Say the words "revolution" and "Northern California" in the same sentence, and you wouldn't be blamed for conjuring images of Beat Generation poets or Berkeley hippies. But the revolution discussed on "Silicon Valley" (9 p.m., PBS), an "American Ex perience" presentation, was hatched by guys with skinny ties, slide rules and multiple doctorates in
and chemistry And it proved to be much more permanent and profound. "Valley" follows a group of scientists known as the "Traitorous Eight." They had followed the brilliant William Shockley to California's rural orchard country to work on semiconductors. But after receiving a Nobel Prize for his contributions to the creation of the transistor, Shockley became a mercurial taskmaster who treated his employees like children. Taking a great financial risk, the eight men formed their own com-
pany, Fairchild Semicon-
ductor, whose integrated circuit was at the heart of both the space race of the '60s and the personal computer innovations of the last 30 years.
Arguably, their greatest act of rebellion was their first. These men quit their jobs and founded their own company. That may sound normal now, but in 1957, it was a titanic leap of faith. Businesses -- particularly in the science, research and technology field -- were as rigidly hierarchical as the military they served. People remained at companies like IBM for life. And that life involved a corporate ladder with well-known and respected rungs.
In starting their own firm, these men, led by the charismatic scientist and salesman Robert Noyce, helped create a freewheeling Northern California corporate culture that changed Amer-
ica. Many people like to think of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak building the first Apple in their garage as the Big Bang of the computer revolution. But that came a full two decades after the but-
toned-down Traitorous Eight declared, "Take this job and shove it."
---"Smash" (9 p.m., NBC, TV-14) returns, as brassy as ever -- and maybe a little more obvious and over the top. That's not a bad thing. Not to give too much away, but more than a few explosions occur among the cast and crew of "Bombshell" in the first hour. We also get to see a duet by Karen Cartwright (Katharine McPhee) and a reigning Broadway diva played by Jennifer Hudson. It reminds us how much more fun it is to watch "Ameri can Idol" veterans than "American Idol" itself.
In a nod to the critical drubbing "Smash" received last year, "Bombshell" takes a few brickbats from a fictionalized scribe for the New York Post. Most are thrown in the direction of the play's book, written by Julia Houston (Debra Messing), calling it "diagrammatic" and obvious. That still goes for much of the soap opera antics on "Smash." There's a creaky, obvious quality to much of the melodrama, particularly that involving Eileen Rand (Anjelica Huston) and her husband, a two-dimensional villain. But fresh blood, younger talent and new voices are on the way.
---TV-themed DVDs available today include "Alias Smith and Jones: The Complete Series."
---"Betty White's 2nd Annual 90th Birthday Spe cial" (8 p.m., NBC, TV-PG).
---Two exit on "The Taste" (8 p.m., ABC).
---The twins' birth mother on "The Lying Game" (9 p.m., ABC Family, TV-14).
---Cupid's arrow on "The Mindy Project" (9:30 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
---Mia must be handled delicately on "Vegas" (10 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
---Raylan's search on "Justified" (10 p.m., FX).
Musical fans who find "Smash" too calorie-free might savor the 1972 screen adaptation of "Cabaret" (10:15 p.m., TCM).
---A hacker on "NCIS" (8 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
---Starstruck on "Raising Hope" (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
---Priorities on "Hart of Dixie" (8 p.m., CW, TV-PG).
---A kingpin on "NCIS: Los Angeles" (9 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
---Hot times at the dating convention on "New Girl" (9 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
---A trip to the Canadian Rockies on "The Bachelor" (9 p.m., ABC, TV-14).
---Jealousy on "Emily Owens, M.D." (9 p.m., CW, TV-PG).
---Ray Kelly is scheduled
on "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" (11 p.m., Comedy Central).
---Jennifer Lawrence, Nick Kroll and Randy Houser appear on "Conan" (11 p.m., TBS).
---John Caparulo, Fortune Feimster and Jo Koy appear on "Chelsea Lately" (11 p.m., E!).
---Julie Andrews sits down on "The Colbert Report" (11:30 p.m., Comedy Central).
---Eric Stonestreet and Pauley Perrette appear on "Late Show With David Letterman" (11:35 p.m., CBS).
---Jay Leno welcomes Josh Duhamel, Kathryn Bigelow and Lianne La Havas on "The Tonight Show" (11:35 p.m., NBC).
---Bradley Cooper, Kate Mara and Emeli Sande appear on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (11:35 p.m., ABC).
---Justin Bieber, Naomi Campbell, Local Natives and Jim James visit "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" (12:35 a.m., NBC).
---Craig Ferguson hosts Amanda Peet and Paul Williams on "The Late Late Show" (12:35 a.m., CBS).
Kevin McDonough can be reached at kevin.tvguy@g mail.com.