Learn about the history of television with KLRU Q’s New Year’s Eve Pioneers of Television marathon. We’ve got four episodes back-to-back starting at 8 pm Saturday, Dec. 31st.
Sitcoms at 8
This episode focuses on five key sitcoms: “I Love Lucy,” “The Honeymooners,” “Make Room for Daddy,” “The Andy Griffith Show” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” The last remaining Honeymooner, Joyce Randolph, offers surprising insights into the mind of Jackie Gleason. Similarly, Marlo Thomas speaks candidly about her father, Danny. Andy Griffith offers forceful opinions about the people and techniques that made his show work. In a rare occurrence, both Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke recount their years on “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” Hundreds of episodes were culled for the most entertaining clips – including one particularly side-splitting bit by Don Knotts.
Variety at 9
This episode begins with Ed Sullivan’s “Toast of the Town” and Milton Berle’s “Texaco Star Theater” and progresses through “The Carol Burnett Show,” “Smothers Brothers” and “Laugh-in,” among others. Tim Conway and Jonathan Winters tell hilarious stories about their variety show years. Conversely, Pat Boone offers chilling insight into early TV’s unspoken racism, and Tommy Smothers details the compelling behind-the-scenes story of his landmark show. Tony Orlando wraps up the era with especially insightful comments about the genre. Additionally, the episode includes fresh bites from PIONEERS’ earlier interviews with Milton Berle, Red Skelton and Sid Caesar. There’s no shortage of great clips for this episode. Standouts include Jerry Stiller’s first appearance on Ed Sullivan – with reflections from a June 2007 interview with Stiller.
Game Shows at 10
This episode traces one of broadcasting’s strongest genres – from its beginnings in radio through its heyday in the late 60s. Bob Barker talks about his earliest work and Merv Griffin details his creation of “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy.” Monty Hall recounts his compelling rags-to-riches story and Betty White remembers her role as the first female emcee. Clips for this episode are wide-ranging and include Phyllis Diller’s very first TV appearance – as a painfully shy contestant on Groucho Marx’s “You Bet Your Life.”
Late Night at 11
The stories of Steve Allen, Jack Paar and Johnny Carson headline this episode about the formative years of late-night television. Merv Griffin also emerges as a key player on the late-night scene. (His interview for PIONEERS was his last before passing away.) Regis Philbin offers revelations about his years as a late-night sidekick (to Joey Bishop). Dick Cavett and Arsenio Hall also discuss their years in the mix, and Sigourney Weaver offers personal details about her father, Pat – the inventor of “Tonight.” The episode is peppered with dozens of never-before-seen clips, including Johnny Carson performing in his early 20s.