About the Series

More than 200 breakthrough stars bring their stories to life in season four of the Emmy-nominated documentary series PIONEERS OF TELEVISION.

Each episode melds compelling new interviews with irresistible clips to offer a fresh take on TV’s biggest celebrities. Featured stars in this season’s four new episodes include Jerry Seinfeld, Robin Williams, Roseanne Barr, Bill Cosby, Tim Allen, Ray Romano, Noah Wyle, Anthony Edwards, Diahann Carroll, Howie Mandel, Bob Newhart and many more.



Standup to Sitcom

This star-packed episode features fresh interviews with Jerry Seinfeld, Roseanne Barr, Tim Allen, Ray Romano, and Bob Newhart. The program reveals how America’s top standup comics made the transition to the sitcom form; and includes dozens of side-splitting clips from “Seinfeld,” “Home Improvement,” “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Roseanne,” and more. Airs: 4/15/2014

Doctors and Nurses

From George Clooney on “ER” to Richard Chamberlain on “Dr. Kildare,” television’s long love affair with doctors and nurses shows no signs of letting up. Noah Wyle, Anthony Edwards, Gloria Reuben and Eriq LaSalle open up about the secrets of “ER”; Howie Mandel, Ed Begley Jr. and Christina Pickles revisit “St. Elsewhere.” The episode also features the final interview with Chad Everett of “Medical Center” before his recent death.Airs: 4/22/2014

Breaking Barriers

This episode traces the story of people of color on American television — including the mid-1960s breakthroughs of African Americans Diahann Carroll (“Julia”) and Bill Cosby (“I Spy”). Latino landmarks range from “I Love Lucy” with Desi Arnaz to “Miami Vice” with Edward James Olmos. Also featured are Asian-Americans like George Takei (“Star Trek”), who details his youth spent in a Japanese internment camp. Airs: 4/29/2014

Acting Funny

This episode peeks behind the curtain to reveal the backstage techniques of America’s favorite comedic actors. The program features the manic improvisational style of Robin Williams, along with his comic predecessor Jonathan Winters. They’re a fascinating contrast to Tina Fey, who explains her measured, highly prepared approach. The episode also highlights the all-time #1 Emmy winner for comedy acting: Cloris Leachman. Airs: 5/6/2014



Funny Ladies

This episode includes the first standup comediennes to appear on television, including Joan Rivers and the late Phyllis Diller (whose final interview was for this episode). Funny Ladies also looks at Lucille Ball’s breakthrough on “I Love Lucy” and the sitcom stars who followed, including Mary Tyler Moore, Betty White and Marla Gibbs. Also, television’s most beloved variety star, Carol Burnett, reveals the behind-the-scenes story of her long running show. The episode also includes interviews with contemporary actresses Tina Fey and Margaret Cho. Narrated by Ryan Seacrest. Airs: 1/15/2013

Primetime Soaps

“Dallas” and “Dynasty” kicked off the nighttime soap frenzy in the late 1970s , a phenomenon that continued through the last season of “Knots Landing” in 1993. The episode offers surprising new details about the legendary “Who Shot Jr” episode of Dallas, and reveals the backstage personalities that shaped “Dynasty” and “Knots Landing.” Interviewees in this episode include Larry Hagman, Joan Collins, Linda Evans, Diahann Carroll, Linda Gray, Patrick Duffy, Michele Lee, Joan Van Ark and Donna Mills. Narrated by Ryan Seacrest. Airs: 1/22/2013


Superheroes crosses many eras: “The Adventures of Superman” in the 1950s, “Batman” in the ’60s, “Wonder Woman” and “The Incredible Hulk” in the ’70s and “The Greatest American Hero” in the ’80s. The episode features in-depth interviews with Adam West, Burt Ward, Julie Newmar, Lynda Carter, Lou Ferrigno, William Katt and others. It also includes comments from Robert Culp about his show “The Greatest American Hero,” recorded just days before he passed away. Narrated by Ryan Seacrest. Airs: 1/29/2013


Miniseries still rank among the top-rated programs in television history. “Roots” was the biggest — interviewees about that groundbreaking series include LeVar Burton, Louis Gossett Jr., Leslie Uggams, Ben Vereen, John Amos, Georg Stanford Brown and Ed Asner. This episode also considers the very first miniseries, “Rich Man, Poor Man,” as stars Peter Strauss and Susan Blakely offer fresh insights. And all of the key stars from the landmark miniseries “The Thorn Birds” appear, providing surprising commentary about the romance seen by more viewers than any other in TV history. New interviews with Richard Chamberlain, Rachel Ward and Bryan Brown mark the 30th anniversary of one of television’s biggest events. Narrated by Ryan Seacrest. Airs: 2/5/2013


Science Fiction

Pioneers of science-fiction TV including Gene Roddenberry, Rod Serling, Irwin Allen (“Lost in Space”), William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Nichelle Nichols and other science-fiction stars.


TV Western pioneers, including Fess Parker (Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett), James Garner, Linda Evans, Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Conrad and James Arness.

Crime Dramas

Pioneers of TV crime dramas, including Jack Webb (“Dragnet”), Desi Arnaz (“The Untouchables”), Bruce Geller (“Mannix” and “Mission: Impossible”), Bill Cosby, Angie Dickinson, Barbara Bain, Martin Landau, James Garner and Stephen J. Cannell.

Local Kids’ TV

Pioneers of local kids’ TV including Willard Scott, William Shatner, Stan Freberg, Jim Henson, Larry Harmon (“Bozo”) and Nancy Claster (“Romper Room”).


Late Night

The late-night escapades of Steve Allen, Jack Paar and Johnny Carson enter primetime in this episode about the formative years of late-night television.


Rediscover television comedy classics, as this episode focuses on five key sitcoms: “I Love Lucy,” “The Honeymooners,” “Make Room for Daddy,” “The Andy Griffith Show” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show.”


From Ed Sullivan’s “Toast of the Town” and Milton Berle’s “Texaco Star Theater” to “The Carol Burnett Show,” “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” and “Laugh-in,” among others, this episode celebrates the variety show.

Game Shows

An enduring genre, TV game shows have always kept our rapt attention and had us yelling answers at our screen.