Digging for answers. Before Cable Television and the creation of the Internet, most Americans had only a few choices when it came to T.V. Channels that could be tuned in at home. At the time, there were the three major Networks and maybe a few local stations for the viewer to pick from.
The Networks naturally chose to produce those programs that would generate the most income, mainly by # of viewers. Comedies, Action Shows, Medical Dramas etc., were common choices. They all had one thing in common: To Entertain, not to inform.
In those days shows about Science and the Natural World were few, and mainly relegated to certain stations. These would be broadcast at odd days and times, in the hopes of gathering acceptable ratings. However, there were a few examples of shows that could generate public interest, even though they emphasized the educational nature of the subject matter.
NOVA- First broadcast in 1974, NOVA specializes in Scientific Documentaries that are thought provoking with excellent production values. Especially noted for its award winning writing and editing.
COSMOS- (The 1980 version, hosted by Carl Sagan. This is not meant to take anything away from the superb 2014 version hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson). I can think of no other show that was as instrumental in inciting public interest in any single branch of Science. (Cosmology).
WILD KINGDOM- Began Broadcasting in 1963. By tuning in, many children got their first look at exotic animals from around the World, living in a natural habitat. Sponsored by Mutual of Omaha, it made original host Marlin Perkins into a Cultural Icon.
Unfortunately, another show premiered in the 1970s, which would become the first of a long list of programs pretending to use the Scientific Method and Critical Thinking to evaluate controversial subject matter. I am referring to the Leonard Nimoy hosted show "IN SEARCH OF."
See PT 2.
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