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Anthology series


Anthology series

Lux Radio Theater ad art Joan Crawford

An anthology series is a radio or television series that presents a different story and a different set of characters in each episode or season. These usually have a different cast each week, but several series in the past, such as Four Star Playhouse, employed a permanent troupe of character actors who would appear in a different drama each week. Some anthology series, such as Studio One, began on radio and then expanded to television.


  • Etymology 1
  • Radio 2
    • Genre series 2.1
  • Television 3
    • American drama 3.1
    • Animation 3.2
    • British drama 3.3
    • Canadian drama 3.4
    • Children and family 3.5
    • Comedies 3.6
    • Crime dramas 3.7
    • Educational 3.8
    • Historical 3.9
    • Medical 3.10
    • Military 3.11
    • Mystery and suspense 3.12
    • Pakistani drama 3.13
    • Religious 3.14
    • Science fiction and horror 3.15
    • Westerns 3.16
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


[Medieval Greek anthologiā, collection of epigrams, from Greek, flower gathering, from anthologein, to gather flowers : antho-, antho- + logos, a gathering (from legein, to gather; see leg- in Indo-European roots).]


Many popular old-time radio programs were anthology series. On some series, such as Inner Sanctum Mysteries, the only constant was the host, who introduced and concluded each dramatic presentation. One of the earliest such programs was The Collier Hour, broadcast on the NBC Blue Network from 1927 to 1932. Radio's first major dramatic anthology, it adapted stories and serials from Collier's Weekly in a calculated move to increase subscriptions and compete with The Saturday Evening Post. Airing on the Wednesday prior to each week's distribution of the magazine, the program soon moved to Sundays in order to avoid spoilers with dramatizations of stories simultaneously appearing in the magazine.

Radio drama anthology series include:

Genre series

Radio anthology series provided a format for science fiction, horror, suspense and mystery genres (all produced in the USA, unless noted):

Nelson Olmsted of NBC's Sleep No More fantasy series.

The final episode of Suspense was broadcast on September 30, 1962, a date that has traditionally been seen as marking the end of the old-time radio era.[2] However, genre series produced since 1962 include:


In the history of television, live anthology dramas were especially popular during the Golden Age of Television of the 1950s with series such as The United States Steel Hour and The Philco Television Playhouse.

Dick Powell came up with an idea for an anthology series, Four Star Playhouse, with a rotation of established stars every week, four stars in all. The stars would own the studio and the program, as Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz had done successfully with Desilu studio. Powell had intended for the program to feature himself, Charles Boyer, Joel McCrea and Rosalind Russell. When Russell and McCrea backed out, David Niven came on board as the third star. The fourth star was initially a guest star. CBS liked the idea, and Four Star Playhouse made its debut in fall of 1952. It ran on alternate weeks only during the first season, alternating with Amos 'n' Andy. It was successful enough to be renewed and became a weekly program from the second season until the end of its run in 1956. Ida Lupino was brought on board as the de facto fourth star, though unlike Powell, Boyer and Niven, she owned no stock in the company.

American television networks would sometimes run summer anthology series which consisted of unsold television pilots.[3] Beginning in 1971, the long-run Masterpiece Theatre drama anthology series brought British productions to American television.

American drama


British drama

Canadian drama

Children and family


Crime dramas





Mystery and suspense

Pakistani drama


Science fiction and horror


See also


  1. ^ Page 20: Widner, James F & Frierson III, Meade. Science Fiction on Radio: A Revised Look At 1950-1975. Birmingham, Alabama: A.F.A.B. Publishing.
  2. ^ Chimes, Art. "Last Radio Drama". National Public Radio. Retrieved 2010-01-22. 
  3. ^ (1954)Starlight Summer TheaterRay Bradbury on Film and TV:

External links

  • National Audio Theatre: "Inebriate of Air: A Short History of Contemporary American Radio Drama" by Sarah Montague, June 8, 1999)
  • Classic TV Archive
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