The New York Times
Not Remotely Controlled: Notes on Televisionby Lee Siegel
Television has taken firm hold of American life ever since the first flickering images replaced the disembodied voices innocently crackling from the radio. Ever present and evolving, television thrives at the crossroads of commerce, art, and entertainment. In Not Remotely Controlled cultural critic Lee Siegel collects his reportage and musings on this most/i>
Television has taken firm hold of American life ever since the first flickering images replaced the disembodied voices innocently crackling from the radio. Ever present and evolving, television thrives at the crossroads of commerce, art, and entertainment. In Not Remotely Controlled cultural critic Lee Siegel collects his reportage and musings on this most hybrid medium. Whether chronicling the history of the “cop” drama, revealing the inherent irony in Donald Trump's character on “The Apprentice,” or shedding light on those unheralded gems that Neilsen ratings swept away prematurely, Siegel gives each episode, series, or documentary the attention and respect usually reserved for high-art and dusty literature. Going far beyond mere pans and praise, Siegel has given long-overdue attention to America's most pervasive art form: television.
The New York Times
In this book of collected television criticism, Siegel channel surfs and rides every wave, and no genre of programming escapes his analysis. Siegel, a senior editor at the New Republic, plumbs game shows, reality programming, cartoons, sitcoms, miniseries and iconic personalities with equitable rigor and flare. Above all, this collection showcases Siegel's talent as a semiotician, as he unmasks and dismantles the value systems at work behind popular shows. Siegel proclaims that "the television critic's job is not really to pass judgment at all. It's merely to announce a new reference point." Luckily, the author rarely adheres to his own rule. While Siegel announces cultural referents aplenty, amid discussion of Baudrillard's "Simulacra," the post 9/11 "Irony Controversy," the Frankfurt school of criticism and the "august status" of contemporary fiction, perhaps his greatest strength as a critic is his ability to tell what's good from what's bad. There are as many surprising victors as there are victims. Siegel stands firm that Jon Stewart's comedy is poisoning politics and the work of Ken Burns "brings Caucasian condescension to a new low," while Friendshas "lent dignity to ordinary experience." One of Siegel's favorite modes, as well as one of his favorite words, is "deconstruction." Thankfully, Siegel deconstructs as a means to an end: to discern quality programming from drivel. (July)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Siegel (Falling Upwards: Essays in Defense of the Imagination) informally reflects on all aspects of television-as art form, a cultural and business phenomenon, and sociological/psychological commentary-studying a cross section of categories including drama, cartoons (e.g., SpongeBob SquarePants), comedy (e.g., Curb Your Enthusiasm), games (e.g., Deal or No Deal), sitcoms, news, reality television, and more. From short-lived hits such as Joan of Arcadia, to HBO's Deadwood, to the documentary Ghosts of Rwanda, Siegel covers a lot of ground, describing the singular allure of a particular show, offering comparisons to historical predecessors, discussing influences on popular culture, and underlining relevance to various issues. In the section about cop shows, for example, he tips his hat to such early productions as Dragnetand Adam-12and discusses the subsequent development through Kojak, CSI: New York, Monk, and others, exploring their increasingly complex on-screen characters, situations, and story lines. Siegel is not afraid to digress or present his opinions honestly. Originally published in the New Republic, for which Siegel was a television critic, these essays create a stimulating volume that will especially appeal to television enthusiasts and students of popular culture. For circulating libraries.
Carol J. Binkowski
- Basic Books
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)
- Age Range:
- 14 Years
Meet the Author
Lee Siegel is a renowned critic and essayist whose writing appears in Harper's, The New Republic, Time, The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, among other publications. He received the 2002 National Magazine Award for Reviews and Criticism. He is the author of Falling Upwards. Siegel is a senior editor at The New Republic. He lives with his wife and child in New York City.
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