Before World War II, the thought of a magical box with moving images rendered everyone skeptical. In a world dependent on only radio for entertainment, such a concept was unfathomable. Nevertheless, it took less than a decade for television to become the leading entertainment medium after the contraption flickered into living rooms across America.
What followed was a bunch of pioneering shows that defined both American cinema and culture. Helping shape TV entertainment for decades, here are some of the genres that were created in the “Golden Age of Television”.
If you think sitcoms are popular today, you should’ve seen how they blossomed back in the day. Some of the masterpieces of the time include Amos ‘n’ Andy (1951-53), Mama (1949-57), and The Honeymooners (1955). The blockbuster hit starring the husband-wife duo Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball I Love Lucy (1951-57), revolutionized TV in many ways – just like many other shows of the time.
Though many shows in the day were broadcasted live from New York City, Lucy’s uproarious scenes were all shot in Hollywood. Using at least 3 cameras, the sitcom was the first to be shot with a live studio audience, setting the standard trend for decades to come. At a time when racial discrimination soared, Lucille convinced showrunners to cast her Hispanic husband Arnaz in the show, which the producers were completely against – and the audience loved it!
Dramatic plays primarily seen on Broadway were cast right into people’s living rooms after the invention became mainstream. Pulitzer Prize Playhouse (1950-52), Kraft Television Theatre (1947-58), and other showcases offered live telecasts of well-known as well as new original plays like Wuthering Heights and A Christmas Carol. Since renowned directors and actors were all busy with Broadway, films, or vaudeville, only small-scale producers signed and helped launch fresher talent for small teleplays.
Old sci-fi movies might look funny to you now but back in the day, works like Captain Video and His Video Rangers (1949-1955) were considered cutting edge. With more money and larger sets, the next couple of productions, such as Space Control and Tom Corbett, Space Cadet (1950-1955), offered more cinematic value to their viewers.
Wrapping It Up
Television slowly but surely took over a role that was upheld by the radio for decades. Not only that, it further strengthened the sense of shared community within the country. No matter the distance, people could view events happening thousands of miles away. 1953 marked the year that people from all parts of America got to witness a presidential inauguration for the first time.