February 7, 2013

Around the Dial

Mof this week's links can be found at the Classic TV Variety Show Blogathon, but that doesn't mean there aren't other good things out there:

It's not exactly part of the classic TV genre, but soccer fans (like me) have been all abuzz about the news (h/t Awful Announcing) that Fox is grooming Gus Johnson to take over as the networks' voice of the 2018 World Cup.  Now, I'm inclined to like Johnson, and I think there's every chance that he could turn out to be a pretty good soccer announcer.  On the other hand, as a fan of dependable British announcers like Martin Tyler, Ian Darke and Jon Champion, I'm also apprehensive about this.  But that World Cup is five years away (ESPN and ABC still have next year's edition), and I'm just hoping I'll be around then.  At any rate, we'll get some idea of how this work in progress is going when Johnson calls the upcoming Champions League final, as well as some Premier League matches.

TV Obscurities reviews the latest episode of PBS’ Pioneers of Primetime and finds it the best of the season, so far.  I watched the first two seasons of this series, spending about as much time complaining about it as I did enjoying it, so I decided to take a flyer on this third season, and from what I’ve read here, I don’t think I’m missing anything. My main bone to pick has always been that the producers of this series have a very unique definition of the word “Pioneers” that emphasizes programs from the 70s and 80s, rather than the dawn of TV..

Look, I get it that much of the video from the truly “pioneering” shows in TV’s history are gone forever. I know that for many people today, shows from the 80s are part of ancient history. And I understand that television is a visual medium and that, when you’re making a TV series, the emphasis is going to be on moving pictures. But this show has long been guilty of ignoring TV’s rich past in favor of the more recent (and accessible). I mean, how can you virtually ignore Peyton Place in any discussion about soaps in primetime? Dallas and Dynasty were megahits, and perhaps they changed the definition of prime time soaps, raising the bar forever. But that’s not quite the same thing as being a “pioneer,” is it?

If producers can get the footage, they should use it. If they can’t, then they should show still photos, interview people who where there, show how the old shows influenced the new. Either that, or change the name from Pioneers of Primetime to something more accurate. 

The original Saturday Night Live? Try Your Show of Shows, with Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca. Now that’s what being a pioneer is all about!

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