Customer Review

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat interesting but boastful book of an insiders look at the business and big business of network television, April 21, 2012
This review is from: Top of the Rock: Inside the Rise and Fall of Must See TV (Hardcover)
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Top of the Rock, Inside the Rise and Fall of Must See TV, as an interesting insiders look at the big business world of television. It contains personal anecdotes and commentary from well known actors, as well as the personal experiences of the author himself, and the commentaries of many business persons from the TV world.

The author does enough boasting throughout the book, apparently proud of the accomplishments of himself and his colleagues in taking NBC up the ratings and economic ladder of success. When reading the first chapters of the book, it seemed to have the same cadence as a Walton's rerun. As the book progressed to the chapter Yada Yada Yada, about the TV series Seinfield, it got more interesting, with small anecdotes from Jason Alexander, as an example, and Jerry Seinfield, and the pace and interest level seemed to start to pick up.

The author seems to have swallowed hook nail and sinker the world of TV showbiz, from the I Love Lucy series on, he has nothing but praise for the TV industry, including the high-handed business practices of TV moghuls, whom he seems very impressed with. There is only praise for the industry itself. There is no sensationalism or expose here, but also, it doesn't seem to give an honest picture or unbiased look at the industry itself, with the perspective of a business executive who heartily endorses the industry and its practices, a means to an end towards success, where the bottom line is high ratings and advertising dollars.

Interestingly, Jason Alexander of Seinfeld, in Top of the Rock, states that he does not watch television, in evaluating the first pilot run of the show, he was a stage and TV actor. Also, Kramer, interestingly, is based on a real person, Kramer is his real name, and the character Kramer on whom the Seinfeld character is based, was paid $100 per show for the use of his name and character. These are the type of facts and anecdotes that the book contains, which are of interest.

However, the type of boasting that weighs down the book is such as we read here, "We had finally developed at NBC the sorts of shows that critics loved and audiences flocked to. For the television season ending in the spring of 1986, half of the top thirty shows were running on our network. NBC had flourished into a conspicuous success, a gaudy jewel in the crown of our parent company, RCA." If you can get past the bragging as well as the heaviness and seriousness with which an otherwise light subject is usually addressed or viewed by most, then there are many points of interest here. The book would especially be appealing to people who are, or have been, very much into television during this time period, familiar and enamored with the various TV shows that Littlefield discusses, and as illustrated on the cover of the book.

I am more like Jason Alexander, don't watch TV presently, although I did watch many of the shows Littlefield considers from a couple of decades ago, but like any business, a less whitewashed view of the business world of TV-land would present a more honest version of the story, that would make for a more interesting discussion of the subject. The book needs to lighten up and take the world of television less seriously. Readers might also consider reading Remotely Controlled: How Television is Damaging Our Lives, by Aric Sigman to provide balance to the discussion of network television.
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