Preview Tuesday’s ‘Pioneers of Television’ On PBS – Focusing on Gene Roddenberry & SciFi

On Tuesday the PBS series Pioneers of Television airs turns its attention to science fiction, with an episode honoring a number of luminaries in the field, including Gene Roddenberry. The episode will feature new interviews with Star Trek stars William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and Nichelle Nichols. Watch preview clips below.

 

Pioneers of Television honors Gene Roddenberry

The PBS series Pioneers of Television returns for its second season on Tuesday January 18th at 8 PM (7 central). The series focuses on "the visionaries who shaped a fledgling medium with their creativity, foresight and wisdom." This season will look at the originators of innovative television formats, with four episodes dedicated to a different genre: science fiction, Westerns, crime dramas and local kids’ TV, each narrated by Kelsey Grammer.

Here is a preview of the season:

Watch the full episode. See more Pioneers of Television.

Tuesday’s episode will focus on science fiction pioneers including Gene Roddenberry, Rod Serling, and Irwin Allen, and will include interviews with William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Nichelle Nichols and other science-fiction stars.

Here is a preview of Leonard Nimoy and Nichelle Nichols from the science fiction episode:

Watch the full episode. See more Pioneers of Television.

And here are some clips of William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy from the "Westerns" episode, airing January 25th.

Watch the full episode. See more Pioneers of Television.

Watch the full episode. See more Pioneers of Television.

More information on Tuesday’s episode of Pioneers of Television on "science fiction" available at pbs.org.

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Jesustrek
January 17, 2011 4:21 pm

Yesss liked ;)

January 17, 2011 4:31 pm

Did not know about this. Looks very cool.

Vultan
January 17, 2011 4:37 pm

Commando Cody! I had no idea Nimoy was in one of those serials.
Thanks, PBS. I’ll be watching….

jas_montreal
January 17, 2011 5:06 pm

When is that Rod Roddenberry documentary about Star Trek going to air ? I remember watching the trailer a while ago.

January 17, 2011 5:40 pm

#4 Last l read He is looking for a network willing to air it. I wish SyFy would be willing to . As for this special I cannot wait my DVR and myself await.

VZX
January 17, 2011 5:44 pm

I think a movie about the life of Gene Roddenberry would be pretty cool.

Commodore Mike of the Terran Empire
January 17, 2011 6:24 pm

Gene was a True Visionary. He created the best Show on T.V and or Movies. Star Trek. My Tivo will be recording and can’t wait to see it.

CmdrR
January 17, 2011 8:14 pm

First time I’ve seen the Zombies clip. Was it in character for zombies to speak with that accent? “wah-tuh” Anyway, glad Leonard got that out of his system before he pasted on the ears.

Hat Rick
January 17, 2011 11:12 pm

I have a great deal of respect for Gene Roddenberry, who from all accounts was not just a great writer and producer, but an extraordinary human being.

Harry Ballz
January 17, 2011 11:52 pm

So, let’s see, Gene Roddenberry basically ripped off most of the premise for Star Trek from “Forbidden Planet”, hired Gene Coon who fleshed out MOST of the Trek mythology for TOS, and poo-pooed every creative idea from anyone else who came along, right up to, and including, the movies and TNG.

Therefore, all he did, back in the early 60’s was, in a pitch meeting, essentially sell a studio on “Wagon Train in space”. Honestly, other than that, what exactly did he contribute to anything? Take off the rose-colored glasses and really look at this, people!

I really hate it when people get credit for doing next to nothing! It seems that Hollywood being out of ideas is NOT a recent development!

Vultan
January 18, 2011 12:16 am

Too much wine, Harry. Too much.

Harry Ballz
January 18, 2011 12:59 am

Don’t whine about my wine………….consumption! :>)

skyjedi
January 18, 2011 2:03 am

Gene was the ultimate salesman, but i think Samuel Peoples, Gene Coon, and DC Fontana made star trek a success.

