Shows which presaged other future shows/trends

For example, Monty Python 35 years ago foreshadowed reality series, specifically The Amazing Race, when it had several contestants compete in a race around the world, albeit without using any outside transportation (IIRC the “winner” showed up at the finish line several years later, wearing rags and sporting a long grey beard). Of course at the time nobody made the connection and thought, “Hey something like that might actually work, if we let the poor buggers fly on a plane and drive a car of course…”

Any other examples of ideas like that which were before their time?

Well, there’s Gilligan’s Island before Survivor. Although Survivor seems to be comprised of mostly Gilligans and Gingers. So sad.

Actually an old and not very good Tony Curtis movie preceded the Monty Python Skit. The Great Race (1965)

I always thought American Gladiators was the horrible outgrowth of the Running Man.


There was a parody of Trading Spaces on The Dave Chappell show called Trading Spouses, and a little while later, we got both Wife Swap AND Trading Spouses.

In 1973 PBS ran a reality show called “An American Family” which used the basic model that we see today on shows like “Little People, Big World” or “The Osbournes”- film peoples lives and edit a story together.

It was of course many years later that reality TV “hit” the airwaves with “The Real World” on MTV etc etc etc.

I think that tongue-in-cheek primetime domestic dramas such as Desperate Housewives and Dirty Sexy Money owe a lot to Soap and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.

I think you are mis-remembering the “Olympic Hide and Seek” sketch (video) in which the British finalist found the Paraguayan hider in the new record time of 11years 2 months 26 days 9 hours 3 minutes 27.4 seconds, only to be found himself in 11 years 2 months 26 days 9 hours 3 minutes 27.4 seconds, resulting in a tie and a re-race. The hide and seekers did get outside transportation.

Now the film Network on the other hand did anticipate reality television, specifically “COPS”-style urban crime shows with the film’s TV series built around weekly terrorist acts, among other things.

“Max Headroom” and its blipverts presaged a number of advertising campaigns, including GE’s “one second theatre” that aired late last year or earlier this year.

The “inside television” satires of the present day are descended, albeit often indirectly, from Raymond Knight’s “Cuckoo Hour” of the early 1930s.

Those that deal specifically with news, similarly, are presaged by the BBC/NBC program “That Was The Week That Was”.

Every talent search from Gong Show to Star Search to American Idol can be traced to Major Bowes Amateur Hour (which made its debut in 1934) and its TV offshoot, Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour.

Every sitcom where a character breaks the “fourth wall” and speaks directly to the audience owes a debt to The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show. Burns once said he stole the idea from Homer.

There was the 1976 movie Tunnelvision about congressional hearings on an incredibly popular new network that had offended 90% of the population. That was just a backing story for a series of 3-minute TV/commercial parody skits that managed to hit quite a few future trends.

  • Sitcom about a family of complete amoral slobs (Married with Children)
  • Profiles on wanted fugitives, urging viewers to call in with their whereabouts (America’s Most Wanted, et al.)
  • Drug/medical treatment ads listing increasingly bizarre symptoms and side effects
  • Ad for a restaurants serving nothing but salads.
  • “Candid Camera”-style show that try to shock and endanger their victims.
  • Shock-talk shows.