Prime-Time Television

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Television is a unique medium in that both its dramas and its comedies have the ability to tell their stories over real time, with characters developing over years rather than just the two hours allowed in a movie or the few hundred pages of a book. Despite this, very few authors have attempted to look at television from this vantage point. Prime-Time Television provides an essential resource for anyone interested in the history of television. The focus here is on programming: the shows, the producers, the genres, the trends, and the influences. Everyone interested in the questions of why the programs look the way they do, why they're scheduled as they are, why some shows air while others are cancelled, and what has shaped and influenced the shows we see, will want this book.

The chapters are organized chronologically, beginning with an examination of radio's influence on early television, and cover all major developments—technological, aesthetic, and to some extent cultural—in the medium. Concise sidebars cover more concise topics, such as the quiz show scandals, and the introduction of the three-camera filmed sitcom with I Love Lucy, a model that has remained the standard for over 50 years.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[P]rovides a complete and accessible understanding of the media medium of television through the historical and modern study of sitcoms, dramas, and other prime-time television particulars. Delving deep into the intricacies of American popular culture and the influential role played by many television shows, Prime-Time Television features a scholarly analysis of the shows, producers, genres, trends, and ideals behind various influential television productions. A seminal contribution to university level Popular Culture reference collections, Prime-Time Television is very strongly recommended reading."


MBR Internet Bookwatch

"Well-written and clearly and intelligently laid out, this book's greatest strength for high-school researchers is the historically grounded contrasting of radio with television for students unaware of the similarities between the two. This work best serves those concerned with the macro-level of broadcast entertainment, rather than the micro-level of details about specific programs."


School Library Journal

"Organized chronologically, this text examines trends in the prime- time programming of the broadcast networks from its roots in 1920s radio to present day offerings. Writing as both academics and fans, Moore and co-authors discuss all of the major technical, aesthetic, and cultural developments in the medium. Sidebars cover such topics as the quiz show scandals and the introduction of the three-camera filmed sitcom."


Reference & Research Book News

"Barbara Moore, Marvin R. Bensman, and Jim Van Dyke have cobbled together a compendium of thoroughly researched evidence that America's top medium for news and information got to be No. 1 for prime-time reasons. The programs, the regulations and the history of television, accompanied by a generous collection of photographs, combine for an interesting addition to the shelves of TV buffs anywhere."


American Journalism

School Library Journal
Adult/High School-The title is something of a misnomer. Although the book is concise, it's not about prime-time television programming but rather about the regulation of the air waves, communications technology, and networks and their affiliates. The authors cover not only the history of TV, but also that of radio, showing how the FCC and the affiliate and sponsorship systems set up for radio evolved into the basis for television's business configuration today. There are a number of thought-provoking points, such as an explanation of why wrestling and roller derby were such popular staples early on and how "to true fans of radio, the visual element of television was a limitation" rather than an enhancement. When discussing pioneering programs, the authors partner them with modern shows to illustrate points. Sidebars with plot summaries describe specific episodes, and black-and-white photos provide useful images to enhance program descriptions. Well written and clearly and intelligently laid out, this book's greatest strength for high-school researchers is the historically grounded contrasting of radio with television for students unaware of the great similarities between the two. This work best serves those concerned with the macro-level of broadcast entertainment, rather than the micro-level of details about specific programs.-Dana Cobern-Kullman, Luther Burbank Middle School, Burbank, CA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780275981426
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/30/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 318
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

BARBARA MOORE is Professor in the College of Communiacations, University of Tennessee. She co-authored the textbook Radio, TV, and Cable Programming (Iowa State University Press, 1994)

MARVIN R. BENSMAN is Professor at the University of Memphis, a member of the board of the Broadcast Education Association, and the author of The Beginning of Broadcast Regulation in the 20th Century (MacFarland, 2000).

JIM VAN DYKE teaches at Marian College in Milwaukee, and has published television criticism in various journals.

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Table of Contents

Introduction vii
1 The Heritage of Radio Programming (1927-1947) 1
2 The Experimental Days of TV Programming (1939-1947) 27
3 Finding an Audience (1948-1952) 39
4 The Rise and Fall of Live Drama and Quiz Shows (1953-1959) 81
5 Detectives, Cowboys, and Happy Families (1960-1969) 121
6 Controversy in Prime-Time (1970-1984) 171
7 Changes in Competition (1985-1995) 219
8 More New Voices (1996-2005) 249
Conclusion 281
Notes 285
Bibliography 289
Index 293
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