TNB Night Owl – Meeting Of Minds

Steve Allen with Jayne Meadows, photo by Alan Light

There are many failed television programs which, having dragged viewers through a handful of predictable mystery plots or regurgitated jokes for a few episodes, are cancelled and subsequently forgotten by all save trivia mavens. There are not many successful television programs which meet the same fate.

Some do exist, however. As evidence: Meeting of Minds.

Meeting of Minds was a PBS show featuring Steve Allen as host, but starring four famous historical figures. Those people would then sit and discuss not simply events of the day but the philosophies and viewpoints which had elevated them on the historical stage. It ran for four seasons and won both an Emmy and a Peabody award, in addition to racking up multiple other Emmy nominations.

Episodes were arranged with the same guests on two successive episodes, allowing the actors portraying the figures to make the most out of the makeup and costuming efforts of the crew. The historical personages were chosen to produce contrasting opinions for the discussion.

Examples are Cleopatra, Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Aquinas and Thomas Paine from episodes 1 &2, or Susan B. Anthony, Socrates, Sir Francis Bacon and Emiliano Zapata from season 2.

The scripts were written with the aid of historians, with the multitalented Allen lending his wit to introduce humor into the conversation.

Despite the effort put into the show and the moderate level of success, it has never been produced on DVD or Blu-Ray. Collectors typically pay $50 or more for official VHS copies, when they can be found. They are available as audiobooks, but they’re rarely seen as available for viewing on most streaming services. With that lack of promotion, the series has effectively drifted off into the realm of forgotten television.

If any group of people might appreciate it for viewing, I suspect that group might be visitors to The News Blender. Thankfully, the magic of Youtube has made it possible.

In one notable instance, it even hosted a conversation between Shakespeare and various Shakesperean characters.

Question of the night: What’s your favorite show to have been broadcast on PBS?

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About AlienMotives 1275 Articles
Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.