- Paperback: 328 pages
- Publisher: McFarland Publishing; 1st edition (January 8, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0786414200
- ISBN-13: 978-0786414208
- Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.8 x 9.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,451,200 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Short-Lived Television Series, 1948-1978: Thirty Years of More Than 1,000 Flops 1st Edition
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The Amazon Book Review
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Hyatt, a television enthusiast, uses 1948 as the beginning point of his chronicle of TV shows that lasted a year or less, because that year included the first full nighttime (and some daytime) lineups for ABC, CBS, NBC, and DuMont (which folded in 1955). Programming practices remained fairly stable until 1978, when the push for ratings resulted in an unprecedented number of cancellations. Hyatt thought that documentation of more recent shows would be easier to locate, so he decided to focus on harder-to-find shows of earlier years. He also restricted his survey to regular season entertainment series: no news, documentaries, public affairs, sports, theatrical movie series, animation, or syndicated shows (i.e., those programs sold individually to stations rather than to networks). Variety shows and anthology series with no recurring cast members were also omitted.
Entries range from a few lines to a page in length. Each entry includes series genre, dates of airing, programs shown at the same time on other channels, major cast members, producers, directors, and sometimes writers. Longer entries describe the basic premise of each series and discuss the program's successes and failures. Most of the detailed information came from personal (and sometimes biased) interviews, though apparently many potential interviewees declined to talk about the shows they were associated with because of negative memories. A thorough index of names and titles concludes the work.
As the author correctly states, finding information about these early, short-lived television programs is difficult. Reading the "back-fill" stories of some of these programs gives them new life. Because of the specificity of the topic, this reference is probably most useful for those libraries having deep mass media communications collections. RBB
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
"one of the very best volumes about television...this wonderful book, filled with terrific anecdotes, is a treasure of almost lost information. This is a keeper"--Classic Images; "I never knew television's flops could be so enjoyable...not to watch again...to read about...you might understand why shows with names like Funny Boners and Ozmoe flopped, but when Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Sid Caesar, Bing Crosby and Sammy Davis Jr., all had shows that fail, you want to find out why"--Big Reel; "thorough index...finding information about these early, short-lived television programs is difficult...useful"--Booklist.
Top customer reviews
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However, I found this book a lot of fun to browse. Hyatt did an amazing number of interviews, and while not every show I wanted to read about was covered in detail, I still thought the book was worthwhile. For those who enjoy reading television history, this is definitely worth a look.
The only reason I've given this book one star is because of the 100 interviews it contains; the only original information it has. On the one hand these interviews can be somewhat enjoyable and halfway informational. On the other hand only 100 of the 1000+ shows have interviews. That means that only about 1/10th of the book is information that you probably couldn't find anywhere else. But is it worth paying $40 for 1/10th of a book? If you ordered a mystery novel that promised "100% Intrigue!" and only got 10% would you be satisfied? Probably not.
I am not satisfied with Wesley Hyatt's Short-Lived Television Series 1948-1978. Just the fact that it has a bibliography with over twenty-six entries should be enough to convince anyone that the book is hardly original. I'm almost curious as to how it got published considering the fact that the only original aspects are the interviews. I plan on returning this book and finding something more worthy of my money. I suggest anyone with an interest in short-lived television shows NOT purchase this book unless they want to be disappointed.
The criteria were that the program had to be on the air less than a year--which means a number of 51 and and half week series made the cut. The author also includes Saturday morning shows, daytime game shows, talk shows, etc. All of these are mixed together and it's all very confusing. Then, to make it even worse, he randomly decides to cut them off at 1978 (with no logical explanation)! A book written in 2003 should have focused on the many series from the recent decades there were short-lived (and much more interesting than 1949 series that only 1% of the homes in America could watch!).
He then decides not to include animated series and summer series. He also cut out "dozens of variety shows with no recurring cast members and anthology series that had only a single host." Then he goes on to break that rule in a couple instances. Namely, this guy set up all sorts of restrictions. It makes for a deceptive book--even the subtitle "30 years of more than 1,000 flops" is a misnomer since he admits there are only 950 series in his book!
The idea of doing a book on the subject is admirable, but this isn't the book--it's pretty much a waste of money. For most series listed all you get are the dates the show aired, what it was programmed against and a short cast list--not even a plot summary or related information or the number of episodes! Absolutely no descriptions about what the series were about! Of the 950 shows in the book, only one-fourth have more than that paragraph--and even when you get a longer description it doesn't usually tell plot details but instead focuses on strange minor aspects of production like how a writer disliked a director. Who cares what some unknown writer remembers about shooting a six-episode series that no one remembers, especially when the book doesn't describe the plot!?! (Some of these same interviews were later used by the same author in his next book on Emmy-winning series!)
This pretty much is a perfect example of how not to write a book about television history. It's shocking that it was even published--I blame the publisher and editor for not properly pushing the author to come up with more material. It's not even worthy of reference libraries because it contains little insight into the subject--it ends up basically being a list that could have been published online for free.