Television series from before television broadcasting began

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Marco has brought to our attention in threads such as https://getsatisfaction.com/imdb/topics/blocking-tv-shows-that-cant-be-that-old the fact that there are some "TV series" listed in IMDb before the first television stations went on the air.

Some of those titles represent content that shouldn't be TV series, while other titles don't appear to be content that would be eligible for listing in IMDb in any medium.

Here are my comments on some of the titles as listed at https://www.imdb.com/search/title/?title_type=tv_series&release_date=,1928-01-01:

"Alice Comedies" (1923-1927): This refers to an actual series of animated/live-action films that Walt Disney made during the silent era. However, they were theatrical short films, not made for television. The individual films are apparently all listed in IMDb, separately, as they should be. The "episodes" of this supposed "TV series" only have numbers (#1.1, #1.2, etc.) and no descriptions or other information; see https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6352816/episodes.

"WSB News" (1922-   ): WSB is the call letters of two radio stations and one television station in Atlanta. The plot outline for this series says, "News 95-5 and AM 750 WSB - Atlanta's 24 hour news, weather, and traffic station - Depend on it!" That's a reference to the radio stations, not to anything on television or that would be eligible for IMDb listing. The premiere date for the series as listed on IMDb, March 15, 1922, is the date the AM radio station went on the air (the FM radio and TV stations came later). Only one episode is listed for this series, and it's from 2012; see https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5983102/episodes. I don't know what this listing should be, but it certainly shouldn't start in 1922.

"Palm Beach Daily News" (1897-    ): From all I can see here, this appears to be a newspaper. (See https://www.palmbeachdailynews.com/.) There are no episodes listed for this alleged series. I am not sure what could have led someone to want to submit this title to IMDb.

I may come back and comment more on the other alleged TV series from before 1928, or perhaps some other contributors can take a look at the list and explain what is wrong with  various other entries.
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gromit82, Champion

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Posted 2 months ago

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Interesting thread(s). I believe the first (moving picture) news shown for the public were in the form of newsreels shown in the film theatres.


Wiki says that it happened as early as 1908 (well, at least a few years after inventing the newsreel, I assume):

”In 1908, Pathé invented the newsreel that was shown in cinemas prior to a feature film.”


( https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pathé )


( https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newsreel )


Of course these have a very little to with ”television” (other than maybe creating the format/style of a typical news story that we see even today), but I started to wonder that maybe some of these titles (in IMDb) are referring to newsreels shown in the film theatres? I'm not necessarily talking about titles mentioned in the earlier post (or any other posts), so more like generally speaking.
(Edited)
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gromit82, Champion

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Eboy: One of the supposed TV series that I found was indeed a reference to a theatrical newsreel series: "British Pathé News" (1910-1970).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Path%C3%A9_News
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Ed Jones (XLIX)

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My biggest issue is with the data editors that see the submission as a TV Series, and don't reject the submission immediately based on the date predating television! And why is there not software code in place to stop it from being submitted at all!
(Edited)
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And why is there not software code in place to stop it from being submitted at all!

Exactly the question I asked a year ago in this thread: https://getsatisfaction.com/imdb/topics/blocking-tv-shows-that-cant-be-that-old
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Nikolay Yeriomin (Mykola Yeromin), Champion

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Ed Jones (XLIX) and Marco problem is... What constitutes "predating television", when there are things like that:

Moving Silhouette Images Broadcast (1924)
The First Television Picture with a Greyscale Image (1925)
The Televisor Broadcast (1926)

All of those are legit, if experimental TV broadcasts. And even if we're talking about non-experimental television, there was a regular television in Nazi Germany of all places. In 1935. So just setting up the restriction won't necessarily be a great way out of that problem. 
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Nikolay, that's why I asked for 1924 to be the earliest possible year for a TV Movie or TV special in this thread: https://getsatisfaction.com/imdb/topics/blocking-tv-shows-that-cant-be-that-old
(also pointed out in that thread is the difference between a TV Movie/TV Special and a TV series. For a TV series, the earliest possible year should be 1931)

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gromit82, Champion

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Nikolay: My point is that when someone submits a 1920s television broadcast, they should need to submit enough information, like a plot outline and external links, to prove to the IMDb staff that what they are submitting is a real experimental broadcast from the early days of television, and thus when IMDb users find the title, there will be enough information there to make it clear that it is an early television broadcast.

