Here's a beginner's guide to the joy of TV reference, and learning all there is to know about your fave shows. This page will never be truly comprehensive, as there are so many out of print entries and Star Trek crap out there that I'll never get everything, but this should do for starters.
As a general rule, "official" companion or tie-ins to existing shows are never as fun as unoffical ones or books about shows from the past. Official books simply lack objectivity, and tend to wax eloquently about everything, often ignoring facts in their quest to tell us how great a show is. Sure, there are exceptions, and we'll see a few below. On the other hand, unofficial guides to shows-in-progress tend to be cheap and nasty and have fewer photos. Then, if a show doesn't get a book at all while in production, it may be years before one appears, usually to tie in with a new reunion TV movie or feature film adaptation.
Hey, authors! If you have a website with more information about your books, I would be happy to provide a link here, even if I don't like your book. Call it objectivity within subjectivity. Just ask! I would also be happy to add your tome if it isn't here already. So if you want some more input after the fact and a hopefully permanent record that your book is out there, e-mail me and I'll send my address and you can mail me a copy. If you're working on a book about a subject I seem to know, I am also happy to provide whatever help I can. Don't be like David Martindale, who could have avoided about a dozen errors in his Krofft book, or John Betancourt, who could have avoided about thirty, or Susan Sackett, who could have avoided about forty. Grant knows, Grant cares, and Grant proofreads proofs at no charge.
Note: This offer not valid for Star Trek material. Why not write about some show nobody's written a good book about instead? Like Route 66 or Hill Street?
358 pages with information on over 3000 series, plays and TV movies. Obviously some details have to be skipped (years, producers, episode count, etc.), but the text is very readable and the tone is positive, despite many typos, making this an ideal starting point for TV research or for just general flipping through. Very few shows are omitted, usually American efforts that haven't been shown in the UK or Ireland. My co-workers adored it.
This a mammoth book, in which a solid majority of British TV series and serials are listed in chronological order through 1992. Most entries get a quarter of a page and a small photo, with some "sequel" series listed only in the main text of a star's first TV series (examples being Dave Allen, Spike Milligan and Frankie Howerd). There are only a few omissions and a strange few US shows manage to get mentions as well, and the few small errors in dating are acceptable in a work this size. A second, revised edition was issued in 1996.
All the facts and few opinions about every US network prime-time entry and most of the syndicated and cable offerings. PBS is not included. No note of the number of episodes, and "last broadcast" refers to the final broadcast, period, which frequently would be a repeat. No TV movies at all, not even the ones with recurring characters, such as Alien Nation or Janek. Any errors are all your imagination.
In the only volume of what was meant to be a continuing series, Lovece does the darn-near amazing and provides an episode guide to the 1990-91 TV season, with guides to all network, syndication and cable offerings from that year. Consequently, the only shows to get complete writeups are the ones that lived and died that season (like The Flash). For other shows, like LA Law, A Different World and Cheers, it's just one slice of the picture. The book is best known for being the first to make solid mention to the country at large of several syndicated offerings that only played in a city or two, like Shades of LA and They Came from Outer Space. It's a real shame this potential series wasn't continued.
Nelson groups several shows he doesn't like much into categories (such as variety shows), giving us the nominees and winners with paragraph essays and photos. Other features include stars whose every project sucks and some bad movies. I really didn't like this book: not so much that because I disagree with many of Nelson's choices (how dare he call the brilliant Madame Sin pilot one of TV's "worst moments"?), he's just too mean spirited in places. If these shows cause him so much grief (sometimes beyond the "so bad it's good" category), why waste the time?
An eminently readable, British-only, fun jaunt through the history of UK TV, with each genre (such as soaps, sitcoms, BBC and ITV telefantasy and historical drama) introduced with a history and then essays on several representatives of that genre. There were several factual errors (but only one truly weird one, an incorrect Blackadder title, a show long available on video) in the first edition, which is fairly acceptable considering the detail about shows that had never been written up before this, and the writing is first-rate. The second edition corrects the errors and has a much longer section on the drama writers, and fits more text and photos with a better layout in fewer pages. Sadly, the team dropped entries for eight shows to make room for eight new entries (and, if I may say so, they're too hard on the non-McGovern Crackers!). It's a shame they couldn't have kept the same page count as the first edition and kept all the entries.
Very out-of-date and desperately in need of a new edition, Harry and Wally is nonetheless essential for reading about any pre-1989 series that has made prime time rounds in the US, and even a few that haven't, so lots of UK series get good writeups. Lovingly opinionated and very readable, the entries include episode counts but no dates beyond the years of first broadcast. Not many errors that I could spot.
Episode guides to The Bob Newhart Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, I Dream of Jeannie, I Love Lucy, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Munsters, Taxi, Welcome Back, Kotter and the first two seasons of Bewitched. A different author tackles each guide, so some are better than others (Bob Newhart and Taxi come out best), but, provided you enjoy Nickolodeon's "silly-but-reverent" tone, this is worth your time.
