Oklahoma native James Garner among featured TV stars in PBS’ “Pioneers of Television” series
Just a reminder: PBS’ “Pioneers of Television” returns for a second season from 7 to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays from Jan. 18 through Feb. 8.
Oklahoma native 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, Fess Parker and writer Stephen J. Cannell are among those interviewed for the series.
The four-part series, narrated by Kelsey Grammer, takes viewers behind the scenes for a look at the inception of four of the most popular genres in television: science fiction, westerns, crime dramas and local kids’ TV, according to a PBS news release.
“Pioneers of Television” employs new interviews with legendary stars, along with never-before-seen images and timeless footage that is still entertaining decades later.
PBS provided the following descriptions of each hour-long “Pioneers of Television” episode:
“SCIENCE FICTION” (7 p.m., Tuesday, January 18): Storytellers Gene Roddenberry, Irwin Allen and Rod Serling created the storylines and characters behind the best-loved futuristic television of their time. But as Roddenberry’s “Star Trek” competed for ratings with Allen’s “Lost in Space,” each show’s creator aimed for a very different direction. This episode explores how Roddenberry and Serling (of “The Twilight Zone”) used the future as a stage for modern morality plays, and William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Nichelle Nichols and other science-fiction stars describe how they prepared to interact on-camera with a malevolent alien force… or, perhaps, a giant radish.
“WESTERNS” (7 p.m., Tuesday, January 25): Known everywhere as the quintessential American cultural identity, westerns filled small screens across the country night after night and were some of the most successful television shows in history. Fess Parker’s portrayal of Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett channeled the bravery, independence, honesty and rugged individualism of a young nation — and made Walt Disney enough money to build an empire. Westerns introduced James Garner, who starred in the television hit “Maverick,” where he developed the reluctant hero character that would cement his successful TV and film career. Garner, in his only recent interview, and Parker tell their stories, and Linda Evans recalls how two strong female characters emerged with her onscreen interaction with Barbara Stanwyck in “The Big Valley.” This episode also examines the success of Robert Conrad in “The Wild Wild West,” the popularity of “Bonanza” and the creation of the classic series “Gunsmoke” with James Arness — one of the longest-running television series of all time.
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