Television today is better than ever. From The Sopranos to Breaking Bad, Sex and the City to Girls, and Modern Family to Louie, never has so much quality programming dominated our screens. Exploring how we got here, acclaimed TV critic David Bianculli traces the evolution of the classic TV genres, among them the sitcom, the crime show, the miniseries, the soap opera, the Western, the animated series, the medical drama, and the variety show. In each genre he selects five key examples of the form to illustrate its continuities and its dramatic departures. Drawing on exclusive and in-depth interviews with many of the most famed auteurs in television history, Bianculli shows how the medium has evolved into the premier form of visual narrative art. Â Includes interviews with: MEL BROOKS, MATT GROENING, DAVID CHASE, KEVIN SPACEY, AMY SCHUMER, VINCE GILLIGAN, AARON SORKIN, MATTHEW WEINER, JUDD APATOW, LOUIS C.K., DAVID MILCH, DAVID E. KELLEY, JAMES L. BROOKS, LARRY DAVID, KEN BURNS, LARRY WILMORE, AND MANY, MANY MORE
Television is a form of media without equal. It has revolutionized the way we learn about and communicate with the world and has reinvented the way we experience ourselves and others. More than just cheap entertainment, TV is an undeniable component of our culture and contains many clues to who we are, what we value, and where we might be headed in the future.
Media historian Gary R. Edgerton follows the technological developments and increasing cultural relevance of TV from its prehistory (before 1947) to the Network Era (1948-1975) and the Cable Era (1976-1994). He begins with the laying of the first telegraph line in 1844, which gave rise to the idea that images and sounds could be transmitted over long distances. He then considers the remodeling of television's look and purpose during World War II; the gender, racial, and ethnic components of its early broadcasts and audiences; its transformation of postwar America; and its function in the political life of the country. He talks of the birth of prime time and cable, the influence of innovators like Sylvester "Pat" Weaver, Roone Arledge, and Ted Turner, as well as television's entrance into the international market, describing the ascent of such programs as Dallas and The Cosby Show, and the impact these exports have had on transmitting American culture abroad.
Edgerton concludes with a discerning look at our current Digital Era (1995-present) and the new forms of instantaneous communication that continue to change America's social, political, and economic landscape. Richly researched and engaging, Edgerton's history tracks television's growth into a convergent technology, a global industry, a social catalyst, a viable art form, and a complex and dynamic reflection of the American mind and character. It took only ten years for television to penetrate thirty-five million households, and by 1983, the average home kept their set on for more than seven hours a day. The Columbia History of American Television illuminates our complex relationship with this singular medium and provides historical and critical knowledge for understanding TV as a technology, an industry, an art form, and an institutional force.
Is The Wire better than Breaking Bad? Is Cheers better than Seinfeld? What's the best high school show ever made? Why did Moonlighting really fall apart? Was the Arrested Development Netflix season brilliant or terrible?
For twenty years-since they shared a TV column at Tony Soprano's hometown newspaper-critics Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz have been debating these questions and many more, but it all ultimately boils down to this:
What's the greatest TV show ever?
That debate reaches an epic conclusion in TV (THE BOOK). Sepinwall and Seitz have identified and ranked the 100 greatest scripted shows in American TV history. Using a complex, obsessively all- encompassing scoring system, they've created a Pantheon of top TV shows, each accompanied by essays delving into what made these shows great. From vintage classics like The Twilight Zone and I Love Lucy to modern masterpieces like Mad Men and Friday Night Lights, from huge hits like All in the Family and ER to short-lived favorites like Firefly and Freaks and Geeks, TV (THE BOOK) will bring the triumphs of the small screen together in one amazing compendium.
Sepinwall and Seitz's argument has ended. Now it's time for yours to begin!
When critics decry the current state of our public discourse, one reliably easy target is television news. Itâs too dumbed-down, they say; itâs no longer news but entertainment, celebrity-obsessed and vapid. Â The critics may be right. But, as Charles L. Ponce de Leon explains in Thatâs the Way It Is, TV news has always walked a fine line between hard news and fluff. The Â familiar story of decline fails to acknowledge real changes in the media and Americansâ news-consuming habits, while also harking back to a golden age that, on closer examination, is revealed to be not so Â golden after all. Ponce de Leon traces the entire history of televised news, from the household names of the late 1940s and early â50s, like Eric Sevareid, Edward R. Murrow, and Walter Cronkite, through the rise of cable, the political power of Fox News, and the satirical punch of Colbert and Stewart. He shows us an industry forever in transition, where newsmagazines and celebrity profiles vie with political news and serious investigations. The need for ratings successÂand the lighter, human interest stories that can help bring itÂPonce de Leon makes clear, has always sat uneasily alongside a real desire to report hard news. Â Highlighting the contradictions and paradoxes at the heart of TV news, and telling a story rich in familiar figures and fascinating anecdotes, Thatâs the Way It Is will be the definitive account of how television has showed us our history as it happens.
