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This review is from: Top of the Rock: Inside the Rise and Fall of Must See TV (Hardcover)
The 1990's were the decade of my 20's. When I think back on that time, among my many happy memories is Thursday nights. Nearly every Thursday night for close to a decade anywhere from three to more than a dozen of my friends would gather in my living room, order pizza, and watch Must See TV. It really all started with Friends, which was our biggest passion, but included other shows that would move in and out of the Thursday night line-up.
I had read an excerpt from this book on Friends in Vanity Fair. It was fun getting taken back to that time of a shared television passion so, when the book came out, I decided to give it a try. Reading the entire book, however, was a mixed experience.
To be frank, the TV programs I feel really passionate about can be counted on the fingers of one hand and 4 of the 5 have been off the air for a decade or more. I liked shows like Cosby, Cheers, Mad About You, Law & Order, and ER, but the only one I felt deeply about was Friends. That gave me only a peripheral interest in many of the stories that were related here.
As someone who is passionately interested in books, however, I found much to be critical about in this collection of interviews "authored" by Warren Littlefield (and T. R. Pearson). Many of the chapters were quite light on real information and heavy on being critical of people, most of whom I didn't know or care about. Among the many disturbing things, the most disturbing to me was the constant bashing of Don Ohlmeyer--who may have deserved all the trash talk for all I know but, as we don't get his side of the story here, it came off as undeserved and unfair.
Still, as someone who has been extensively involved in the creative process of the theatre, I can sympathize with the volatile emotions of the people here. The fact remains that these teams put together some of the greatest and most successful TV shows ever made, and that can be an ugly situation sometimes behind the scenes. One thing I did like as I read the book was the appreciation for talent that many of these people had, which seems to be missing often in TV today. They knew to let good people take the reins and it paid off. I just wish more of that positive attitude came through in this book.