Early Television Programming

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Great early images of America's television watching in this PowerPoint presentation.
A PowerPoint on the early TV years.

The variety of evening television programs were increasing to meet the demand of a growing population of viewers. America was falling in love with the fresh, fun, and dynamic personalities who were appearing on the new medium, creating a natural evolution for the console television set to replace the radio as an integral part of providing free entertainment for the home, a new focal point for the family to gather around.

Compliments of CED Magazine.

While the small kitchen television set had yet to be developed, the fast food market had galloped to the rescue of hungry viewers by giving birth to the pop-in-the-oven frozen "TV Dinner." Now Americans could graze while watching their favorite TV show.

People in their 50's or older will remember how funny many of the comedians were that appeared on early television, their routines so inventive they would receive belly laughs from live audiences and viewers, their shows on for years.

They never needed the prop of a faked recorded laugh common today with almost all television sitcoms, the audio edited with a computerized, digital-laugh track designed to tell you where you should laugh in case you don't. These vintage comedians proved again that "Necessity is the Mother of Invention," getting laughs without the crutch of shock-talk that marks modern-day funny comedians.

Yesterday's television comedians never relied on vile and offensive language, obvious sexual innuendo, or bathroom humor to shock their audiences into submission. On their own they were very talented, creative, and innovative personalities. You could walk up to almost anyone you knew, talk about one of these early comedians, and everyone would know who you were talking about. You could share most any of their hilarious routines with friends or workers without worrying if a child was present or if you were violating company policy.

Photo compliments of  Bedazzled.  Note:  as of day of posting, actual video was not streaming.

Singer and songwriter, Harry Nilsson, does his version of the Nairobi Trio, a tribute to the originator of the Ape's band, Ernie Kovac..

(If playing, turn off music on homepage.)

These comedic masters included the likes of Jackie Gleason, Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis, Sid Caesar, Milton Berle, Steve Allen, Jack Parr, Ernie Kovac, George Gobel, Red Skelton, George Burns, and later Peter Sellers to name just a few. These great comedians set the American standard for humor, fun, and laughter that was heard around the world. In the end, they helped everyone to forget their troubles in a time when innocence was not a liability, but an attribute.

The wonderful and very successful television series, The Honeymooners.

Compliments of History.com



Television was fun, loved, and non-rated because it didn't have to be. Click here for a virtual list of the amazing amount of television shows that were a part of classic, broadcast television programming without the need for a regulating rating system. You can also see a listing of popular television programs from the 1930's through today by visiting the site Wikipedia's Free Encyclopedia's listing for the Years of Television.

As millions of Americans ate their dinners watching extremely popular television shows, one bright star on almost everyone's lips was the name, Jackie Gleason. Few dared to plan anything on the evening that Jackie Gleason's "Honeymooners" was on live in homes across America.

"To demonstrate our technologies, we created this web site, which contains thousands of video clips encoded using the IGS process." - Liketelevision Download and view the best in classic cartoons, television programs, movies, and toy ads, along with Liketelevision's unique Time Machine.

Here are a few examples of the show titles that ran in the late 50's and 60's on broadcast television:

Boston Blackie One of the first detective shows.
Flash Gordon One of the first science-fiction shows.
The Ed Sullivan Show Vaudeville type show where the Beetles and Elvis were introduced to audiences across America.
Jack Parr Show The first popular national late-night talk host.
Kraft Theater Well know for its LIVE and entertaining drama.
The Price is Right The original "What's behind the door" contestant show that continues on-air today.
I Love Lucy The classic comedy family that is still enjoying reruns, establishing the sit-com (situation comedy.)
American Bandstand The original bandstand in the format of a fun-filled, non-agenda dance party, the attending dance couples becoming national icons on their own. I remember watching this show in the late afternoon after getting home from junior high-school in the mid 1950's.

The Cisco Kid, The Lone Ranger, Tombstone Territory, Bat Masterson, Bonanza, etc.

Popular westerns that focused on good vs. evil using the rough and tough old west as a backdrop for its stories of American's winning over adversity.
My Three Sons, Father Knows Best, Lassie, Mayberry RFD, Daniel Boone, Bewitched, etc.

Family Shows like these reflected the strong morals of American families during the 1950's and 1960's. If a child cussed in a local business, the owner was known to have called the parent to let them know what their child was doing outside the home. For these families, a STD could have been an oil additive.*

Highway Patrol The first popular cop show, "10-4, eh?"
Perry Mason One of the first very popular drama series focusing on the theme of an investigative attorney and his day in court.
The Dick Cavett Show One of the first talk shows, which was recently brought up again, where Swift Boat author, John O'Neill, as a very young man had originally taken on a very young and arrogant John Kerry almost 30-years ago over Kerry's comments to the United States Congress that all American servicemen were creating atrocities in Viet Nam.
The Jackie Gleason, Jack Benny, Milton Berle, Diana Shore, George Gobel, Red Skelton, George Burns, Lewis and Martin, Rose Mary Clooney Show . . . etc. Fun entertainment shows that had popular singers, guest movie stars, and tons of musical numbers for just plain fun. If there had been a rating system at the time, all television shows 24/7 would have been rated G or PG. It was agenda-free television with no divisive far-left or far-right issues. A split America was nonexistent in those days, people chasing the American dream while agreeing on one moral standard. Television programs reflected that rock-solid stability providing a consistent role model for children.
One Step Beyond, Men in Space, The Outer Limits, Superman, Twlight-Zone, etc. Science-fiction mystery shows. The costumes were sometimes silly and the sets simple. But America was still innocent and no one cared as space travel was just appearing on the horizon. In fact, Russia's Sputnik seemed to have more to do with the improvement of the American education system than any event since that time.
Sea Hunt The first show focusing on mystery stories revolving around deep sea diving.
Flipper Popular family show featuring a well-trained porpoise called Flipper.


