“A Gifted Prodigy”

Another early assessment of a "preview" performance of The Farnsworth Invention:

Dear Sir,

I found your Web site after searching for Farnsworth material after I saw "The Farnsworth Invention" Thursday night on Broadway.

My opinion: Those who have studied in great detail the history of Philo Farnsworth and David Sarnoff can’t help but be disappointed in how the play presents many details. But I fear that’s an inevitable consequence when 20 years of scientific research and legal wrangling are condensed into two hours.

Yet, overall, I felt the play was a powerful tribute to Farnsworth’s brilliance as an inventor and an insightful look at two men who were instrumental in the development of television. Farnsworth, the inventor, comes across as a gifted prodigy with breakthrough ideas, yet who is hamstrung by the daunting obstacles of his embryonic device and by a few understandable human weaknesses (notably drinking). Sarnoff comes across as ruthless in his drive to control television’s crucial patents, largely because he has the vision to see what a powerful new medium television will become. "The ends justify the means," he says at one point. "That’s what means are for."

Like others, I saw a strong similarity in "Farnsworth" to "Frost/Nixon," and I predict NYC reviewers will be impressed. Hank Azaria does a particularly masterful job in conveying Sarnoff’s single-minded ruthlessness without making him a cartoonish villain.

For what it’s worth ….

SC, New York, NY

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if the ends justifying the means will apply to the play itself. Hopefully people who see the play will be compelled to rush home to their computers to seek more information on the web, where they will discover that the real Philo Farnsworth was not nearly as “sad and desperate” as one observer commented after seeing the “I’ve Got A Secret” footage over at YouTube

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *