By Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist Published Jan 18, 2011 at 11:00 AM

PBS' "Pioneers of Television" returns tonight at 7 on Channel 10 with an interesting look at the rise of science fiction on TV, with a focus on the trailblazing original "Star Trek."

While this second season of four weekly episodes is starting with a look at the stars, it's important to know that some of what you're seeing was filmed in the Milwaukee area, since "Pioneers" is the product of Milwaukee-based
Boettcher/Trinklein Productions.

And partners Steve Boettcher and Mike Trinklein used Milwaukee area settings for tonight's episode. An Ozaukee County site was remade as the 1950s L.A. hot spot "Star Trek" creator Gene Rodenberry hit on his quest to start a TV career, as I noted in an October 2009 column.

And "Lost in Space" sci-fi schlockmeister Irwin Allen's studio is recreated at the old Channel 6 studios, now Acme Production Services, 5445 N. 27th St.

"Milwaukee can represent a lot of different locales," Boettcher told me in a phone interview. "The lakefront looks like the Pacific Ocean," he said.

Allen and Rodenberry, along with "The Twilight Zone" creator Rod Serling, are the core of tonight's episode, which features many of the players in "Star Trek," "Lost in Space" and "The Twilight Zone" talking about the shows, and how they were made.

Boettcher says the show is a way to "reminisce through the eyes of the pioneers." Those pioneers include William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and Nichelle Nichols.

It's the trademark of "Pioneers" to do extensive interviews with TV legends.

Said Trinklein,"Why is a Milwaukee firm doing the story of Hollywood. I think a lot of these celebrities respond ot good old Midwestern politeness and diligence."

The most noticeable change in this run of "Pioneers of Television" is the addition of a recognizable narrator, Kelsey Grammer, a perfect fit on a couple levels. First, his voice serves as a fine bridge for the clips, offering enough personality without getting in the way.

But he's also a something of a pioneer himself, creating a character that spanned two long-running sitcoms.

"He, in a sense, is part of this," said Boettcher.

Speaking of pioneers, here's a little bit of Nimoy, talking about his pre-"Star Trek" days:

On TV: Milwaukee was again the top market for Saturday night's Green Bay-Atlanta game, which was Fox's most-watched telecast in the time slot in 15 years with 30.8 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. It hasn't been topped since 1996 when the Green Bay-San Francisco playoff pulled in 32 million viewers.

  • Regis Philbin announced at the opening of today's "Live! with Regis and Kelly" that he's retiring at the end of the summer. The show airs at 9 a.m. weekdays on Channel 12.
  • The New York Times' "Carpetblogger" reports that Ricky Gervais' one-hour absence from Sunday's Golden Globes was planned. Meanwhile, Gervais is scheduled to visit CNN's Piers Morgan at 8 p.m. Thursday, so he may tell us if he got chewed out back stage for doing the comedy he always does.
  • Discovery Health Channel, displaced by the new Oprah Winfrey Network, is being merged with FitTV as Discovery Fit & Health. The rebrandeded channel will launch Feb. 1.
  • Starz says 28-year-old Australian actor Liam McIntyre will take on the title role in its "Spartacus: Blood and Sand." He replaces Andy Whitfield, who has left the series to battle cancer. The next season begins production this spring.
  • Us Magazine reports Anne Hathaway will guest on "Glee" as Kurt's lesbian aunt.

Two nations, divided by a common language: The quote is attribute to everybody from Winston Churchill to Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw.

Whoever said it first,  it's a good definition of U.S. English vs. British English as demonstrated in this funny video from BBC America on how to decipher "Law & Order: U.K.," which airs Fridays at 8 p.m. on the cable/satellite channel:

Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist

Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.

A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.

In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at

When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.