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Program Structure in From Here to the Seventies

by Ethan Thompson

[commentary by Megan Lee]

From Here to the Seventies was a program made at the end of one of the most turbulent decades in living memory. Using words and montage as structuring devices, the program strove to predict the upcoming decade for an audience tired of having their “hopes shot down and [their] expectations burned out.”

Understanding the recent decade is the main way by which the program attempts to explain the past. The strategy is not a new one, but there’s a cautiousness in predicting the future too much evident throughout—words like “portend” rather than ‘predict’ and definitive statements being softened from certainty with caveats like “may be” and “start to.” “It’s not a history; it’s not complete,” cautions the host, with the hesitance of a person trying not to get anyone’s hopes up, “but it is a series of impressions.”

That careful description was taken to heart in the structuring of the program. Each portion, as well as the program as a whole, begins with a montage—fleeting impressions of the subject at hand—and in those montages are words. The montages give a structure and coherence to an otherwise largely unrelated series of topics—each with the goal of predicting a modest likelihood for the upcoming decade. As The Byrd’s melancholic “Turn! Turn! Turn!” plays, words flash across the screen cuing the viewer on what to expect. The series of impressions are those of trepidation—“Confrontation” is immediately followed by “Black”—and hope—ABM, Transplant. “To everything there is a season,” as the song points out.
Cognizant of the disillusionment of its audience, From Here to the Seventies presents a cautious but modestly hopeful view of the future. Unbridled optimism as was seen at the beginning of the decade would be met with scorn, but fatalism would further depress the public—and likely make viewers switch channels. A reprieve was needed, and that’s what the program aimed to provide, as illustrated by Paul Newman’s first words onscreen: “Well, we made it.”

Program Structure in From Here to the Seventies

This is the title sequence and introductory monologue from From Here to the Seventies.

from From Here to the Seventies (1969)
Creator: NBC
Distributor: Peabody Archive
Posted by Ethan Thompson