Superbowl 10

Compliments greatsportsrivalries.com

A new kind of television programming was also coming of age that would cause neighbors and friends to gather together to surround the television screen on lazy Sunday afternoons. They would be accompanied by bowls of muchies and a variety of cold drinks to watch their favorite players of NFL football in new "living color."

This event happening in neighborhoods across the county would lead to creating one of the grandest TV events of our time, the Superbowl, which has amazingly grown in popularity right into today's culture. Corporations would suddenly spend millions of dollars to advertise their product to buy a blink-of-an-eye in time.

Today's Superbowl ad is worth around 2.5 million dollars for 30 seconds of time, or about $83,000 a second.**

America's new love affair with football and other live national sporting events, such as the Winter and Summer Olympics, would give birth to the need for a large-screen television that would allow more people to gather round a single set. This would create a huge audience that would demand perfection from diva sport stars, voting on them with the turn the turn of a dial. Where baseball, football, and basketball players had earned tens-of-thousands of dollars a season, their new salaries would soon make them millionaires. And not for the length of a career, but for the length of a single contract.

Vietnam war protests on TV, a hot war on a cool medium.

Compliments 25th Aviation Battalion

America was entering the decade of the 1970's as television evolved into presenting more sophisticated programming. Around the same time violent protests on American soil over the Vietnam war were rapidly causing families to feel uncomfortable for the first time with their home television viewing. "A hot war on a cool media" was not sitting well with millions of viewers.

The antiwar protesters were quickly learning how to use the half-hour evening television news to promote their personal hate-America agendas with chants, riots, and song (Compliments of CountryJoe.)

Thousands of body bags came home in living color on a screens that were suddenly used for propaganda by savvy anti-war groups. Young yuppie activists and opportunists against the war made it their business to promote their hate by spitting on returning American servicemen and burning the country's flag on the steps of court houses and in the nation's capital. This caused laws to be changed that would allow the flag to be desecrated in public as a form of free speech, past Veterans of Foreign Wars horrified at the liberal ruling.

Click here to read more about the Kent State Incident, and what happens when activists come onto college campuses.

Kent State - Compliments of Wellesley College

Activists formed groups that were assigned to college campuses to stir up students, raising up home-made looking signs with screaming voices when they would see television cameras near-by. Activists also encouraged students to burn their draft cards and to break the law, arranging violent confrontations in front of the cameras. This violence reach a fever pitch in an atmosphere that finally resulted in students being killed in front of television cameraman via the famous Kent State incident. Activists were overjoyed, realizing they were winning the media image war.

Many older Americans and Vets saw the activists as spoiled children taking everything they needed from the superstructure that had been built by them. . . food, water, electricity, shelter with a bathroom, a couch with a television, and a bed to share sex, all part of the live-in commune environment. Too many activists had nothing to lose and everything to gain, having wanted nothing since birth and growing up in wealthy American homes.

This had a direct effect on changing the social environment of America. The country was slowly drifting away from the foundation of the family unit after a decades-long habit of gathering around the old wooden television console in the living room. America was losing its innocence, entering into the start of a long and very slow downhill spiral into the decay that had marked so many other successful and arrogant societies throughout the history of civilization. Ironically, it would be television itself that would rip the country apart years later as spin masters and agenda-driven, power-hungry media giants would shift the message of television from mainly an entertainment source to a full-blown propaganda machine.

GE portable TV set.

Vintage Television eBay

So it was natural again, as you read in the beginning of this chapter, that the role of the console television would change again, this time evolving into smaller screen sizes that would accommodate dysfunctional and separated families. Multiple sets would soon find themselves located throughout the home in kitchens, enclosed porches, and bedrooms, while the new, all-purpose family room made space for the first large-screen televisions. Families had evolved to individuals watching network dramas and playoffs of icon sport teams in different rooms.

It was also a perfect time for the addition of a new video source, the prerecorded movie rental tape with titles such as Star Trek the Movie and Silent Running. It was one of the first alternative viewing sources that could be played back using a new concept called Time-Shifting, providing the first add-on component for television . . . the VCR.

America was on its way down the road to discovering today's wide-screen and HDTV generation of television sets, now only twenty years away in the future.


* Note: Click here if you want information from the CDC on the epidemic of STD's. The discussion is mentioned here because of all the mocking of early television families as being over simplistic, never encouraging risky sexual behavior.


** As a side note, some arrogant and young Dot-com owners in the mid to late 1990's literally spent half of their investor's money to give their new company name a few seconds of exposure to viewers from all over the world on Superbowl Sunday. These young business yuppies promoted their corporations with a marketing program that resembled the art of gambling more than the art of business. It was this attitude that caused so many of these NASDAQ companies to burst their bubble and tank a few years later. That's because they weren't businesses, instead too often short-lived adventures, their knights in shining armor thinking the world of business could be reduced to credit cards and warehouses hidden all over the world.

Many owners sold their stock before their companies crashed, while everyone else involved in the company, from stock holders to employees, watched their financial investment burn to the ground overnight. Many owners put a lock on the door of their failed dreams and drove away in a Porsche. While they had left many dead bodies behind, they had made enough to cover their loses and move on.

Go to Chapter 4, "Audio


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