Tuesday, January 22, 2013

New Season "Pioneers of Television" Features Funny Ladies, Primetime Soaps, Superheroes, and Miniseries

Pioneers of Television returns to Rhode Island PBS for a third season featuring new stories about the visionaries who shaped a fledgling medium with their creativity, foresight, and wisdom. The four one-hour episodes will air on Thursdays, January 31 through February 21, at 8 p.m., with re-broadcasts on Saturdays at noon.

The celebrities in Pioneers of Television were the stars of the small screen in the early years of television, and much of the nation came to a halt whenever their shows aired. They strolled, sprinted, fought, laughed, cried, and loved through worlds that took viewers to places past, present and future. As the originators of these innovative television formats, they provided an essential escape for millions of viewers who eagerly waited to watch them each week.

Funny Ladies

 This episode includes the first standup comediennes to appear on television, including Joan Rivers and the late Phyllis Diller (whose final interview was for this episode). Funny Ladies also looks at Lucille Ball’s breakthrough on I Love Lucy and the sitcom stars who followed, including Mary Tyler Moore, Betty White, and Marla Gibbs. Also, television’s most beloved variety star, Carol Burnett, reveals the behind-the-scenes story of her long running show. The episode also includes interviews with contemporary actresses Tina Fey and Margaret Cho. Narrated by Ryan Seacrest, Pioneers of Television Funny Ladies airs on 1/31/2013.

Primetime Soaps 

Dallas and Dynasty kicked off the nighttime soap frenzy in the late 1970s, a phenomenon that continued through the last season of Knots Landing in 1993. The episode offers surprising new details about the legendary “Who Shot J.R.” episode of Dallas, and reveals the backstage personalities that shaped Dynasty and Knots Landing. Interviewees in this episode include Larry Hagman, Joan Collins, Linda Evans, Diahann Carroll, Linda Gray, Patrick Duffy, Michele Lee, Joan Van Ark and Donna Mills. Narrated by Ryan Seacrest, this episode of Pioneers of Television airs on 2/7/2013.


Superheroes crosses many eras: Superman in the 1950s, Batman in the ’60s, Wonder Woman and The Incredible Hulk in the ’70s, and The Greatest American Hero in the ’80s. The episode features in-depth interviews with Adam West, Burt Ward, Julie Newmar, Lynda Carter, Lou Ferrigno, William Katt and others. It also includes comments from The Greatest American Hero creator Robert Culp, recorded just days before he passed away. Narrated by Ryan Seacrest, Superheroes airs on Pioneers of Television on 2/14/2013.


Miniseries still rank among the top-rated programs in television history, and Roots, based on Alex Haley’s novel, is the biggest. Roots was shown over eight consecutive nights in 1977, and attracted more viewers than any other television drama before. Interviewed about that groundbreaking series are LeVar Burton, Louis Gossett Jr., Leslie Uggams, Ben Vereen, John Amos, Georg Stanford Brown, and Ed Asner. This episode also considers the very first miniseries, Rich Man, Poor Man as stars Peter Strauss and Susan Blakely offer fresh insights. And all of the key stars from the landmark miniseries The Thorn Birds appear, providing surprising commentary about the romance seen by more viewers than any other in TV history. New interviews with Richard Chamberlain, Rachel Ward, and Bryan Brown mark the 30th anniversary of one of television’s biggest events. Narrated by Ryan Seacrest, this episode of the Pioneers of Television season airs on 2/21/2013.


WSBE Rhode Island PBS transmits standard-definition (SD) and high-definition (HD) programming over the air on digital 36.1; on Rhode Island cable services: Cox 08 / 1008HD, Verizon FiOS 08 / 508HD, Full Channel 08; on Massachusetts cable services: Comcast 819HD, Verizon 18 / 518HD; on satellite: DirecTV 36 / 3128HD, Dish Network 7776.

WSBE Learn transmits over the air on digital 36.2; on cable: Cox 808, Verizon 478, Full Channel 109, Comcast 294 or 312.