Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Farnsworth Invention

The wife and I took in the rare play (for us) this weekend: a Saturday matinee performance of "The Farnsworth Invention" at the Alley Theater. Aaron Sorkin, award-winning writer and mushroom-head, wrote it.

Here's the official blurb:

In 1929, two ambitious visionaries race against each other to introduce to the world a revolutionary new device called “television.” By the fall of 1921, an Idaho farm boy Philo T. Farnsworth had drawn a diagram of an “image dissector tube” for a prototype electronic television system. As he seeks to develop a functioning machine, Farnsworth is swept into an epic struggle with David Sarnoff, an enterprising media mogul who foresees the lucrative potential of this powerful cultural and scientific invention. Only one man will unlock the key to the greatest innovation of the 20th century and rule the airwaves. Drawn to the story about the race to create an operable television and the competition for the patent right to control the future of this technology, Aaron Sorkin describes his play as “an optimistic story about the spirit of exploration” in a National Public Radio interview. Recommended for mature audiences. Strong Language.

An optimistic story? Yeah, with big corporations screwing the little guy and perverting the airwaves with crap, I guess you can call that optimistic, if you're a corporation. It was very entertaining. I'd never heard of Farnsworth until I saw this play on the schedule. Another victim of big media. Now, Aaron, did they really say "fuck" that much back in the '20's? Really?


Pave the Whales said...

Ol' Philo has a statue in the Capitol. Thanks Utah!

Paul S. said...

Too often, "historical dramas" are reflective of the period when they are written, and less of the period they profess to portray. Hence the use of "fuck" in The Farnsworth Invention.

But you comments re: the corporate manipulation of media and messages is closer to the mark. You've never heard of Farnsworth because he lost his company in 1949, and RCA filled the vacuum. What you saw onstage in Houston is very much the corporate, RCA version of the story.

Details at