Want to see the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show (1964), or Edward R. Murrow's examination of Joseph McCarthy (1954), or Arnold Palmer's victory in the 1958 Masters Tournament; or want to listen to radio excerpts like FDR's first "Fireside Chat" (1933) and Orson Welles's famous War of the Worlds UFO hoax (1938)? All these, plus a gazillion episodes of The Twilight Zone, I Love Lucy, and other beloved series (including numerous pilots never aired on national television), can be viewed within the starkly white walls of architect Richard Meier's neutral, contemporary building. Like the ritzy Beverly Hills shopping district that surrounds it, the Center (formerly the Museum of Television and Radio) is more flash than substance. Once you gawk at the celebrity and industry-honcho names adorning every hall, room, and miscellaneous area, it becomes quickly apparent that "library" would be a more fitting name for this collection, since the main attractions -- 120,000 television and radio programs and commercials -- are requested via sophisticated computer catalogs and viewed in private consoles. Although no one sets out to spend a vacation watching TV, it can be tempting once you start browsing the archives. This West Coast branch of the venerable New York facility succeeds in treating our culture's favorite pastime as a legitimate art form of historical significance.
- © Frommer's 2013
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