If you're reading this blog, you're a fan of TV, and as a fan you'll be sure to enjoy the second season of PBS' "Pioneers of Television" (UNC-TV, 8 tonight) a four-part series airing Tuesdays that starts with a look at classic science fiction.
Kelsey Grammer narrates the series, and the sci-fi episode is delightful. It gives a history of the top storytellers of the genre: Gene Roddenberry, Irwin Allen and Rod Serling, who created "Star Trek," "Lost in Space," and "The Twilight Zone" respectively. While Serling and Roddenberry wanted to tell stories with meaning, Allen was all about action.
Seems the early days of television are not much different than nowadays; "Lost in Space" for instance, was forced to get campy, the show reveals, when the super-campy "Batman" became a hit.
The episodes includes some of the actors involved in these shows like William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Nichelle Nichols, Billy Mumy, and Angela Cartwright. One of my favorite revelations was Roddenberry's first choice to play Mr. Spock. And wait to you hear that actor talk about being that first choice. Also great: Irwin's legendary frugality.
In the end, the show is an exploration of creativity, the talent that shaped what we see now, and that survives in the best shows we watch today. In the coming weeks, the series will explore westerns, crime dramas, and local kids' TV.