Sunday, September 14, 2014

Classic TV: Meeting of Minds (1977)

Steve Allen was always a thinking man's comedian. Credited with inventing the talk show concept, Allen took it one step further with a PBS entry, Meeting of Minds, which launched in 1977.

The history books tell us that Meeting's genesis actually was some 20-odd years earlier, while Allen was doing a sketch comedy show, and he wanted to incorporate Meeting as a segment on the show. A sponsor objected, and the segment was never produced. In the interim, a similarly themed Canadian series, Witness to Yesterday, bowed in 1974, and Allen appeared on the show as George Gershwin in 1976.

Bolstered by the fact that the idea for Meeting, had, in fact, come to fruition after all, Allen re-mounted plans for Meeting, and while you think PBS was perhaps not the first choice, consider that in later years, Allen would become a bit of a moral zealot, associating himself with the likes of the Parents Television Council. Clearly, the broadcast networks wanted no part of Meeting, so PBS was, in truth, the only option.

Meeting of Minds lasted for four years, but today, languishes in the vaults somewhere, awaiting a DVD release, depending on who holds the rights. It might be Allen's estate, or PBS, or someone else. Until then, let us consider this sample episode:

Rating: A.


magicdog said...

Steve Allen was an American treasure and we lost much when he passed.

He indeed was the thinking man's comedian. He was a man of many talents - a musician, actor and author. Truly a renaissance man!

I must however disagree with your assessment of Allen as a "moral zealot!" In the last 20 years or so of his life, he spoke out against the crass programming and so called "entertainment" which was dominating the airwaves and theatres. IMO, he was right. He always tried to keep it classy and intelligent, as most of his generation had done.

Don't count out the Parent's Television Council either. At least you get a guideline of what should be shown to kids of a certain age. Far too many people today just watch something on TV that is far too inappropriate for the younger kids in the room, rather than screening it first.

hobbyfan said...

The problem with the PTC is that they're coming off as a bunch of whiners.

They'd censor the nightly news if they could get away with it.

My problem with the PTC is that their mindset is stuck in the golden age of television. They don't care that some dramatic shows are willing to take chances in the storytelling in order to make it more realistic. Yes, you can do without the coarse language that goes with it, but Hollywood sees that as part of the "realistic" approach.

I don't watch much primetime TV myself other than sports. If I'm interested in something that's new this season, there's always On Demand. Viewers today have options involving their remote controls. PTC wants to do the thinking for the viewers, and they shouldn't. We live in a free country, after all.