MJ
January 18, 2011 2:35 am

@10 ” So, let’s see, Gene Roddenberry basically ripped off most of the premise for Star Trek from “Forbidden Planet”, hired Gene Coon who fleshed out MOST of the Trek mythology for TOS, and poo-pooed every creative idea from anyone else who came along, right up to, and including, the movies and TNG. Therefore, all he did, back in the early 60’s was, in a pitch meeting, essentially sell a studio on “Wagon Train in space”. Honestly, other than that, what exactly did he contribute to anything? Take off the rose-colored glasses and really look at this, people! I really hate it when people get credit for doing next to nothing! It seems that Hollywood being out of ideas is NOT a recent development!”

You are missing the key point. He made it happen and he orchestrated it all. How many basketball championships did Michael Jordan win before Phil Jackson became coach, and how many basketball championships did Shaq and Kobe win before Phil Jackson became coach…ZERO. So one could easily say, Phil can’t even play on the court and Michael, Shaq and Kobe are the greatest players of all time, so Phil is a useless piece of furniture, right? Wrong!!! Phil had the vision, built the team chemistry and led the effort that turned into 11 world championships, championships that those players could not win with coaches the preceded Phil Jackson.

MJ
January 18, 2011 2:38 am

BTW guys, Gene’s son reads these threads on this website regularly, so please keep your criticisms of Gene Sr. at a polite level with some respect for the Roddenberry family.

jas_montreal
January 18, 2011 6:33 am

@ 10.

Gene’s vision for Star Trek was quite unique, but his inspirations were through his life experiences, unlike most other hollywood writer/producers. I’m sure there were many writers who contributed on-top of Gene’s vision. Soo many people have contributed too Gene’s dream of the future. Ron Moore, D.C Fontana, etc….

ster j
January 18, 2011 9:54 am

#8. Oh, Spock spoke with a Bostonian accent, too. On “City on the Edge of Forever” Spock spoke how Edith Keeler’s interference caused the US to delay entering into WWII allowing Germany “to complete their heavy ‘woddur’ experiments”!

ster j
January 18, 2011 9:56 am

And how beautiful is Nichelle Nichols?! She’s aged like a fine wine.

Harry Ballz
January 18, 2011 11:46 am

MJ, I appreciate your point of view, as always! :>)

Michael Hall
January 18, 2011 1:11 pm

“I really hate it when people get credit for doing next to nothing! It seems that Hollywood being out of ideas is NOT a recent development!

And I really hate it when little pissants, who have never had a real idea in their entire lives, get their kickies from defaming the reputations of those no longer in a position to defend themselves. What really makes it especially perverse in this case is that the person in question’s offense seems to have been, whatever his well-documented flaws, the creation of an entertainment franchise that has brought hope and inspiration to millions of viewers–including, most notably, the pissant. Truly, no good deed goes unpunished. . .

Harry Ballz
January 18, 2011 1:59 pm

Don’t make sweeping assumptions about people, moron.

January 18, 2011 3:28 pm

Yeah!

But what Harry said was funny.

Roddenberry was a figurehead, but he was not the well spring of all things Trek. His importance was of having an idea for a TV show and pitching it properly. And of having a hand in the execution of such a good failed pilot that he got the network to bankroll another one. He was fighter for the show. But he was not the deity that some fans make him out to be.

Vultan
January 18, 2011 3:47 pm

Well, it is true Roddenberry’s Trek owed much to Forbidden Planet… just as that movie owed much to Shakespeare’s The Tempest. And I’m sure The Bard had plenty of inspirations.

It’s a deep well this thing called creation. Some put water in, others take it out. Let’s just hope it never goes completely dry! :D

Harry Ballz
January 18, 2011 4:09 pm

24. “It’s a deep well this thing called creation. Some put water in, others take it out”

Vultan, very nicely put! I will have to remember that line!

Harry Ballz
January 18, 2011 4:10 pm

23. Thanks, THX!

Vultan
January 18, 2011 4:34 pm

#25

Thanks, Harry. But I can’t take credit for the metaphor. I was paraphrasing something I heard from—well, I really don’t remember who it was, but he was defending Elvis Presley from the accusation that he “ripped-off” black musicians in his rise to stardom.

CmdrR
January 18, 2011 4:49 pm

Nothing new under the sun. Or under the 300,000,000,000 or so suns of our galaxy.

