History of Television from Broadcast to the Digital Era

Critical Essay #1 Assignment Description
In this essay, you will conduct a critical analysis of a television show that aired before 1980,
selecting a particular episode to examine in depth. The essay should situate the show in relation
to its historical and industrial context in order to conduct a critical analysis of a particular
The Essay should address the following questions/issues:
When did the show air historically and on what network? Was the show part of daytime
or prime-time programming? What is its genre? What other shows did it compete with at
the time, and what made your selected show unique?
What is the overarching concept of the show? How does the show’s overarching concept
relate to social or political issues that were prominent in American life at the time of its
airing? Who is the intended audience?
Considering television’s primary role as a medium of social communication, what does a
close reading of a specific episode reveal about the show’s political messaging and
American culture in the late-20th century?
The essay should include at least 3 scholarly citations, which might include course readings, the
Lotz book (esp. pp. 21-25), scholarly articles on your selected show, or scholarly articles on
shows that clearly relate to your selected show in terms of its history and/or genre. The essay
should also use historical context as presented in class discussion/lectures, although you need not
cite this in the bibliography.
The essay should include a thesis statement that succinctly offers the main point you want
readers to understand about social, political, cultural, aesthetic, and/or historical significance of
the show you select. You should not feel compelled to address all of these issues, as particular
shows are significant in specific ways.
The essay should be 1,250-1,500 words double-spaced (approx. 5-6 pages), with 1-inch margins
and 12-point Times New Roman font. Use MLA guidelines for citation(s).
It is crucially important that the essay is cleanly written. Avoid mistakes in spelling, grammar,
and punctuation. Sentence structure should be clearly legible. It might be a good idea to visit the
writing center for pragmatic help on this front.
Below, you will find a list of selected shows that aired before 1980 in order to help in the
selection process. You are completely free to select a show not on this list.Select TV Shows: 1950-1979
The Adventures of Dr. Fu Manchu
The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin
Adventures of Superman
Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Buck Rogers
Captain Kangaroo
The Donna Reed Show
The Ed Sullivan Show
The Ernie Kovacs Show
Father Knows Best
Flash Gordon
The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show
The Goldbergs
Howdy Doody
I Spy
Leave It to Beaver
Perry Mason
Peter Gunn
Sea Hunt
See It Now
Texaco Star Theater
Playhouse 90
This Is Your Life
You Bet Your Life
Your Show of Shows
The Addams Family
The Andy Griffith Show
The Beverly Hillbillies
Captain Kangaroo
Car 54, Where Are You?
Dark Shadow
Days of Our Lives
The Dick Van Dyke Show
Elvis (’68 Comeback Special)
F Troop
The Fugitive
Get Smart
Gilligan’s Island
Green Acres
The Green Hornet
Guiding Light
H.R. Pufnstuf
Hawaii Five-O
Hee Haw
Hogan’s Heros
The Johnny Cash Show
The Mod Squad
The Man from U.N.K.L.E.
Mission: Impossible
Mister Ed
Mister Roger’s Neighborhood
The Monkees
The Munsters
My Favorite Martian
My Living Doll
My Mother the Car
My Three Sons
Naked City
The Patty Duke Show
Petticoat Junction
Playboy’s Penthouse
Romper Room
The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour
Star Trek
That Girl
All My Children
The Amazing Spider-Man
Battlestar Galactica
I Dream of Jeannie
The Brady Bunch
The Carol Burnett Show
Charlie’s Angels
The Sonny & Cher Comedy HourColumbo
The Partridge Family
The Dick Cavett Show
Diff’rent Strokes
Eight is Enough
Fantasy Island
Hart to Hart
The Incredible Hulk
The Jeffersons
Good Times
Kolchak: The Night Stalker
Kung Fu
The Mickey Mouse Club
The Odd Couple
Police Story
Sanford and Son
The Six Million Dollar Man
The Streets of San Francisco
Starsky & Hutch
Three’s Company
The Waltons