction on TV ,the way it really

    happened(..the alotted time/ and structure wasn't used well at all here).

    That is my point.

    This show was good for what it was, and it was awesome to see these seldom

    seen actors from a by-gone era ....Marta Kristin, Billy Mumy & Veronica Cartwright

    (Angela's sister), did seem to look quite well.

    I laughed when unexpectedly Adam West showed up(..still spry at 82)!

    his remarks about not trying to fix what wasn''t broken(..in regards to season 2 of LIS),

    were terrific.

    Star Trek's greatness has been well documented many times(..aside from the omission

    that there were never any cheesy monsters on that show)!

    Also, a mention of The Invaders?..forget about it!
     
  6. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    David,

    I would totally agree with you that it was somewhat one sided to look at Star Trek as the main show that was such a prime example of science fiction. I did say above this entry of Pioneers of Television was not in-depth.

    What I got was the writers chose to use 3 series as their focus for the thesis of this show. And Twilight Zone did get a bit shorted. I look at it also as what a producer probably said to do, which was concentrate on the shows people know and love because the others are less known and probably not remembered as well.

    The recreations of Roddenberry as a cop forcing his script on the producers was fun to watch, but the narrator did imply it could have been a pumped up story. And I'm sure it was.
     
  7. Walter Kittel

    Walter Kittel Producer

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    My reaction was somewhat similar to David's. I enjoyed the show and loved seeing the interview segments but was disappointed that The Outer Limits received such short shrift. Although as a life long fan of that 'other' series I wasn't surprised. I do understand that the series covered in the episode were probably more popular at the time and hence resonate more with the general public.

    Despite a lifetime of following Star Trek (since the original NBC broadcasts) I was not aware that Jack Lord was considered for the role of Captain; so I did learn that tidbit.


    Favorite aspect of the show was the interview segments. Shatner sure has an ego, doesn't he? Liked the bit with Nimoy discussing the use of Fascinating as a touchstone for the Spock character. Liked Billy Mumy's segments as well, especially his comments about never having a bad day at work on LIS. Must have been pretty special to work on a show like that at his age.

    I was hoping for something a little less superficial, but will keeping watching the series for the nostalgia if nothing else.


    - Walter.
     
  8. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Saw the second installment last night, Westerns.


    I thought that was a more rounded overview, many I remember, a few I never saw. In fact, the only westerns I recall seeing as a kid was Wild Wild West, Bonanza, and perhaps Gunsmoke. I was never into westerns, as I gravitated to science fiction.


    At least they didn't focus on 3 personalities, but the actual shows themselves and what made them unique and their impact.
     
  9. Ockeghem

    Ockeghem Ockeghem

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    Nelson,


    Do you recall if there was any mention of The Rifleman?
     
  10. Walter Kittel

    Walter Kittel Producer

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    Watched the second episode last night. I recall most of the Westerns featured on the episode from my childhood. (Maverick was a little before my time.) The racial and ethnic angles that were discussed with regards to the shows were interesting. Watching the shows, as a child, I was completely oblivious to that aspect of the programming. Once again a lot of the appeal of last night's episode was the interview segments. Especially enjoyed the ones with Rosey Grier. Watching the Daniel Boone segments brought back some fond memories of that series.


    I do recall the crackdown on violence at the time and the impact it had on series such as The Wild Wild West and Gunsmoke. As I recall the opening credits had to be altered on Gunsmoke. I don't recall whether the Wild Wild West altered its credits although thinking back on them they were fairly violent, in an abstract manner.


    - Walter.
     
  11. Walter Kittel

    Walter Kittel Producer

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    Scott, yes The Rifleman was covered. There was discussion of Sam Peckinpah's involvement, and how the show changed after he left; how it became more about the relationship between Lucas and Mark. There were several interview segments with Johnny Crawford as well that were enjoyable. Chuck Connors, and his career, were discussed as well. (I don't recall any mention of Branded.)


    - Walter.
     
  12. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Scott, there was a segment on The Rifleman. They profiled Chuck Conners and interviewed the actor who played the son. I've read the only change to The Wild, Wild West titles was West hitting the girl. I agree, the interviews was the best part. Glad to see they even had interviews with Peter Graves and Arness.
     
  13. Ockeghem

    Ockeghem Ockeghem

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    Walter and Nelson,


    Many thanks. The Rifleman is my all-time favorite television show (westerns genre). Now if we could only get the five-year series to come to DVD.... :)
     
  14. Kevin Hewell

    Kevin Hewell Cinematographer

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    Same here. The Wild Wild West was the only western that I got into.
     
