- Paperback: 300 pages
- Publisher: BearManor Media (December 1, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1593935056
- ISBN-13: 978-1593935054
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,263,484 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Riverboat: The Evolution of a Television Series, 1959-1961
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My kudos to the authors. This book has become a very special item in my physical book collection.
Highly recommend this book for anyone who loved the show or Darren McGavin.
I particularly enjoyed Riverboat: The Evolution of a Television Series 1959-1961 by S.L. Kotar and J.E. Gessler, which chronicles the development and very short life span of the western, which starred Darren McGavin (at the same time he was starring in Mike Hammer) and Burt Reynolds. McGavin played the captain of the Enterprise...no, not the starship, but the riverboat...and Reynolds was his pilot. The two characters didn't get along and, as it turned out, neither did the actors. Reynolds was forced out after the first season.
Most books of this sort are written by diehard fans and read like the slobbering labors of love that they are. But this one is different. The authors are diehard McGavin fans, and did all this research as part of their website devoted to the actor, and while they admire him, they aren't so wild about the show. They take a very, very critical eye. The show never found its footing conceptually, and an unusually high turn-over of writer-producers seemed to doom it from the start...
"The writing, too, was a mixed bag of (over)experienced and novice writers. Most of the episodes were little more than standard Wagon Train plots transported to a riverboat setting. Few particularly stood out as rising above the rest, and as a whole, they failed miserably to create any significant characterization for [McGavin's character] or the crew. [...]nothing rose head-and-shoulders over routine TV fare. Considering the premise, and Darren McGavin, this was disappointing to say the least."
And that's the nicest thing they have to say about the series. So you might be asking yourself -- if the show was so mediocre, why write a book about it? And why should I read it? Well, if you are a student of TV as I am (even after writing and producing many TV series myself), it's always fascinating to read about the development, production, and fate of a show. And the authors don't skimp on details. The episodes are analyzed in depth and the authors add interesting asides about production. The book is also chock full of rare, never-before-published production stills. If you are a Riverboat or McGavin fan, you're going to love it.