Television’s golden age ran roughly from the late 1940s to the early 1960s — a quaint period in which not a single Jersey housewife or Kardashian made it on the air. Instead, viewers were treated to classical theater and original productions from the likes of Paddy Chayefsky, Gore Vidal and Rod Serling. Great actors and directors such as John Frankenheimer and Marlon Brando earned their chops in these early productions.
This history lesson is timely because the Academy of Television Arts & Science Foundation — a charitable arm of the Emmy Awards — is repackaging many of these old shows on DVD.
Two recent releases, “The Dybbuk” and “The World of Sholom Aleichem,” illustrate how much time has changed. Both were productions of “The Play of the Week,” aired in New York City on a commercial station that is now the local PBS outlet. And both featured large dollops of Jewish folklore, mythology and tradition, in a way that would never make it to the politically correct airwaves of today.