Pioneers of Television : Westerns (PBS)

A new four-part second season of Pioneers of Television began last week on PBS. The first subject was Science Fiction. This week it was Westerns. The format of the 50 minute show includes interviews with actors and actresses from key TV series in each genre. The main problem of the format is the limited coverage that ignores major TV shows. So this week the Westerns episode featured Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Maverick, The Rifleman, The Wild Wild West, The Big Valley, The High Chaparral and Daniel Boone. Missing from the discussion of the genre was The Virginian, Cheyenne, Rawhide, Laredo, Alias Smith and Jones etc. No mention of any Universal TV production indicates copyright restrictions for the low budget PBS network.

We did get to see interviews with many actors who have sadly passed away since the episode was filmed. Fess Parker, Robert Culp, Peter Graves, Stephen J. Cannell and rare film interviews with Mitch Vogel, Linda Evans, James Arness, Henry Darrow and Robert Conrad plus stars from Daniel Boone.

Definitely worth watching when it plays in your area.  But very frustrating to see The Virginian ignored.

Pioneers of Television PBS : Westerns

Author: PGreen

Published work in U.S.A. for McFarland & Co. Inc. : A History of Television’s The Virginian 1962-1971 (2006, 2009 Softcover edition) Pete Duel : A Biography (2007, 2009 Large Print edition; Kindle edition) Encyclopedia of Weird Westerns (2009) Jennifer Jones : Life and Films (2011)

2 thoughts on “Pioneers of Television : Westerns (PBS)”

  1. When I saw that PBS program was going to be on, I thought they had to spend some time on ‘The Virginian’. It was so high class, and the quality was above the run of the mill Western. Everything about it was superior.
    Someone wasn’t looking at the right clips from shows if they left out such a program!

  2. I agree Kate. To omit all mention of the first 75 minute TV Western was a mistake. So much was left out. “Cheyenne” definitely deserved a mention as well. No mention of “Wagon Train,” the most popular TV Western of the 1950s internationally. The list goes on.
    I know in one hour you can’t cover all TV Westerns – but “Daniel Boone” wasn’t in the same class as “The Virginian” or “Wagon Train” for example.

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