The problem is that some titles have been accepted as early TV series, when in fact they were actually theatrical cartoon series ("Alice Comedies", "Aesop's Fables", "A Paul Terry Cartoon"), or radio content ("WSB News", at least before 1948), or theatrical newsreels ("British Pathé News"), or a newspaper ("Palm Beach Daily News"). And there appear to be other titles which are errors of still other kinds.
(Edited)
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J.

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Aesop's Fables and Paul Terry Cartoons are listed separately on IMDb as shorts, as they should be.

Castle was a distributor of home movies taken from theatrical films - both features and shorts. IMDb already has Castle Films correctly listed as a company.

Eventually, IMDb will surely want to create a category called "Movie Series." This category would allow contributors to collect single films into a series. Titles in a movie series would NOT be subordinate to the series, the way TV episodes are. They would remain standalone titles; but users would be able to see them all on a handy list.

Right now, IMDb does not have an easy way to look at, say, all the Star Wars films, all the Tom and Jerry shorts, all the Children of the Corn sequels, etc. People clearly want this, because they're constantly creating these faux TV series to make it happen.
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J.
Eventually, IMDb will surely want to create a category called "Movie Series."

The Movie Series was actually called a "Serial" back when they were a new concept.
So it should be  "Movie Serials"
(Edited)
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J.

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The Movie Series would have to be distinct from a Movie Serial. You can't classify the Tom and Jerry shorts or the Rocky films as serials.
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Ed Jones (XLIX)

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Those are not movies.
Those are "Cartoon Series"

There are also the "Newsreel Series"
But movies are Serials
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J.

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The "Tom and Jerry" cartoons and the Three Stooges comedies are short movies. Or short subjects. Or movie shorts. See: Leonard Maltin's "The Great Movie Shorts."
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Ed Jones (XLIX)

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Short Subjects is the correct terminology. I hate to admit this as it makes me sound old but when I went to a movie theater as a little boy a short 1 minute trailer that just projected the image that said "And now this short subject for your enjoyment"

Image result for 1940 movie short subject
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J.

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"Short subject" and "movie short" are both correct.
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Right now, IMDb does not have an easy way to look at, say, all the Star Wars films,
The Connections page?
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2527338/movieconnections
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J.

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The Connections page is okay, but I believe users want something that shows up in search.

You can also find a list of the Tom and Jerry cartoons on the Connections pages, but that doesn't stop these incessant attempts to turn the theatrical shorts into a TV series. Ditto the Three Stooges, Bugs Bunny, etc.
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J.

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I just thought of something. We can already use the list function to create a list of titles in a series. Many of these lists already exist.

What if these particular lists came up in search? For example, if you search for "Star Wars", your results would be the same as they are currently, except now a user-created list called "Star Wars" would also pop up. The list would include all the Star Wars films.

There could also be other Star Wars-related lists. One for just the numbered titles in the saga. One for the off-shoots, like HAN SOLO and ROGUE ONE. And there's no reason a title could not appear on several lists. You could also have a list that included every official Star Wars title in the database, even the TV series and video games.

The lists could be "The Three Stooges", "Tom and Jerry", "Bugs Bunny" (the titles of which, incidentally, would simultaneously appear in two other lists called "Looney Tunes" and "Merrie Melodies"), "Alice Comedies", "Laurel and Hardy," etc., etc., etc.
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Another "TV series" from before television existed:

"Urban Legends" (1905-    ): This supposed TV series has no country of origin, no genre, no plot description, no cast, no crew, no production company, no external links of any kind, and no language (well, I guess it would have to be silent if it was from 1905). The only thing that seems to be known about it is a supposed release date in the USA of June 1905, at a time when television was merely theoretical and had never even been demonstrated. Beside, the term "urban legend" is not known to have appeared in print before 1931. If this series refers to anything at all, I don't know how we could possibly identify it due to the lack of data on its IMDb page.
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I'd be willing to bet that a lot of Silent Era listings are questionable!
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Someone has added these two titles: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6964620/reference and https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6280424/reference. Why do people feel the need to make a tv series when there isn't one?


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Because IMDb removed the Character pages (Nov 2017)?

The Betty Boop title actually relates to an Amazon offering of multiple BB cartoons. So it's a "series" online in 2019, of cartoons created in the 1930s. This relates to another open thread about repackaging series episodes (questions unanswered there too.) I disagree heartily with having theatrical cartoons listed as a TV series during the 30s. History corrupted.

