This Was Television On July 4

1974: CBS launches Bicentennial Minutes

History has always been rare on TV, even in the days before Chuck Grassley could lament the dumbing-down of a cable channel with that subject in its name. But with the 200th birth of the U.S. of A. on the horizon, CBS began offering up minute-long episodes relating nuggets from the nation’s past. The events were narrated by celebrities, such as Charlton Heston, who kicked off the series with a tale of George Washington’s reaction to the closing of Boston Harbor by the British in the wake of the Boston Tea Party. The series capped off its 732-episode run on July 4, 1976, with then-First Lady Betty Ford doing the narration honors. 

Although the Minutes were well-intentioned, you do have to wonder how much of an audience there is for glib accounts of what random event happened to occur on each given date in history. Really, it’s a pretty lazy conceit. -A.D.

Today’s Birthdays: Becki Newton, Ugly Betty nemesis (34); Geraldo Rivera, vault raider (69); Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, only making this list because it is a slow damn day for TV celebrity births (30).

3 Responses to “This Was Television On July 4”

  1. Scott Moore"

    A lazy conceit? Well, A.D., I’m old enough to remember those “Minutes,” as well as other programming leading up to the Bicentennial. There is nothing “lazy” about television production at the network level. You, who have never produced anything more substantial than this internet ephemera, deride more than twelve hours of film broadcast over two years as “lazy.” Twitter is lazy. These posts are lazy. And self-important. And disrespectful of the men and women who actually worked in a once-proud medium that was treated as a public trust. Our nation was being torn apart by a hopeless war in Viet Nam and a constitutional crisis at home. It was television that revealed our sordid nature, but it also celebrated our proud heritage. Those “Minutes” meant something to the youth of that generation. Its message will last longer than yours.

    • Noel Kirkpatrick

      Scott, I think you missed the self-deprecation indicated in that last paragraph that poked fun at exactly the notion that these posts aren’t exactly as important as what Minutes sought to do.

      Also: Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment and boost the time on site and pageview metrics. We appreciate it.


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