Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > TV > African American > Compilation > TV In Black - The First 50 Years

TV In Black – The First Fifty Years (Documentary)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: D     Main Program: B



There have been a few looks at African Americans on TV, going back to the beginning of the medium when they were barely seen.  From those lean days, to groundbreaking shows in the 1960s and 1970s, to the ups and downs of the medium in its current state, TV In Black – The First Fifty Years (2003) is the most thorough look at the history and contributions these talents made to the medium.  When all is said and done, you realize how much worse TV would have been without black talent.


Besides rarely seen clips and little known facts, including prejudice against the likes of Dinah Shore for just having reached out to touch a black guest (resulting in the rumor that she had one black parent), it works its way to Bill Cosby on I Spy, The Flip Wilson Show, Diahann Carroll as Julia, and somehow misses Gail Fisher as Peggy on Mannix and Greg Morris on Mission: Impossible.  After Room 222, it moves on to the Norman Lear sitcoms (All In The Family, The Jeffersons, Sanford & Son and Good Times among them).  After rollback in the 1980s, even after The Cosby Show and the bolder Frank’s Place, a modern era kicks in where African Americans take a more permanent place in the medium for good.


This is about 100 minutes and very well rounded.  There are many new interviews done for the program as well.  This is exceptionally well thought out and presented.  It also reminds us about how good and priceless quality TV can be.  This is a must-see documentary that everyone who loves TV can appreciate, no matter who they are.


The full screen image is varied, but originated on analog videotape.  This is good enough, especially when you see the many archive clips that have survived.  The big surprise is clips on film to promote the videotaped Norman Lear sitcoms, something with in the program that we are not seeing in the many DVD boxed sets of these shows from Columbia-TriStar Home Video.  The rich amount of rarely seen clips here will be rarely repeated due to all the renewed copyright concerns, making all this very archival for fans.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 sound is simple stereo, but just fine for what it is, but it is void of surrounds.


It should also be said that there are no explicit extras, but the main program is loaded with so many clips, you will not notice as much.  I was also impressed with the way the show dealt with stereotypes, as well as their various aspects and types, a debate that continues to this day.  Points go to the actress Monique for never forgetting that it is a business like any other in her interview segments.  If you have lost track of some important steps forward in TV because it has become so bad that you tuned out, TV In Black – The First Fifty Years shows there is hope for the old boob tube yet.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com