Shalot
January 18, 2011 5:05 pm

Star Trek entertained…asked moral questions…and shaped allot of us as we grew up with it. Without Gene our lives would have been so much poorer. Bless you Mr Roddenberry. Thank you.

VulcanFilmCritic
January 18, 2011 7:08 pm

I’ve just finished watching the show and I got the same queasy feeling I experienced after watching Ken Burns’ documentary on Jazz. Hours of TV time wasted on Wynton Marsalis talking endlessly about Louis Armstrong. Nothing about Miles Davis or Bill Evans or anybody really.

Here you have an hour of TV time (and my life) wasted on endless drivel about “Lost In Space!” Really!!!???

I’m not even going to mention the bitchslapping given to “Star Trek” by Rod Serling: “unenven” “at times carnival-like.” Thanks PBS, thanks a lot.

But horror of horrors my worst fears have been confirmed. That Leonard Nimoy was NOT, repeat NOT the first choice for Mr. Spock. For the past 45 years everyone has denied this rumor, but now the only person in the room still alive who could deny or confirm the rumor has at last CONFIRMED it:
MARTIN LANDAU WAS THE FIRST CHOICE FOR MR. SPOCK!!! ARRGHH!!!!
All I can say is: I’m going to have trouble sleeping tonight.

P.S. With all due respect to Mr. Landau (and I really do respect his talent), given the way he has aged, I think we should be grateful that we have had 45 years of the truly amazing looking Mr. Nimoy as Spock.

gingerly
January 18, 2011 7:30 pm

@30

“I’m not even going to mention the bitchslapping given to “Star Trek” by Rod Serling: “unenven” “at times carnival-like.” Thanks PBS, thanks a lot. “

This brings to mind Jon Stewart’s frequent lampooning of Fox News’ tendency to replay Democrat speeches out of context in order to make a negative point about that party.

I do believe Serling said (paraphrasing) that Trek was brilliant and tackled relevant social issues, as well.

It’s just that, and this is true, his point was that it it was frustrating to see those light jokey episodes like Spock’s Brain when he saw such innovation and social relevance in episodes like City on the Edge of Forever.

Serling certainly understood the pressure that lead to doing those kinds of episodes as it was the reason why he stopped doing TV, himself, for a good while.

I wouldn’t have minded Landau back in the day:

Though, you’re right Nimoy wouldn’t held onto one of the side reasons Spock was conceived in the first place (that devilish sex-appeal) MUCH longer. :)

TJ Trek
January 18, 2011 8:07 pm

Thanks to Anthony for his post about civility. Granted Gene never was the largest creative force in making star trek work, but what would you say if we x’d him out of the equation…..nothing, because we really wouldn’t be talking. There would be no Star Trek, no nothin’. so there you go. If you have something nasty to say, please right it down in a journal, or find another board. This is suppose to be about the love of star trek, not the almost hate filled nit picking of the universe and the franchise. X out the hate, and we can all get along.

I think I just fell off my soap box, so I’ll give it rest. But as long as we still get such crap in these posts, I will continue to champion “civility” as Anthony put it.

VulcanFilmCritic
January 18, 2011 8:08 pm

@31 OK, OK maybe I was a little rash, but my skin crawled when I heard Serling say that. You see, I have been reading Gordon Sanders’ biography of Serling, who referred to Hollywood as “the land of mink-lined swimming pools.” Serling had more than a little conflict in his own soul about selling out.

Overall, I guess the documentary treated the subject matter with some respect, but IMHO, not enough. And certainly not enough credit given to Star Trek. It’s influence on the shape of the future: personal PC’s and cell phones look the way they do because of Star Trek. Multi-culturalism is a good thing, in part because of Star Trek. and I don’t think we would have been prepared for a president named Barack Obama if it were not for Star Trek. No other Sci-Fi show, NO OTHER SHOW has had that kind of influence on the minds of young people and culture as this one. It’s just in another category compared to “Lost In Space.”

And while I’m ranting, let me say that there were other Sci-Fi shows that at least deserved some mention: “The Outer Limits” which was about as true to the concept of Sci-Fi as you could get on TV. “My Favorite Martian,” satire to be sure, but the inspiration for Mr. Spock (and Nurse Chapel) and all of the British imports: “Dr. Who” and “H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man.”

