The Good

A terrific look at the people who developed the medium of television.

The Bad

The extras really aren't anything too special.

Pioneers of Television is a wonderfully put together PBS show that looks at the development of TV. Broken up into 4 parts it looks at the following kinds of programming:

- Late Night

- Sitcoms

- Game Shows

- Variety

Featuring interviews with such celebrated performers in the television field like Andy Griffith, Dick Van Dyke, Dick Cavett, Monty Hall, etc... this release is a must own for people like myself who collect TV on DVD releases. From a purely historical standpoint, I never knew how most of of these forms of TV got started. This release goes out of its way to also show the economics that played into getting these sorts of things on the air. In addition to this, Pioneers of Television is filled with anecdotes that make watching this DVD never feel bookish.

Great work, PBS!


Extended Interviews with the "Pioneers"

I don't think I'd really call these extras as they are simply extensions of things that we have already seen. However, they are listed as extras so I am not going to ignore them out of hand. I would say watch these things once you have watched the main program, only because I think that that will help your perspective as you screen this DVD.


The films is presented in "widescreen" format. Enhanced for 16x9 televisions. Told with archived show footage, voice overs, talking heads and everything else that makes documentaries alluring, I don't really have too much to say about the "Look" of this release. It seems like all the old footage has been cleaned up and because of that everything plays well against one another.


English: Stereo. The audio on this release was fine. I wasn't blown away by it but I don't think that one is meant to be. Everything sounded good, even with the old footage, and this is no small feat considering that much of it is over 40 years old. I never noticed any differences with the levels that made the transitions jarring, and because of that the audio also deserves high marks for staying this way throughout all 4 segments.


The front cover of this release presents an assort of pioneers all laid out against one another in black and white. The back cover lists out the four segments that make up this release and it gives a quick glimpse at all of them as well. In addition to this there is a credits list and some technical specs. Nothing too amazing about this amaray cover but I don't think people expect that from PBS.

Final Word

I cannot lie but my favorite section of this release was when it looked at Sitcoms. Getting to hear from people like Andy Griffith, Mary Tyler Moore, Jerry Stiller and Florence Henderson is always great, but I think that the creators of this show went out of their way to get different perspectives from these people. Not that I mind hearing the same stories again and again, but it's always great to hear things one doesn't know. I don't want to give too much away because I don't want to spoil this release for other viewers, but I really think that Pioneers of Television is bordering on "must own" territory.

The fact that this release brought me into the worlds of Late Night, Game Shows and Variety, was also a plus because it made me go outside of what I already knew. I loved hearing about Light Night because its origins are nothing short of fantastic. It's amazing how what seemed out of place at the time (small talk on TV) ended up becoming a mainstay on our sets.

Pioneers of Television was released .