The Little Rascals title has no episodes, and likely no basis in fact as an ongoing TV series beginning in 1930, so the title should be removed.
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Didn't the staff just remove a LITTLE RASCALS series, or is that the same one as before?
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And here's another "TV series" from before television existed:

"FoxyTV" (1916-    ): This is supposed to be a talk show, and it's possible that such a show might have existed at some point, but I seriously doubt that it was in 1916. The purported release date of this series is 11 November 2015 ... on the Internet (see https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5553344/releaseinfo). The official sites for this show are videos no longer available on YouTube (see https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5553344/externalsites).

There are two crew members listed for this series, Michael J. Smith (IV) and Shannon Fox (VI). The show has one episode, "Brian E Sibley", which supposedly aired 14 May 1916. And here's the show's logo (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5553344/mediaviewer/rm2481852672) which doesn't really look like something from the 1910s.

I think that this might be a real production (although I'm not certain) ... but it's definitely not a TV series from 1916.
(Edited)
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Wow, this one is odd. Maybe they somehow erroneously entered 1916 instead of 2016?.. 
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I decided to look at some of the television series listed in IMDb from the 1930s. Admittedly, television did exist during this era ... but not all of these titles were really television series.

"Betty Boop" (1930-1939): Yet another series of animated cartoons, made for theatrical release, being erroneously listed as a TV series.

"The Little Rascals Classics" (1930-    )
"The Little Rascals Classics" (1932-    ) (I)
"The Little Rascals Classics" (1932-    ) (II): These appear to be three different entries referring to the exact same series -- which was a series of live-action shorts made for theatrical release, not for television. Furthermore, in the 1930s, the series was known as "Our Gang", not "The Little Rascals" (much less "The Little Rascals Classics").

"US Midterm Elections" (1930-    ): This is a very confused entry. It purports to be a TV series consisting of news reports about elections in the USA. All of the cast are BBC news presenters, so does this reflect BBC news coverage in the 1930s of American elections? Well, no, because the release date for this supposed 1930 TV series is 29 October 1962 in the UK (see https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7051530/releaseinfo). The presenters include Jon Sopel, who was born in 1959, and Katty Kay, who was born in 1964; I didn't see birthdates for any of the other cast members.  Generally it's a bad idea to put a TV show on the air 29 years before any of the cast members are born, and even if you prefer to believe the 1962 release date, I wouldn't want to hire a 3-year-old child to host a political news program. By the way, this BBC program lists the USA as its country of origin. But the country of origin is where the production companies are from -- which, for a BBC show, would be the UK -- not the country where the show is filmed or that the show is about.

"Dick & Larry" (1931-1933): Yet another theatrical cartoon series mislabeled as a TV series, but this one is also mistitled. This series refers to Van Beuren Studios' cartoons about two human characters who, at the time the cartoons were originally released, were named Tom and Jerry. At that time, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera had not yet created the cat and mouse characters Tom and Jerry, who debuted in MGM cartoons in 1940 and became much more famous and popular than Van Beuren's Tom and Jerry ever were. The cat and mouse became so famous that when the Van Beuren cartoons were later sold to television, the human characters were renamed Dick and Larry to avoid confusion with the cat and mouse. IMDb has a keyword for the Van Beuren characters: "human tom and jerry" (https://www.imdb.com/search/keyword/?keywords=human-tom-and-jerry). In any event, this isn't a TV series, but even if it were, it wouldn't be called "Dick & Larry" because those names were not used until much later.
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Gromit, I applaud all the work you're doing regarding this issue! Hopefully, staff will pick up on this and take some action.
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Hi All -

Thanks for all your comments and observations on this thread.  I have filed a ticket for our editorial team to investigate the title listings mentioned and review possible further steps to block or prevent a "TV Series" listing for new title additions that pre-date television.

Once there is action on the ticket I will relay the status with you here. 
(Edited)
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A few television series from the early 1940s which should not be listed as such:

"Gabby" (1940-1941): A series of theatrical animated shorts.

"Noveltoon" (1943-1967): Another series of theatrical animated shorts.

"Barnyard WAAC" (1942-    ): This isn't even a series of theatrical animated shorts; it's just one theatrical animated short.

"Allen and Kendal" (1940-2015): This looks to be some kind of YouTube production although it is not labeled as such. (See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xeOPcRxgBM.) The character names are taken from the main characters of "I Love Lucy" (1951), and the photos suggest that this production didn't exist until the 21st century. If this thing belongs on IMDb at all, it should be listed with a start date much, much closer to the present day.
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Wow, well spotted Gromit!