  15. MishaLauenstein

    MishaLauenstein Supporting Actor

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    I was actually surprised last year that the series was so short. I wonder if they decided to turn it into 2 seasons for some reason after it was initially designed as a one season series. The fact that they seem to have interviewed so many people seconds before they died leads me to believe that this shows has been 'in the can' for a while.
     
  16. DVD S.

    DVD S. Stunt Coordinator

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    I thought that it was outstanding..

    for them to be able to cover so many series in this segment,

    versus last weeks...it made that one look even worse and

    had me scratching my head and wondering why?..why!! couldn't

    they have done a better job with the science fiction segment?

    I admit to only being 'into' The Wild Wild West, but I found all

    of the program to be informative and interesting(..especially in regards

    to the changes made to Gunsmoke).

    I loved the interviews and thought it was great seeing all of these actors

    after so many years(and was it my imagination, or has Dennis Weaver

    not changed a bit?).

    It was nice to see James Garner(..Maverick seemed so sweet),

    and of course, it was surprising seeing James Arness.

    Also, it threw me off a bit to see Robert Culp and Fess Parker(..may they both R.I.P.).

    The injury to Robert Conrad in season 3 of WWW...ouuchh, it hurts to watch that(..and

    I was really surprised when they said that the show was on hiatus for a year after that,

    waiting for him to recover, I didn't think that they skipped that much time of being on the

    network's schedule).It is a shame and somewhat of a shock, that one senator could weld that

    much power over violence on network TV at that time..and that level of violence

    compared to nowadays, it doesn't seem like it was too excessive, then!

    All in all this 'Pioneers' was a terrific one...and well done!
     
  17. Garrett Adams

    Garrett Adams Supporting Actor

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    I was surprised there was no mention of Have Gun - Will Travel which ran for 6 seasons (57-63). I was a big fan of Richard Boone's Paladin.
     
  18. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    I just saw the Crime Drama episode last night. That was pretty well done too. They did a pretty good cross section of shows that were unique for that time and were innovative and influential to other shows that followed. And it seems this series is mainly showcasing shows that really defined or broke the mold in each genre. So it seems that many series you guys were looking for that are not included could be due to how they defined what they wanted to include to show as examples that met their criteria. The premiere show on Sci-Fi was very light still. Star Trek was very influential to later Sci Fi shows, but there may not have been enough Sci Fi shows of the era they felt met the criteria. The Outer Limits was very influential, and was only noted in the footnote section at the end. But I can see how the Irwin Allen shows were used to contrast styles with Trek. The Twilight Zone was for sure innovative and influential. Back to Crime Drama, I've never watched The Untouchables, but I know of it and it was shown a lot on syndication in the 80's. So I was surprised it was produced by Desilu. And I can see they would include to contrast it's violence with Dragnet semi documentary style. The segment on Mission: Impossible was great and nice to see them collect most of the cast. I was glad they were able to collect Peter Graves, Martin Landau and Barbara Bain and even Nimoy to comment. Same with I Spy. Police Women was an obvious choice for it's influence and it was great to see the segment on Columbo and Rockford Files. I always looked forward to Garner and his crazy car chases! I watched Mannix when it aired on and off, but it didn't leave that big a mark on me. I just remember the car and his secretary. I was surprised they show The Girl From UNCLE and not discuss The Man, however I can see how influential her show was, like Police Woman. A lot of the early series that were influential surprisingly came from Desilu and I read a similar story of Lucy not understanding Star Trek when they mention how she didn't get Mission Impossible. Mannix, Star Trek, Mission: Impossible, The Untouchables, if Lucy wanted to endorses these shows to CBS as she did for one fo them, it seems they would have given her what she wanted! Oh yeah, forgot to mention Hawaii Five-0. I was surprised Kelsey Grammer's script for his narration got the premiere date wrong for Hawaii.
     
  19. Garrett Adams

    Garrett Adams Supporting Actor

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    Prior to the L.A. radio broadcast of Dragnet, Jack Webb was the lead in a San Francisco half-hour radio show called "Pat Novak For Hire". I attended one their broadcasts at the KGO studio in 1947 or 48. While I enjoyed watching the actors read their lines around their grouped microphones, I was more interested in watching the sound effects guy do his thing off to the side.
     
  20. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Cool story, Garrett! Thanks for sharing. And KGO is still there today.
     

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