- Paperback: 306 pages
- Publisher: What's Alan Watching? (November 21, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0615718299
- ISBN-13: 978-0615718293
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 188 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #832,385 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever Paperback – November 21, 2012
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"Mr. Sepinwall's book, which was self-published, has all the immediacy and attention to detail that has won his blog so many followers (including this one). It also stands as a spirited and insightful cultural history." -The New York Times
"So when I picked up Alan's terrific new self-published book, The Revolution Was Televised --by which I mean, when I downloaded it onto my phone and scrolled nonstop for two days--I knew it would be good. And it is: the book is a smart and substantive walk through the past fifteen years of television drama, making a lucid case for the auteurist mentality among modern showrunners." -The New Yorker
"Sepinwall is a sharp and prolific critic in his own right. In Revolution, though, he admirably often stands back and lets his subjects' words speak for themselves. But then he stitches the narrative together with insights that will make you see anew just how a Friday Night Lights or Buffy season truly worked, while tossing off the kind of dead-on descriptions that make his blog a blast to read." -Time
About the Author
Alan Sepinwall has been writing about television for close to 20 years, first as an online reviewer of "NYPD Blue," then as a TV critic for The Star-Ledger (Tony Soprano's hometown paper), now as author of the popular blog What's Alan Watching? on HitFix.com. Sepinwall's episode-by-episode approach to reviewing his favorite TV shows "changed the nature of television criticism," according to Slate, which called him "the acknowledged king of the form."
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This book is no different. If anything, Sepinwall has grown as a writer. His insight is clear, and his ideas make sense.
I had the luxury of having watched some of the series he discusses and not having watched others. Reading about both was a pleasure. He took me down memory lane on some, and it was like talking about old friends (or in some cases, old enemies!). He captured exactly WHY I loved The Sopranos and The Wire. But he was also able to make me want to try Oz, Deadwood, and Mad Men, because his discussion of those yet unseen (by me) programs sparked curiosity.
Having been a cop for twenty years and now a writer (crime fiction), there are plenty of things I could be critical of in a program, or a book like this. But the programs that Sepinwall highlighted were the right ones. They mattered. When I watched them, I didn't find things to nit pick. Instead, I found things to celebrate. Sepinwall takes those things and puts them on display for discussion. Likewise, there was nothing to nit pick in this book. Instead of being a vacuous book length TV Guide feature, it was a meaningful, deep, accurate examination of some of the best shows ever to grace the small screen.
In all, the background and little tidbits Sepinwall shares with us--all pulled from interviews old and new, with showrunners, writers, producers, and executives--are worth the price of admission alone, but where this book really shines is how it reads as a moving, heartfelt love letter to the shows he loves. While the author may not spend much time trying to convince us that these shows are Capital-I Important, he effectively conveys just how special they are, and the best essays made me want to re-watch these shows' runs in their entirety (or, in the case of the few shows I had not already seen, finally make a point of checking them out). The book even convinced me that it might be worthwhile to go back and pick up LOST again. I had given up on the show about midway through the third season, after what I thought was a brilliant first season, an uneven but often great second, and an absolutely wretched third. The essay on Battlestar Galactica reminded me that it was a great show, even if my feelings on the last few episodes--and the finale in particular--soured me on the show over all. (Yes, I was one of those people who reacted so strongly to the finale that I felt it retroactively tainted my opinion of the earlier seasons as well, a phenomenon BSG and LOST fans have in common.)
In some cases, I wish the essays would have delved a little deeper, and I would love to see Sepinwall write book-length treatises on The Sopranos and The Wire in particular. I also wish that the book had spent a little more time on the changing landscape of television, and the way DVR, streaming, and downloads have changed things. This is a topic he touches on at several points, but only in relation to specific shows. I would love to see a more general conversation about the topic. Sepinwall seems to feel that good TV comes and goes, often thanks to sheer happenstance, but it seems to me that the way TV has increasingly come to serve more and more specific niches isn't likely to change anytime soon. Most of those he interviews agree with his view, but I wonder if those on the inside truly have the most clear perspective.
My biggest quibble with the book is a question of formatting. Sepinwall keeps the weird annotation method that he uses in his web pieces, where he will include footnotes after paragraphs as opposed to at the end of a piece. While I understand his reasoning for doing this on the web (even if I find it annoying there as well), in book form it's outright obnoxious, and footnotes or endnotes after each essay would have been much preferred.
In all, I'd recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the possibilities of television as a medium, who feel that TV is uniquely poised to give us art alongside the big, broad comedies and procedurals, or who just happen to love any of the same shows Alan loves. It's a nice quick read, and Mr. Sepinwall's style and his transparent love for these shows and the medium that brought them to us is actually rather riveting.
Truth be told, when I started this book I had only watched a handful of the shows in it. But after reading the shows I've watched, I caught up on some of the shows I hadn't (The Shield, Oz, Deadwood), so worth it. This book really opened my eyes to all the great television that sparked the golden age. While each chapter about these shows doesn't go over the plot of the series, it obviously gives away spoilers about key parts of the show, so don't read chapters where you haven't seen the show. Either way, whether your a TV critic, or just an average viewer, The Revolution Was Televised can give you a whole new set of eyes to view television with. Probably one of the better reads I've had, and certainly and enlightening one. 5/5 Stars