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How To Watch Television Paperback – September 16, 2013
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“This book, unlike the manual that comes with your TV set, is utterly readable, highly engaging, and worth referring back to, long after you’ve switched on your favorite channel. . . . Regardless of which essay one chooses to tune in to, How to Watch Television is an accessible and impressive group of essays by a powerhouse cast of television scholars.”-Journal of American Culture
"Ask anyone in Hollywood and they’ll tell you the movies are dead. TV is where it’s at, and this book will show you why. Thompson and Mittell offer an essential guide to television today, featuring the most insightful critics writing about the most creative and engaging shows. Whether student, fan, or TV professional, it belongs on your bookshelf."-Michael Curtin,co-author of The American Television Industry
“There’s not a single dull page in this book.”-Jose Solis,Popmatters
"There’s quite simply no book out there that can match this in scope and quality. The contributors are a 'Who’s Who' of contemporary television studies, and the prose is engaging and highly readable. If you’re looking for models of how to think about television from a range of perspectives, you need look no further."-Greg M. Smith,author of Beautiful TV: The Art and Argument of Ally McBeal
"What happens when you give 40 smart television scholars ten pages each to write about a television show that interests them? You get a delightful book that is sure to become a favorite of television scholars and students alike. Thompson and Mittell have brought together authors who provide thoughtful criticism in an engaging style and cover just about every genre, historical period, and lens of analysis. Each essay's combination of brevity and detailed analysis makes the book likely to work well as both a course reader for undergraduates in television studies and a reference resource for those wanting to dive into research on individual shows. Though every essay adds something valuable to the collection, essays on Mad Men, Glee, M*A*S*H, I Love Lucy, Modern Family, NYPD Blue, The Twilight Zone, and The Walking Dead are worth the price of this fun, informative, and useful book, even for seasoned television scholars. Summing Up: Highly recommended."-S. Pepper,Choice
"[I]t is a damn good collection, featuring 40 different contributions from American scholars, plus Matt Hills from Aberystwyth and Roberta Pearson from Nottingham. Their contributions are organised under five main themes: Aesthetics and Style; TV Representations: Social Identity and Cultural Politics; TV Politics: Democracy, Nation, and the Public Interest; TV Industry: Industrial Practices and Structures; and TV Practices: Medium, Technology, and Everyday Life. As with television schedules, it is easy to flick and pick and read—indeed, the editors in their Introduction actively encourage ‘readers to go straight to a particular program or approach that interests them.'"-Geoff Lealand,CST Online
"With their urging in the introduction about how the essays serve as models for writing your own criticism, the editors seem to be addressing media studies students. But because of its well-commissioned and well-balanced tone and diversity/specificity of texts, it is just as instructive for a wide range of burgeoning or established TV scholars as well as inquisitive fans of the various programs. The collection manages to be potentially enjoyable and useful to scholars and TV fans alike."-Kathleen Collins,Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly
About the Author
Ethan Thompson is Associate Professor at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. He is the author of Parody and Taste in Postwar American Television Culture, and co-editor of Satire TV: Politics and Comedy in the Post-Network Era.
Jason Mittell is Professor of Film & Media Culture and American Studies at Middlebury College. He is the author of Genre & Television: From Cop Shows to Cartoons in American Culture (Routledge, 2004), Television & American Culture (Oxford UP, 2009), and Complex Television: The Poetics of Contemporary Television Storytelling (NYU Press, 2015),
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Top Customer Reviews
With essays on forty shows, the book does not build (it is "non-episodic"), so you can skip around, safe in the formal structure. You can even ignore shows you never heard of, because the references might mean very little, and dig into the shows you hate, or glory in the shows you love, because the authors look at details, trends and references that most likely never occurred to you while you were watching. They impute race and sex and culture themes where story is paramount, find significance where none was intended, and higher purpose when all the network wanted was entertainment.
Not all the essays critique episodes. Some look at the impact, some the production process, some the context. They all exhibit a passion, not to say neurosis, for the specific show under the microscope.
From I Love Lucy to Star Trek to Modern Family, and touching on "news" (Fox & Friends) it's clearly a labor of love as each author gets to extol the virtues of whatever show s/he is passionate about. I particularly enjoyed the analysis of MTV's Jersey Shore. And many thanks for the examination of Prisoner, which shows clearly once and for all why American remakes of British and French cult classics are totally and irrevocably doomed to fail if not completely alienate. The original Prisoner remains way ahead of its time (now) despite, not because of the updated, unfaithful remake.
For anyone writing a paper on a favorite show, How To Watch TV is a most excellent starting point.