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Pioneers of Primetime (1995)

An in-depth look at the early days of television and its first stars.




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Credited cast:
... Herself (archive footage)
... Himself
... Himself / Ricky Ricardo (archive footage)
... Herself / Lucy Ricardo (archive footage)
... Herself / Blanche Morton (archive footage)
... Himself (archive footage)
... Himself
... Himself (archive footage)
... Himself
... Himself / Ed Norton (archive footage)
... Himself (archive footage)
... Himself (archive footage)
... Himself
Vilma Ebsen ... Herself (archive footage)
... Himself / Fred Mertz (archive footage)


An in-depth look at the early days of television and its first stars.

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Release Date:

9 November 1995 (USA)  »

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User Reviews

Far from perfect but a nice overview of the early kings and queens of television.
8 May 2013 | by See all my reviews

"Pioneers of Primetime" is a good general overview of the early days of American television. For those who have no knowledge about this time, it's an invaluable introduction. For someone wanting something a little more in depth or academic, then this might not suit your needs.

This hour-long special was broadcast on Public Television many years ago and I saw only bits and pieces of it. I was happy when I saw it on Netflix and ordered it. I enjoyed the stroll down memory lane as it talked about some of the early biggies on TV--Milton Berle, Bob Hope, Red Skelton and others. I also appreciated how it explored the roots of this sort of entertainment--from vaudeville to radio to television--and it did this in a very reverent and entertaining manner.

Now there were a few problems with the show. Although I loved all the interviews, I really didn't understand why they interviewed Buddy Ebsen. In the early days of TV he was NOT a well-known or important entertainer and it seemed like they interviewed him simply because he was available. Another problem is that often they didn't label who the people were. I knew (since I am a trivia junkie for this sort of stuff) but my wife kept asking me who everyone was. Also, their short mentioning of Jackie Gleason and "The Honeymooners" was rather inaccurate--saying it was on for five seasons while it was really a stand alone show for one--with a few of the other sketches being a part of a much longer (and very successful) variety show. Additionally, a few of the early TV greats weren't mentioned at all and the show really would have worked better as a longer special or even a mini-series. Overall, a nice BRIEF overview but it was perhaps too brief--at least for my taste.

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