Prime Times: Writers on Their Favorite TV Shows

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The literary mind and the boob tube are often thought to have little in common, but the two have been trysting in dimly lit rooms since television's earliest days. To prove the point, Doug Bauer asked a number of the finest writers of our time to reveal their own forays into a medium that has been called everything from a vast wasteland to the electronic dream machine of the global village. The results are surprising, passionate, very personal, and often downright hilarious. From Nora Ephron on The Mary Tyler ...
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Overview

The literary mind and the boob tube are often thought to have little in common, but the two have been trysting in dimly lit rooms since television's earliest days. To prove the point, Doug Bauer asked a number of the finest writers of our time to reveal their own forays into a medium that has been called everything from a vast wasteland to the electronic dream machine of the global village. The results are surprising, passionate, very personal, and often downright hilarious. From Nora Ephron on The Mary Tyler Moore Show to Nick Hornby on The West Wing, Susan Cheever on Father Knows Best to Henry Louis Gates Jr. on Amos 'n' Andy, the full range of televised fare is captured--sitcoms and soaps, police dramas and reality TV, the very new and the very old, and the much criticized and denounced and the truly iconic and beloved.

Prime Times is an eclectic gathering of autobiography, memory, and blade-sharp observation, all bound by the common--and, after all, literary--experience of watching other people's lives while trying to understand one's own.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Bauer (Prairie City, Iowa) creates a pop culture junkie's dream in this anthology of essays about television by many of today's most popular writers: Nick Hornby dissects the allure of The West Wing, Elizabeth McCracken hilariously confesses her adoration of America's Funniest Home Videos, Jill McCorkle waxes nostalgic about The Andy Griffith Show. Personal examination, program dissection, social commentary and mere recollection share the pages of this lighthearted yet uneven collection. The essays work best when they move beyond the show. Lloyd Schwartz credits his love of language to Burns and Allen. Gilligan's Island becomes a profound backdrop for Lan Samantha Chang's reminiscence of her own cultural isolation in Wisconsin. In contrast, Nora Ephron's paean to Mary Richards reveals little of the show or of Ephron, and James Alan McPherson's theoretical examination of Star Trek feels incongruous among the more compelling personal pieces. The biggest flaw is the assumption that readers know the programs discussed. Mark Leyner's take on Hawaii Five-O, for example, will baffle those who haven't seen the show. With the skill of the writers and the wealth of material, this book succeeds by doing what most literature hopes to discourage: it inspires the reader to put down the book and turn on the television. (Aug.) Forecast: A regional NPR campaign will boost awareness, and Three Rivers will simultaneously publish a paperback edition ($12.95 -8114-9). Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Hoping to create a "social mosaic," editor Bauer gathered essayists and novelists and then unleashed them on the subject of TV's 50-plus years of popular culture. Of course, the results are idiosyncratic, uneven, and intensely personal. Novelist Nick Hornby gives a Brit's appreciation of The West Wing, while English professor Lloyd Schwartz attributes his love of language to Gracie Allen of The Burns and Allen Show. Other bright spots include North Carolina-born novelist Jill McCorkle's childhood identification with the fictional residents of Mayberry on The Andy Griffith Show. On the other hand, screenwriter-director Nora Ephron contributes a routine valentine to The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and essays on the reality show Survivor and Monday Night Football sportscaster Howard Cosell are provocative but run much too long. Essays on Father Knows Best, The Big Valley, and other old TV shows offer a refreshing change from the usual writings of professional critics, and the publisher might want to consider turning this venture into an annual publication. Recommended for large public and academic libraries. Stephen Rees, Levittown Regional Lib., PA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400047543
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/3/2004
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.76 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Table of Contents

The west wing 3
America, America, this is you : a complete explanation of why, exactly, I am going on record as loving America's funniest home videos 11
Days of our lives 17
The tribe has spoken : why I like survivor 24
Father knows best 45
The great ones 52
The Andy Griffith show 60
Beam me up, Scotty : Star trek 67
Bring back big valley 81
The wound and the bow : Howard Cosell and Monday night football 90
Rob and Laura and the little garage 113
Like Robinson Crusoe 121
The Mary Tyler Moore show 131
Infomercials 134
You are not alone : MST3K, Lost in space, and the reality of science fiction 142
A life of danger 155
Prime times : Masterpiece theatre 161
Dreamhouse 168
Hawaii five-O 175
The twilight zone 187
The world in black and white 195
Amos 'n' Andy and civil rights on TV 202
Gracie and me 208
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