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Posts Tagged ‘Television History’

Alex Haley’s “Roots”: The 40th Anniversary

In January 1977, a miniseries aired on ABC, and it would essentially change the face of television.

“Roots,” based on Alex Haley’s novel “Roots: The Saga of an American Family,” won nine Emmy Awards, as well as a Golden Globe and a Peabody Award.

Roots: The Saga of an American Family Research Topic

Roots: The Saga of an American Family Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

It tells the story of Kunta Kinte, an African adolescent who was brought to Colonial America and forced into slavery.

The story was based on what Haley claims to have discovered after conducting research to trace his ancestry.

Alex Haley Research Topic

Alex Haley Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

eLibrary offers a multitude of additional information related to the subject matter of “Roots,” including these Related Topics:

Atlantic Slave Trade

ProQuest Research Topic Guide: African-American History

ProQuest Research Topic Guide: Slavery in the U.S.

Slavery

Slavery in the U.S.

Star Trek is 50!

On September 8, 1966, NBC aired the first episode of a show that lasted only three seasons. The network could not have predicted that the show, whose introduction announces a five-year mission, would spawn a franchise that would persist for 50 years and have a profound effect on culture and science.

Star Trek RT

Star Trek Research Topic page via ProQuest eLibrary

Of course, the show was Star Trek. And, to celebrate its birthday, here are some easily digestible bullet-pointed facts:

-The show was created by Gene Roddenberry and starred William Shatner as the dashing Captain James T. Kirk, Leonard Nimoy as the logic-driven Spock and DeForest Kelley as grumpy doctor Leonard McCoy, who resumed their roles in the movies of the 1980s. In the reboot films, those roles are played by Chris Pine, Zachary Qunito and Karl Urban.

-Desilu Studios, the company founded by famous TV couple Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, produced the show, and the call to go ahead with production was made by Lucy herself. She was running the company following her divorce from Arnaz and decided to pull the trigger because she she thought Star Trek promised something different from the average TV fare.

-Trek fans have been devoted from the very beginning. Due to low ratings, the show was threatened with cancellation in the second season, but a write-in campaign by fans helped keep it on the air for a third. All these years later, fandom is still strong.

-Roddenberry, hoping to break from the tired tropes of TV, intended Star Trek to explore topics that weren’t normally allowed on the air. “You really couldn’t talk about anything you cared to talk about. It seemed to me that perhaps if I wanted to talk about sex, religion, politics, make some comments against Vietnam, and so on, that if I had similar situations involving these subjects happening on other planets to little green people, indeed it might get by, and it did.”

-Which brings us to …

Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura engaged in what is often referred to as the first televised interracial kiss. This was, of course, controversial in 1968, and there were efforts to avoid showing the actors’ lips touching before the scene was allowed to run as written.

-To date, Star Trek has resulted in six TV series (and one on the way), 13 movies and hundreds of books, making it a very profitable “enterprise.”

-The Original Series, or TOS, predicted and even directly influenced many technological developments, including mobile phones, computer tablets and plasma TVs. For example, Martin Cooper, inventor of the first cell telephone, said that the Star Trek communicator was the inspiration for the now-ubiquitous device.

-From over-budget to big profits: The pilot for TOS went over budget and cost $616,000 ($4.7 million in 2016 dollars), and then was scrapped by NBC before it greenlighted the series. The 2009 reboot movie brought in $385.7 million.

Besides those found in the links above, here are some more resources you can beam up from eLibrary:

Science Fiction
Television
1960s Popular Culture