Synopsis by Hal Erickson
This three-part documentary series was a particularly ambitious undertaking for TV Land, a cable service usually devoted to reruns of classic video series. Each two-hour episode focused on a different aspect of the presence (or absence) of African-Americans on network television. Part one, "Variety," featured vintage clips of such pioneering black stars as Nat "King" Cole, Leslie Uggams, and the Wayans Brothers, with special emphasis given the rocky TV career of Sammy Davis Jr. Part two, "Drama," focused on the problems faced by producers of the 1950s and 1960s in finding widespread audience acceptance for such dynamic black performers as Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee, and the doors that were opened (albeit not widely) by the landmark miniseries Roots. And in part three, "Comedy," the viewer was treated to a kaleidoscope of sitcoms ranging from Amos 'n' Andy to The Cosby Show; extra attention was given to the WB and UPN networks, lavishing praise on these two broadcast services for offering a larger than usual selection of black comedy programs, while at the same time chastising them for "abandoning" popular series once they'd been established. Inside TV Land: African Americans was shown over a three-week period beginning February 1, 2002.