Television as a cultural anthropological prism

Ike and Mamie watching TV

I think I keep reading about, and therefore writing about television, despite the fact that I watch it in decreasing amounts, because I find it a fascinating cultural phenomenon. I was at our choir party this month, and we were talking about how networks, particularly ABC, will start broadcasting a serialized show and either never show the ending (The Nine, which I watched) or truncate it badly (this season’s Last Resort, which I wouldn’t watch for that reason) Continue reading

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Who starred with whom, and where?

There is this list of the five best television series of all-time, compiled by ABC News and People Magazine, and conveniently broadcast on ABC in the past couple weeks. Interestingly, all were comedies, none of them were broadcast on ABC, and the latter four would probably be canceled quickly these days because the early ratings were not particularly good. The list included:
I LOVE LUCY (CBS)
SEINFELD (NBC)
MASH (CBS)
ALL IN THE FAMILY (CBS)
CHEERS (NBC)

I read about it on Ken Levine’s blog. He (pictured) mentioned this because he was a writer for two of the shows, MASH and Cheers, which I suppose I’d consider for my list as well. I’d also pick Lucy, if only Continue reading

Color TV’s 60th anniversary

Looking for something else, I discovered that TODAY is the 60th anniversary of the first U.S. color telecast. “On June 25, 1951, with 12 million TV sets in existence, of which only two dozen could receive CBS color, CBS made history by presenting an hour long color TV program hosted by Ed Sullivan and Arthur Godfrey with 16 stars that performed song, dance and comedy routines.”

As this article notes, “Earlier attempts to create marketable color broadcasts had been hampered by the FCC’s insistence that any color signal be readable by existing black and white sets as well. Even though the CBS color transmission system was not compatible with most existing televisions, the FCC approved it as the U.S. standard in 1950… Continue reading