TV on DVD: Pioneers of Television: Season 2

Sons of the Pioneers

Pioneers of Television: Season 2” (PBS)

Three years after PBS’s original “Pioneers of Television” mini-series, the show is revived with four more chapters on some of the most resilient genres of the TV landscape of the fifties to the seventies. This time around, the spotlight hits the long-time staples “Westerns” (the dominant genre of the early decades of television) and “Crime Dramas” (which overtook westerns in the seventies), niche genre “Science Fiction” and the subterranean “Local Kids’ TV.”

The show still plays more like an introduction to the greats of the genre than an analysis of the genre or the TV culture of the era, but it does a good job of getting a lay of the TV landscape and quite rightly focuses on a few key shows from each genre. For “Science Fiction,” of course, that boils down to “Star Trek,” “The Twilight Zone” and the anti-science fiction goofiness of Irwin Allen’s “Lost in Space,” which is about all this episode covers. It works for its thesis (science fiction was a genre where both Rod Serling and Gene Roddenberry could create “modern morality plays” and offer social commentary under the guise of the fantastic) but completely ignores the early pulp efforts like “Rocky Jones” and the first major science fiction series, the live-TV anthology “Tales of Tomorrow.”

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Author: seanax

I write the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website ( I'm a contributing writer for Turner Classic Movies Online, Keyframe, Independent Lens, and Cinephiled, and the editor of Parallax View ( I've written for The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The Seattle Weekly,, Senses of Cinema, Asian Cult Cinema, and Psychotronic Video, among other publications, and I am a contributing editor to Parallax View. I currently live and work in Seattle, Washington, with my two cats, Hammet and Chandler.

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