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!
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.
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
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.
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.
TV is never short of bad ideas, as demonstrated in a guide to one hundred of television's most memorable blunders and bloopers, arranged in a count-down format and including information on each incident that seeks to answer the question of "Why did this happen?" Original.
The Time Tunnel was by no means a superb product of Friday night entertainment. If the plot holes were not as large as the tunnel itself, viewers noticed the same props from Allen's other television programs popping up on the show. Fan boys to this day still debate whether the futuristic episodes involving space aliens were better than the historic adventures, but few would deny that Lee Meriwether made a lab coat look sexy. Meriwether herself recalled how the cast received letters from school teachers who used The Time Tunnel to stimulate interest in history in the classroom. This 546 page book documents the entire history of the program, the origin and conception of the series, why it never ran a second season, almost 200 never-before-published behind-the-scenes photographs, and a detailed episode guide including dates of production, music cues, episode budgets, salary costs, deleted scenes that were filmed, memories from cast and crew, bloopers, trivia and much more!
This volume presents an overview by leading media scholars, which traces the history of broadcasting in two major centres of television development and export: Great Britain and the USA. It identifies tendencies that both unite and differentiate these traditions.
The collision of new technologies, changing business strategies, and innovative storytelling that produced a new golden age of TV.
Cable television channels were once the backwater of American television, programming recent and not-so-recent movies and reruns of network shows. Then came La Femme Nikita, OZ, The Sopranos, Mad Men, Game of Thrones, and The Walking Dead. And then, just as "prestige cable" became a category, came House of Cards and Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, and other Internet distributors of television content. What happened? In We Now Disrupt This Broadcast, Amanda Lotz chronicles the collision of new technologies, changing business strategies, and innovative storytelling that produced an era termed "peak TV."
Lotz explains that changes in the business of television expanded the creative possibilities of television. She describes the costly infrastructure rebuilding undertaken by cable service providers in the late 1990s and the struggles of cable channels to produce (and pay for) original, scripted programming in order to stand out from the competition. These new programs defied television conventions and made viewers adjust their expectations of what television could be. Le Femme Nikita offered cable's first antihero, Mad Men cost more than advertisers paid, The Walking Dead became the first mass cable hit, and Game of Thrones was the first global television blockbuster. Internet streaming didn't kill cable, Lotz tells us. Rather, it revolutionized how we watch television. Cable and network television quickly established their own streaming portals. Meanwhile, cable service providers had quietly transformed themselves into Internet providers, able to profit from both prestige cable and streaming services. Far from being dead, television continues to transform.
âThe invention, or the quaint piece of furniture, wandered into our lives in the 1940s, as a primitive plaything, a clever if awkward addition to the household. It was expensive, unreliable and a bit of an invalid.â âTelevision, A Biography
In just a few years, what used to be an immobile piece of living room furniture, which one had to sit in front of at appointed times in order to watch sponsored programming on a finite number of channels, morphed into a glowing cloud of screens with access to a near-endless supply of content available when and how viewers want it. With this phenomenon now a common cultural theme, a writer of David Thomsonâs stature delivering a critical history, or âbiographyâ of the six-decade television era, will be a significant event which could not be more timely. With Television, the critic and film historian who wrote what Sight and Sound's readers called âthe most important film book of the last 50 yearsâ has finally turned his unique powers of observation to the medium that has swallowed film whole.
Over twenty-two thematically organized chapters, Thomson brings his provocatively insightful and unique voice to the life of what was television. David Thomson surveying a Boschian landscape, illuminated by that singular glowâalways âonââand peopled by everyone from Donna Reed to Dennis Potter, will be the first complete history of the defining medium of our time.