On September 19, 1962, The Virginian made its primetime broadcast premiere. The 1902 novel by Owen Wister had already seen four movie adaptations when Frank Price mentioned the story's series potential to NBC. Filmed in color, The Virginian became television's first 90-minute western series. Immensely successful, it ran for nine seasons--television's third longest running western. This work accounts for the entire creative history of The Virginian, including the original inspirations and the motion picture adaptations--but the primary focus is its transformation into television and the ways in which the show changed over time. An extensive episode guide includes title, air date, guest star(s), writers, producers, director and a brief synopsis of each of The Virginian's 249 episodes, along with detailed cast and production credits.
After Americaâs most pompous barhound left the Cheerâs gang in Boston, he returned to Seattle and found himself surrounded by an equally colorful cast of friends and family alike. For eleven seasons, radio psychiatrist Frasier Crane contended with his blue-collar ex-cop father Martin, English caretaker Daphne, coworker Roz, and his younger brother Niles. Looking at the world through Frasierâs aristocratic, witty lens, the show explored themes of love, loss, friendship, and what it might mean to live a full life. Both fans and critics loved Frasier, and the showâs 37 primetime Emmy wins are the most ever for a comedy series.
In Frasier: A Cultural History, Joseph J. Darowski and Kate Darowski offer an engaging analysis of the long-running, award-winning show, offering insights into both the onscreen stories as well as the efforts behind the scenes to shape this modern classic. This volume examines the series as a whole, but also focuses on the showâs key characters, including Eddie, the canine. Close looks at set design, class issues, and gender roles are also provided, along with opinionated reviews of all 264 episodes, highlighting the peaks and dips in quality across more than a decade of television.
Despite the showâs focus on an elitist intellectualâand his equally snooty brotherâFrasier often embraced farce on a level previously unseen in American sitcoms, a mix of comedic elements that endeared it to viewers around the world. Frasier: A Cultural History will appeal to the showâs many fans as well as to scholar of media, television, and popular culture.
MGM's hit show Vikings on the History Channel has drawn millions of viewers into the fascinating and bloody world of legendary Norse hero Ragnar Lothbrok, who led Viking warriors to the British Isles and France. Covering the first three seasons of the series, this official companion book delves into the real history as well as the behind-the-scenes stories. Viking historian Justin Pollard explains shipbuilding and navigation, Norse culture and religion, and the first encounters between Viking warriors and the kings of England and France. Interviews with cast and crew reveal the process of dramatizing this gripping story, from reviving the Old Norse language to choreographing battle scenes and building ancient temples for human sacrifice. This spectacular package is a must for fans of the show and history buffs alike.
As one of the most critically acclaimed shows of all time, Breaking Bad explored the life and crimes of a high school chemistry teacher turned meth kingpin of the American Southwest. As Walter White and his former student Jesse Pinkman become deeply entwined in the drug world, their narrative leaves a trail of bodies strewn across the showâs five seasonsâa story that resulted in more than 15 Emmy awards.
In Breaking Bad: A Cultural History, Lara C. Stache offers an engaging analysis of the program, focusing on the showâs fascinating characters and complex story lines. Stachegives the show its due reverence, but also suggests new ways of understanding and critiquing the series as a part of the larger culture in which it exists. The author looks at how the program challenges viewers to think about the choices made in the narrative, analyzes what did and did not work, and determines the programâs cultural significance, particularly its place in twenty-first century America.
The author also explores how Breaking Bad grapples with themes of morality, legality, and anti-drug rhetoric and looks at how the marketing of the series influenced the ways in which television shows are now promoted. Breaking Bad: A Cultural History captures the spirit of the series and examines how the show had an impact on viewers like no other program. This book will be of interest to fans of the show as well as to scholars and students of television, media, and American popular culture.
The first full-length, archive-based history of Soviet Central Televisionâs production and programming in the decades before perestroika
In the first full-length study of Soviet Central Television to draw extensively on archival sources, interviews, and television recordings, Evans challenges the idea that Soviet mass culture in the Brezhnev era was dull and formulaic. Tracing the emergence of play, conflict, and competition on Soviet news programs, serial films, and variety and game shows, Evans shows that Soviet Central Televisionâs most popular shows were experimental and creative, laying the groundwork for Mikhail Gorbachevâs reforms and the post-Soviet media system.
During the late 1940s and early 1950s, the name "DuMont" was synonymous with the new medium of television. Many people first watched TV on DuMont-brand sets, the best receivers money could buy. Even more viewers enjoyed their first programs on the DuMont network, which was established in 1946. Network founder Allen B. DuMont became a folk hero for his entrepreneurial spirit in bringing television to the American people. Yet, by 1955, the DuMont network was out of business and its founder and namesake was forced to relinquish control of the company he had spent a quarter century building. The heart of David Weinstein's book examines DuMont's programs and personalities, including Dennis James, Captain Video, Morey Amsterdam, Jackie Gleason and The Honeymooners, Ernie Kovacs, and Rocky King, Detective. Weinstein uses rare kinescopes, archival photographs, exclusive interviews, trade journal articles, and corporate documents to tell the story of a "forgotten network" that helped invent the very business of network television.