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Pioneers of Television

Pioneers of Television

Photo Credit:  PBS
  • Premiered: 
    January 2, 2008
    (Click date to see TV listings for that day)

  • Network: PBS
  • Category: Series
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Type: Live Action
  • Concept: 
  • Subject Matter: Historical
  • Tags:

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  • Robin Williams Remembered
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  • Season 1
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  • Season 2
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  • Season 3
    • Amazon
  • Season 4
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Legal Full Episodes
Not Available Online
(That We Know Of)

Plot Synopsis

This series offers inside stories of TV visionaries who recall the medium they shaped with their creativity, foresight and wisdom. Utilizing new interviews with legendary stars and program creators, never-before-seen images and timeless footage that still entertains decades later, each one-hour episode brings to life the fascinating history of some of the most successful and beloved shows in television history. In 2008, the series highlighted four different genres -- sitcoms, late night, variety, and game shows. In 2011, the program again featured four different genres -- science fiction, crime drama, local kids' TV and westerns -- with stars such as James Garner, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Nichelle Nichols, Angie Dickinson, Bill Cosby, Robert Culp, Stefanie Powers, Martin Landau, Peter Graves, Robert Conrad, Linda Evans, Mike Connors, and Fess Parker. For its third season, the program documented four more genres: funny ladies, highlighting Phyllis Diller, Lucille Ball, Betty White, Mary Tyler Moore, Carol Burnett, Joan Rivers, Tina Fey and Margaret Cho; miniseries, showcasing ROOTS, RICH MAN POOR MAN and THE THORN BIRDS, using interviews with LeVar Burton, Louis Gossett Jr., Leslie Uggams, Ben Vereen, John Amos, Georg Stanford Brown, Ed Asner, Peter Strauss, Susan Blakely, Richard Chamberlain, Rachel Ward and Bryan Brown; primetime soaps, featuring interviews with Larry Hagman, Joan Collins, Linda Evans, Diahann Carroll, Linda Gray, Patrick Duffy, Michele Lee, Joan Van Ark and Donna Mills; and superheroes, with in-depth interviews with Adam West, Burt Ward, Julie Newmar, Lynda Carter, Lou Ferrigno, William Katt and others. PIONEERS OF TELEVISION returned for its fourth season on Tuesday, April 15, 2014 at 8pm ET/PT (check local listings), as PBS broadcast the Season 4 premiere, "Standup to Sitcom," which revealed how America's top standup comics made the transition from the comedy stage to the sitcom form, including interviews with Jerry Seinfeld, Roseanne Barr, Tim Allen, Ray Romano and Bob Newhart. Subsequent episodes in Season 4 included: "Doctors and Nurses," documenting the medical genre -- from Richard Chamberlain on DR. KILDARE through George Clooney on ER and beyond; "Breaking Barriers," which traces the story of people of color on American television, including the breakthroughs of African Americans in the mid-1960s and Asian Americans; and "Acting Funny," which peeks behind the curtain to reveal the techniques of America's favorite comedic actors.
On Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 9pm ET/PT (check local listings), PBS premiered "Robin Williams Remembered," a one-hour PIONEERS OF TELEVISION special. This tribute includes one of his last full-length interviews for the series, including never-before-seen comments on his life and comedic and dramatic work, as well as tributes to Williams by those who knew and worked with him, and clips from his career.


Production & Distribution

  • Produced by Boettcher/Trinklein Productions