?Thompson usefully surveys the anomalies of TV auteurism, establishing its characteristic recombinance' and the hyphenate' (writer-producer). Happily Stephen Cannell's Hardcastle provides a definition for auteurism: Criminals commit the same crime over and over again' (p.118). But as he is less a critical analyst than a journalist, Thompson's goal is misdirected: to juxtapose biographical information about Cannell with the texts he wrote and produced and to examine the fit.' Thompson diminishes Cannell's works by centripetally reading them as autobiography' instead of exploring wider themes. For example, in The Greatest American Hero the magical suit (with lost directions) more interestingly alludes to runaway technology (nuclear or otherwise) than it represents the lack of clear rules for successful TV writing. With unsettling imprecision Thompson uses autobiography' for TV career, ' hubris' for authorial vanity, ' and Trojan horses' for disguise.' Thompson's autobiographical' parallels do not establish Cannell as working in metatelevision' as Moonlighting did. Variations on formulas do not make the Cannell canon a history of his career in television, ' nor does his casting of a stock company foreground the artificiality of the presentation'--not for Cannell, not for Ingmar Bergman, not for John Ford. Nonetheless, Thompson does prove that this writer-producer has stamped a distinctive tone as well as recurrent concerns and strategies on his wide range of TV series. One suspects that Cannell's art would sustain more ambitious explication than Thompson undertakes.?-Choice
This volume provides an in-depth critical and historical examination of the TV programs of one of America's most prolific and successful producers. The book also breaks new ground in the development of the study of television authorship. It features discussion of specific episodes ofeach of Cannell's major series, including The Rockford Files, The A-Team, Greatest American Hero, and Private Eye.