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A television special (often TV special, or rarely "television spectacular") is a stand-alone television show which temporarily interrupts episodic programming normally scheduled for a given time slot. Specials have been produced which provide a full range of entertainment and informational value available via the television medium (news, drama, comedy, variety, cultural), in various formats (live television, documentary, studio production, animation, film), and in any viewing lengths (short films, feature films, miniseries, telethons).
The types of shows described as television specials include:
The production of early television shows was very expensive, with few guarantees of public success, and ongoing (weekly) shows typically required a single, major sponsor to operate. As such, a good deal of programming was one-off shows, accommodating smaller sponsors and not requiring a loyal audience following. As the industry matured, this trend reversed; by the 1950s, most networks aimed to provide stable, routine, and proven content to their audiences. Television executives, such as CBS president James Aubrey, sought to avoid any disruption in viewing habits which might cause viewers to move to another network. These weekly series, though, typically became too expensive for any single sponsor, so stand-alone shows offered a way to continue accommodating the single-sponsor practice, leading to shows like Amahl and the Night Visitors (1951, sponsored by Hallmark Cards as part of the Hallmark Television Playhouse ) and the Ford 50th Anniversary Show (1953, a two-hour variety show simulcast on both CBS and NBC).
In 1954, NBC president Sylvester Weaver pioneered an innovative style of programming which he called "spectaculars".These stand-alone broadcasts, usually 90 minutes in length, were designed to attract large, new audiences and bring prestige to the network. The spectaculars aired on three nights every fourth week - a major gamble because it controversially broke up viewer routines and risked stable weekly sponsorship deals.
To address this, Weaver used his "magazine" style which involved selling segments of each show to a different sponsor, a practice which would evolve into the modern "commercial". The three initial spectacular blocks were Hallmark Hall of Fame (Sundays, produced by Albert McCleery), Producer's Showcase (Mondays, produced by Fred Coe), Max Liebman Presents (Saturdays, produced by Max Liebman). In time, the term "spectacular" was seen as hyperbolic, and so led to the more modern and modest term, "special".Weaver's strategy was not as successful as CBS's predictably scheduled and prefilmed programs, and he was fired in 1956.
In the 1960s, multi-part specials, aired over several days in a week or on the same day for several weeks, evolved from this format, though these were more commonly called miniseries. The term "TV special" formerly applied more to dramas or musicals presented live or on videotape (such as Peter Pan ) than to filmed presentations especially made for television, which were (and still are) referred to as made-for-TV movies.
In the era before cable and home video, television audiences often had to wait an entire year or more to see a special program or film that had a great impact on first viewing. Today, online streaming often makes it possible for viewers to watch a television show again almost immediately after it is aired, and home video—which has largely given way to digital downloads—makes it possible for the general public to own copies of television shows and films.
I Love Lucy is an American television sitcom that originally aired on CBS from October 15, 1951, to May 6, 1957, with a total of 180 half-hour episodes spanning six seasons. The show starred Lucille Ball, her then real-life husband Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, and William Frawley. It followed the life of Lucy Ricardo (Ball), a young middle-class housewife in New York City, who often concocted plans with her best friends Ethel and Fred Mertz to appear alongside her bandleader husband Ricky Ricardo (Arnaz) in his nightclub, trying numerous schemes to mingle with, or be a part of show business. After the series ended in 1957, a modified version continued for three more seasons with 13 one-hour specials; it ran from 1957 to 1960. It was first known as The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show and later in reruns as The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour.
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Alison Ann Sweeney is an American actress, reality show host, director and author. Sweeney is best known for her portrayal of Samantha "Sami" Brady on the NBC soap opera Days of Our Lives, a role she played under contract with the show from January 6, 1993 to October 30, 2014. In this role, she has earned a Daytime Emmy Award nomination, four Soap Opera Digest Awards and a Fan Voted Daytime Emmy Award. In 2007, she became the host of The Biggest Loser in its fourth season, and left the series at the end of the sixteenth season in 2015.
Sea Hunt is an American action adventure television series that aired in syndication from 1958 to 1961 and was popular for decades afterwards. The series originally aired for four seasons, with 155 episodes produced. It stars Lloyd Bridges as former Navy diver Mike Nelson, and was produced by Ivan Tors.
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U.S. television science fiction is a popular genre of television in the United States that has produced many of the best-known and most popular science fiction shows in the world. Most famous of all, and one of the most influential science-fiction series in history, is the iconic Star Trek and its various spin-off shows, which comprise the Star Trek franchise. Other hugely influential programs have included the 1960s anthology series The Twilight Zone, the internationally successful The X-Files, and a wide variety of television movies and continuing series for more than half a century.
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Hallmark Hall of Fame, originally called Hallmark Television Playhouse, is an anthology program on American television, sponsored by Hallmark Cards, a Kansas City-based greeting card company. The longest-running prime-time series in the history of television, it first aired in 1951 and continues into the present day. From 1954 onward, all of its productions have been broadcast in color. It was one of the first video productions to telecast in color, a rarity in the 1950s. Many television movies have been shown on the program since its debut, though the program began with live telecasts of dramas and then changed to videotaped productions before finally changing to filmed ones.
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Dennis James was an American television personality, philanthropist, and commercial spokesman. Up until 1976, he had appeared on TV more times and for a longer period than any other television star. Alternately referred to as "The Dean of Game Show Hosts" and the "Godfather of Gameshows", he is credited as the host of television's first network game show, the DuMont Network's Cash and Carry (1946).
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Brewster Place is an American drama series which aired on ABC in May 1990. The series was a spinoff of the 1989 miniseries The Women of Brewster Place, which was based upon Gloria Naylor's novel of the same name. The series starred talk show host Oprah Winfrey, who also served as co-executive producer.
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Event television is a television network marketing concept which arose in the early 2010s and is characterized by a shift in priorities towards enticing audiences to watch programming immediately as it is broadcast. This is largely in response to the tendency of modern audiences to time shift programming (DVR) or view using on-demand streaming services, which has produced a steady decline in live viewership ratings.
The successful comic strip Peanuts, by Charles M. Schulz, was adapted into 45 animated specials from 1965 to 2011, most of them released on television. This article describes the history of these programs, including notable sponsors, directors, and voice actors.