The Golden Age of Television

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ron Simon, curator of television and radio at The Paley Center for Media, discusses the Criterion Collection DVD "The Golden Age of Television," a series organized for PBS in the early 1980s that focused on the hugely popular live American television plays of the 1950s. These shows were thoughtfully choreographed, brilliantly acted, socially progressive, and brought Broadway-quality drama into homes across the country.


Ron Simon,

Comments [12]

sonny fox

After listening to a download of Ron Sinmon's informative remarks, I realize neither he nor Mr.Lopate mentioned Criterion Collection as the distributors,.

As producer of the 1980's series, I was deligthted to recive a call early this year from Criterion proposing the re-release of these programs we had so laboriously found ahnd cleared 25 years ago. To have them reappear and to get such a wonderful reception is indeed gratifying.

The other parrt of these programs passed over in the interview, is the inclusion of extensive interviews with the writers, performers and directors of the dramas. Frankenehimer and Rooney anhd Del Mann and Hancy Marchand and so many others no longer with us give a lively sense of the glory and the terrors associated with that time.


Dec. 17 2009 05:37 PM
John Coppola from Westchester County

The Sopranos was a show that played off of the most racist and deliberately insulting stereotypes of Italian Americans that anyone with a conscience would find acceptable. The problem was that the majority of Italian Americans did not protest as they should have.

Dec. 17 2009 01:21 PM
stuart from New York

Emily Nussbaum is also missing the other amazing MTM and Bochco series of the early 90's. American Life Network (a Moonie network) is running St. Elsewhere - The most amazingly cast show in generations (Denzel Washington; David Morse; Alfre Woodard;Howie Mandel to veterans like Norman Lloyd (from the Mercury Theater of Welles) and Ed Flanders. It's quite incredible to see the talent on that show.

Dec. 17 2009 01:21 PM
mbk from nyc

I LOVE Friday Night Lights!!!! One of the best shows on now. great in every way.

Dec. 17 2009 01:18 PM
Michael from NYC

I remember a story about a live commercial for Minute rice during the 1950's. People from General Food HQ in White Plains would inspect each grain of rice and then bring it to the studio in Manhattan for the commercial. Then at the commercial time, boiling water and the inspected rice would be combined. I guess if two or more grains failed to expand properly someone's job would be toast.

Dec. 17 2009 01:01 PM
mozo from nyc

It seems to me that you don't see a lot of "realism" in film or TV anymore. Americans are hooked on the happy ending or an ending where all questions are answered, unlike real life, which can be unhappy and incoherent.

Dec. 17 2009 12:59 PM
Steve from Baldwin

I recall seeing a still photo taken from a drama of this era. In it, James Dean was holding a gun to Ronald Reagan!

Dec. 17 2009 12:51 PM
Myron Weiskopf from East Orange, NJ

What about the technical quality of these DVD's? Your guest avoided answering the question.

Dec. 17 2009 12:49 PM
Richard Johnston from Upper west side

What does a kinescope look like? Is is just movie film? Do you play it on a normal movie projector?

Dec. 17 2009 12:47 PM
mozo from nyc

I saw the original "Marty". Rod Steiger was great!

Dec. 17 2009 12:43 PM
Bob from Manhattan

What do you think of the notion that the best "long arc" television dramas are really "mega-movies?" Might one characteristic of this new Golden Age be that quality series can be as satisfying to watch in one viewing as on a weekly basis?

Dec. 17 2009 11:57 AM
George from Bay Ridge

Why did live televised drama go away?

Dec. 17 2009 04:28 AM

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