Pioneers of Television: Standup to Sitcom

On Tuesday night, Pioneers of Television delved into the world of standup comedians and the successful sitcoms that followed. Seinfeld, Everybody Loves Raymond, Home Improvement, Roseanne… names synonymous with 1990s long-running television series and they spawned from the stand-up careers of their lead actors (and actresses). There are many reasons to love Pioneers of Television, but I love it mainly because it eliminates speculation and celebrates information from the stars themselves — whether or not the stars are telling the truth… well, that’s a horse of a different colour. I can’t tell you how often I wish they interviewed stars of the Classical Hollywood era as often as they do actors in present day. Needless to say, this show is a gold mine of trivial knowledge.

One of the most interesting details I learned from this episode is Bill Cosby’s significance to American television by revitalizing the sitcom. I mean, I knew Cos was hilarious and everyone adores Rudy, but his show made a difference in the television we watch today. Certainly Bob Newhart was a major influence to sitcoms, including the Cosby Show, and Pioneers traces all the way back to the importance of The Jack Benny Show, but I find it refreshing and interesting that Bill Cosby carried his standup routine into such a notable and successful show that began the cycle.

Another particularly ironic portion of the episode focuses on Jerry Seinfeld’s entrance into television with the show about “nothing” closely paralleling his life. Seinfeld explains the network expected him to come up with a pitch or an idea for a television series and he thought that was their contribution as a network. Who knew the lack of a theme would make for a beloved series. Take a look:

Hopefully you had the chance to watch Pioneers of Television on Tuesday night! If not, never fear, the show is available online… simply click here. Also, you still have the chance to test out your personality to discover which Pioneer of Television you best represent. Not surprisingly, I am Wonder Woman — if only I could wear the uniform as well as Lynda Carter.


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