TJ Trek
January 18, 2011 8:09 pm

to #23, That’s what I am talking about. You agree with Harry and do so in a polite tone. Thank you

Xai
January 18, 2011 8:17 pm

I watched this earlier this eve. I wasn’t aware or the “competition” between LIS and Trek (at least from the networks point of views.) Enjoyed the whole hour

Jack Lord as Captain JT Kirk
Martin Landau as Spock

Hard to imagine…

“Book ’em, Spocko”

keachick
January 18, 2011 9:37 pm

How anyone can compare Lost in Space with Star Trek in terms of quality in production, script, acting… is beyond me.

When Star Trek first aired on NZ television it was put on a Thursday at 8.00pm, then Saturday 8.00pm. On the other hand, Lost in Space was screened between 5.00 and 6.00pm, considered the children’s time slot.

Need I say more?

MJ
January 18, 2011 11:34 pm

@36. Keachick, I could not agree more!

MJ
January 18, 2011 11:41 pm

@23 “Roddenberry was a figurehead..”

Metaphorically speaking, “you lost me at hello” with this statement…I didn’t need to read any further into your post.

I spent some time with GR in the late 70’s, and I can assure you that he was much more than the studio bureaucrat that you and some others claim. The guy loved and breathed Trek.

CmdrR
January 19, 2011 6:34 am

Roddenberry was clearly the father of Trek, as in Washington being the father of his country. No one says Washington won the revolution on his lonesome, or contributed so much as a quill stroke to The Constitution. But, he is important. Roddenberry set things in motion and shepherded most of the important developments. Why blast the man? It’s in our nature to cheer for one person, rather than applaud the team. So be it. We get-a-lifers know how many people it takes, still, to keep Trek vibrant and engrossing. On it goes…

CmdrR
January 19, 2011 6:38 am

BTW, for the chance to be a part of Trek, I would not only drive the honeywagon, but I’d still cheer on Gene and JJ whole-heartedly.

gingerly
January 19, 2011 10:09 am

@33

I do agree with you there. Though I think they were hardest on Irwin Allen, not Trek. Maybe they should have done a two-parter to cover everything.

I have to give the actors from Lost in Space credit for being humble enough to be appreciative of their legacy, no matter how ‘light’ or heavy.

January 19, 2011 12:42 pm

#38

Wow. Way to be civil. You don’t even read my comment and yet you slam what I have to say. I guess I have gotten under your skin.

I have no qualms with what I said. Your comments seem to verify my position that Trek fans deify the cast and crew. At least I give you the benefit of the doubt of reading your entire statement before I form an opinion about what you have to say.

Harry Ballz
January 19, 2011 12:55 pm

Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Some think Roddenberry was everything to Trek, fine. Others think he was an overrated hack, fine. Each opinion is valid in it’s own way. Don’t get your panties in a knot if someone disagrees with your opinion!

January 19, 2011 1:00 pm

That’s right, Harry. Tying panties into a knot was for the pourn thread.

Harry Ballz
January 19, 2011 1:36 pm

,,,and then sticking said panties up a certain opening, then pulling them out slowly, one knot at a time?

(oops, was that my outside voice?)

Aurore
January 19, 2011 4:09 pm

So, “something” is outside and you call it a voice.

Now, some people are going to expect you to sing. One note at a time.

Aurore
January 19, 2011 4:29 pm

@ 46

This is outrageous!!!

MJ
January 19, 2011 4:41 pm

@42. Come on now THX-1138, my post #38 was not uncivil…you are really exaggerating. And I did read your post, but was obviously having some fun with the pop culture (Jerry Maguire) line about “I had you at hello.”

Clever way though of ignoring the comment I had and instead making this something “allegedly” uncivil me, which is isn’t Your response certainly takes the conversation aware from you calling Roddenberry a figurehead, so it worked from your perceptive, I guess. :-)

With all due civility,

MJ

Aurore
January 19, 2011 4:41 pm

@47

Forgive me.

MJ
January 19, 2011 4:42 pm

@43. Thanks Harry — agreed!

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