August 12, 2014 11:02 AM EDT

While Playhouse 90 was unquestionably a great show, it wasn’t really a great *TV* show; it was a theater repertory producing stage plays that happened to have cameras pointed at them. But TV is a distribution tool as well as an art form, and Playhouse 90 produced some of the finest writing and acting that TV’s electrons have managed to carry. Its original productions—often performed live—included Requiem for a Heavyweight and The Miracle Worker, while its adaptations brought writers like George Bernard Shaw and William Faulkner some of the biggest audiences they would ever have. Later TV dramas took advantage of the wider possibilities that videotaping offered, but this anthology gave them a high target to aim for.

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