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Watching TV: Six Decades of American Television, Second Edition (Television and Popular Culture) Paperback – August 12, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0815632207 ISBN-10: 0815632207 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Series: Television and Popular Culture
  • Paperback: 508 pages
  • Publisher: Syracuse University Press; 2 edition (August 12, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0815632207
  • ISBN-13: 978-0815632207
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 1.2 x 11.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #295,876 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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A definite must for the tv room coffee table.
Vermyn
The easiest temptation for two Baby Boomer authors would have been to write a lament for "the good old days" of television.
"freedomsound61"
Reading it is addictive for a long-time TV watcher like me.
Newportlover

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By "freedomsound61" on June 2, 2004
Format: Paperback
The great risk in doing a book like "Watching TV," which both takes television history seriously and has fun with it, is that it may prove to be neither fish nor fowl -- too scholarly for those that want mere nostalgia, and with too much affection for its subject to please those who just want the facts.

Happily, "Watching TV" avoids this pitfall. In the end, the book leans more to the scholarly side than the trivial, but given the vital role the medium plays in our society, the balance feels right.

In this second edition of their 1982 book, Harry Castleman and Wally Podrazik take us up to the 2002-03 season, covering, in the updated material: NBC's return to respectability; cable's steady march to power, the emergence of Fox, the WB and UPN's debuts as broadcast networks, the regulatory shift that has concentrated ownership in a way not seen in decades; the beginnings of the reality show phenomenon, the launch of new technology that promises to change the medium forever, and more.

One of the remarkable aspects of the book remains its refusal to traffic in simple answers. If you're sure that Castleman and Podrazik are making a quick, easy generalization, keep reading: You'll soon see that they will articulate the issue's complexity.
The easiest temptation for two Baby Boomer authors would have been to write a lament for "the good old days" of television. But Castleman and Podrazik point out the good and the bad in every season, in artistic, commercial and social terms.

The season-by-season structure has several advantages. One is that you get the sense, moreso than in any other book about TV history, of how the networks have competed with one another.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Albert Sussman on March 7, 2004
Format: Paperback
Unlike most of the TV reference books, this is a season-by-season narrative of the history of television. One can pick up the book and turn to any chapter and, even if one is too young to remember that particular TV season, get the flavor of the events of that season and the major programs and trends. A good, informative read, with an objective, down-the-middle viewpoint.

The new 2nd revised edition takes the story up through 2009, using the same very readable approach to the increasingly-complex chronicle of the medium. Even if, like me, you don't watch much entertainment TV any longer, there's enough interesting material in even the last few chapters to give everyone something interesting to ponder. And, yes, following the up-and-down year-to-year fortunes of the major networks is quite fascinating.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Spizer on August 31, 2010
Format: Paperback
Watching TV has been expanded to run through the 2009-2010 television season. A lot of important television trends and news events have taken place since the previous edition. Although I owned the prevision edition, I had no reservations towards buying the updated edition. The book starts with the dawn of television and moves forward with each subsequent television season (which generally starts in September of each year). If you read the book in cronological order, you get a fasinating overview of how the networks came to be and how televions was viewed by government and the press. A prime time grid is provided for each season listing all of the shows and the netwrok they appeared on. You learn about the federal government calling televiosn a wasteland in the early sixites as viewers tuned in sitcoms such as "The Beverly Hillbillies" and "Green Acres." While the FCC may have looked down on such shows, they were truly funny. TV classics such as "The Twilight Zone," "The Prisoner," "M*A*S*H" are highlighted along side popular guilty pleasures. In addition to coverage of the best and worst TV had to offer for each season, the authors go through important news events and how they were covered by TV. The authors go through how JFK took advantage of the medium during his debate with Nixon and how television covered the his assasination. It's all there: the Beatles on "The Ed Sullivan Show," Vietman, man's first steps on the moon, the birth of CNN, 911 and so much more. The book is well indexed, which makes it easy to get information on a particular television show. I was also delighted to learn that the most watched US TV show of all time is no longer the last episode of "M*A*S*H," but rather the New Orleans Saints victory over the Colts in the 2010 Super Bowl. As a Saints fan dating back to the team's first year in 1967, that bit of information alone made me glad I purchased the latest edition!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Vermyn on February 17, 2004
Format: Paperback
The long-awaited update of this classic is finally here!
Castleman and Podrazik's original "Watching TV" is a meticulously researched, wittily-written history of the medium from 1940 to 1980. Filled with insider tidbits, network schedules and classic photos, it's a tv trivia buff's dream come true. The new, updated book is even better!
A definite must for the tv room coffee table.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Terrance Richard TOP 500 REVIEWER on March 17, 2010
Format: Paperback
"Watching TV..." is an exceptional book. It is the followup to "Watching TV: Four Decades of American Television" that was published in the early eighties. This book contains two extra decades, the complete eighties, the nineties, and right up to the 2002-2003 TV season, alas you have the new title "Watching TV: Six Decades of American Television". The book is neatly written. Every single television season is listed, complete with schedule grids of the huge networks operating during a specific year. For example, the now defunct network Dumont is listed in the early chapters along with the shows it broadcast. It is great fun going through the different decades and seeing how much the television landscape has changed. From the 1950's with shows like "Donna Reed" and "Leave It To Beaver", to the turbulent sixties when shows like "Gilligan's Island", "Bewitched", and "The Munsters" enabled viewers escapist fare to forget the problems in America like the Vietnam War, to the early 2000's when reality fare overtook the networks, "Watching TV..." has everything one wants to know about broadcast television. This book is well-researched and the best book of its kind on all U.S. networks. The writers of this book also are not shy is discussing the ups and downs of CBS, NBC, ABC, and FOX in their thirst for viewers, and in the process of making money from advertisers. My favorite part of the book is that time back in the 1970's when programming chief Fred Silverman came to ABC and made the then "third" network #1 with shows like "Laverne and Shirley" and "Three's Company". As one reads on you see what happens to Silverman when NBC spent a lot of money luring him to their network only to see a disaster when NBC fell to the bottom of the Nielsens and lost millions in advertising revenue, proving lightening doesn't strike twice, at least among the networks. "Watching TV..." is even used in colleges around the country in different media studies courses. In one word this book is exceptional.
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Watching TV: Six Decades of American Television, Second Edition (Television and Popular Culture)
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