Pioneers of Television: Season 1, Episode 2

Late Night (9 Jan. 2008)

TV Episode  |   |  Documentary
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In the early years of US television, a new form of entertainment was created: the late night talk show. Steve Allen was the first of his kind and he was noted for its wacky comedy and ... See full summary »

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Title: Late Night (09 Jan 2008)

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Episode credited cast:
Himself (archive footage)
Cliff Arquette ...
Charlie Weaver (archive footage)
Count Basie ...
Himself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)
Himself / Carnac the Magnificent (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)
Dagmar ...
Herself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)
Genevieve ...
Herself (archive footage)


In the early years of US television, a new form of entertainment was created: the late night talk show. Steve Allen was the first of his kind and he was noted for its wacky comedy and willingness to engage in crazy stunts. It was also a showcase for African-American performers such as Cab Calloway and Count Basie. He was succeeded in 1957 by Jack Paar, a skilled interviewer who got his start in radio and brought the art of conversation to the small screen. Johnny Carson followed as the next and undoubtedly most popular host of the show. He agreed somewhat reluctantly and became a TV staple for the next 30 years. His success led to many others trying their hand at the format, some successfully, including Merv Griffin, Joey Bishop and Dick Cavett. Written by garykmcd

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Release Date:

9 January 2008 (USA)  »

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1.78 : 1
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It's a solid overview of the late night television talk show...
3 October 2015 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

This show is from a really nice PBS series on early television. Oddly, however, this second episode is the first one on the DVD for the show.

This episode is about the history of the late night talk show. It begins with a brief discussion of Pat Weaver and skipped over a few abortive attempts to the Steve Allen version of the night show with its free-wheeling skits, crazy stunts, headlines and audience interviews. Then, in a huge change, the network replaces this comic with a pure interviewer, Jack Paar. Paar was strange, neurotic and temperamental...and these really worked in his favor to create an audience. Then, after his relatively brief tenure, the bulk of the show talked about Johnny Carson--followed by tiny diversions discussing folks who challenged him, such as Dick Cavett, Joey Bishop, Merv Griffin and Arsenio Hall.

All in all, the show was a great overview of the subject matter. It skipped a few folk who were of very minor importance--but otherwise it's a great look at the genre.

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