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Janet Staiger answers these questions by detailing the myriad factors that go into the construction of mass audiences. Treating the four shows as case studies, she deftly balances factual explanations (for instance, the impact of VCRs and cable on network domination of TV) with more interpretative ones (for example, the transformation of The Beverly Hillbillies from a popular show detested by the critics, to a blockbuster after its elevation as the critics' darling), and juxtaposes industry-based reasons (for example, the ways in which TV shows derive success from placement in the weekly programming schedule) with stylistic explanations (how, for instance, certain shows create pleasure from a repetition and variation of a formula).
Staiger concludes that because of changes in the industry, these shows were a phenomenon that may never be repeated. And while the western or the night-time soap has at times captured public attention, Blockbuster TV maintains that the sitcom has been THE genre to attract people to the tube, and that without understanding the sitcom, we can't properly understand the role of television in our culture.
About the Author:
William P. Hobby Centennial Professor of Communication at the University of Texas at Austin, Janet Staiger's numerous books include Bad Women: Regulating Sexuality in Early American Cinema and The Classical Hollywood Cinema (with David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson).
"A unique and intriguing study of a phenomenon the likes of which we may never see again. Everyone involved in teaching or observing U.S. TV culture—and on some level, most of us are—should read this book."
-Michele Hilmes,Professor of Media and Cultural Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison
"Provides fresh insight into one of the most popularly discussed and critically mysterious of media phenomenon. Rather than attempting to find a magic formula that explains the success of ‘must-see' TV shows, Janet Staiger examines how diverse and variable historical factors contributed to the popularity of hit sitcoms. In the process, she makes a vivid contribution to the cultural study of television and signals important directions for future research."
-Barbara Klinger,Director, Film and Media, Indiana University
"In this ingenious exploration, Janet Staiger presents three decades of lively public debate about television's role in U.S. culture. Weaving together research on audience, TV's promotional strategies, industry perspectives, and the diverse ingredients of comedy, Staiger crafts a vivid landscape of our common cultural pleasures."
-Mary Beth Haralovich,coeditor of Television, History and American Culture: Feminist Critical Essays
"Staiger's Blockbuster TV artfully balances formal analysis, inflected with and informed by various theoretical perspectives, of four different sitcoms with an examination of their reception.
"If you thought Seinfeld was a blockbuster sitcom, think again. Janet Staiger confronts the issue of the popularity of TV sitcoms and comes up with surprising results. A must-read for classes in television and popular culture."
-Jane Feuer,author of Seeing Through the Eighties: Television and Reaganism
|2||The Beverly Hillbillies||54|
|3||All in the Family||81|
|4||Laverne & Shirley||112|
|5||The Cosby Show||141|
|Epilogue: Some Final Observations||160|
|About the Author||221|