This book takes the unusual tack of devoting two pages to every TV series that made the Nielsen top 10 from 1950-92, including casts and some production credits. On the plus side, there are a wealth of rare photographs here, most of which are rare or unseen. Sadly, that's the book's only recommendation. What transforms this into the worst TV reference book I've ever seen are the huge number of basic factual errors, and Sackett's disagreeable habit of mentioning Star Trek wherever feasible. (It's reasonable to mention that William Shatner lost out on Dr. Kildare because he was set to star in For the People. It's irrelevant to spend two lines in the Kildare essay then talking about Star Trek.) The errors are unreal: without any reference, using just my memory, I filled the entire inside back cover with pencil notes with errors. One one page, Julias Dr. Chegley was played by Lloyd Nelson, on the next page he's Lloyd Nolan. Both The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp and The Fugitive were the "first" series to have a wrap-up, concluding episode. She adds 52 episodes to the number of Bewitched shows. Bart Maverick was apparently introduced in the second season of Maverick and not the first. The Cosby Show was apparently on ABC. Despite her claims, The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman did not do crossovers in their final seasons, Norman Lear did not produce Soap and Dan August did not run from 1970-75. These are easily-corrected errors, and there are over 40 more that I spotted without checking. It's evidence of a lazy, sloppy book and one you do not need.
Imagine a coffee-table book in trade paperback size and you've got this in a nutshell. Dozens of photos detailing the history of US TV, or its most popular moments anyway, sparse text, some errors and lots of hyperbole. Strangest boner: why does the book think Small & Frye was an unsold pilot when it ran for six episodes?
Goldenson, president of ABC, reflects on a life in TV. Fascinating stuff and full of useful inside info about ABC hits like Bewitched and Maverick and the early days, although naturally flops like Kolchak are just glossed over. Nearly 500 pages long, this will likely hold your interest. This book's out of print, but you can find further details from the co-author at www.concentric.net/~Marvwolf/Home.html.
An anecdotal autobiography from the producer of such 70s hits as Happy Days and The Odd Couple, with some interesting analysis of network practices. Lots of thoroughly acceptable name-dropping and a lively, upbeat tone makes this an engaging read, although not all that useful for research.
Sort of the dark side of Beating the Odds. A detailed and negative look into the rise and mid-80s slump of the Alphabet Web with much inside information. Williams gets some predictions wrong about the future of the Nielsens, but then again he couldn't have foreseen the 1992-94 slump of CBS and NBC that elevated ABC to the top. On the other hand, his analysis of ABC programming tactics is right on the money. Using just this book, I was able to make uncanny predictions about the 1996-97 ABC season and wasn't wrong once.
Critical essays about such productions as Brookside, Inspector Morse, Edge of Darkness, The Singing Detective, The Life and Loves of a She-Devil, The Jewel in the Crown and others, including, oddly, Yes, Prime Minister. Naturally first-rate writing throughout, and Brandt's introductory essay sets the stage well by highlighting the changes in the British TV landscape over the decade.
Detailed essays and all the facts about the award ceremonies, nominees and winners of the best of USTV from 1948-1991. Sometimes dry, it's a good factfinder with a few good photos. A revised edition was issued in 1998.
A critical overview of the MTM studio, with essays focussing on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Lou Grant and the first few seasons of Hill Street Blues as well as the history of the studio. It's capped by a useful guide to all MTM series, TVMs and busted pilots. It's pretty readable and the guide is fabulous, but a little more variety in the essays would have been nice. An essay solely on Rhoda would have sat better with me than the "compare/contrast" study of Grant and Blues.
24 essays about television and critical approaches to it from a very Amero-centric background, with topics ranging from drama to Saturday morning cartoons to advertising. I can't say I agree with all the authors, but I do believe that if you're going to do any sort of real critical analysis of television as a whole, you should read this book, as I did in '93. I've been glad I did ever since. The next time some peon whines that "it's only TV," hit them with this book. Hard.
Highlights from Clive James' television column from the Observer, 1972-1976, featuring some of the sharpest and well-written criticism ever written about the tube. Some of his targets will be unfamiliar to US readers, but the writing will leave you in stitches. Some shows we might have heard of include The Likely Lads, Z Cars, Moonbase 3, Porridge and Monty Python as well as US exports like Cannon, The Six Million Dollar Man and QB VII. Nixon's resignation, as covered by all the news programs, is discussed and the insight into the news coverage is very fascinating. When Clive asks "How...can anyone harbour a passion for such a crystal-draining pile of barbituates as Star Trek," I found myself giggling silly and realizing I've asked the same thing for years, only not as well.
This is sublime. Easily the most thoroughly researched effort I've ever seen on the subject, with exhaustive essays on everything they could lay their hands on, and the most reasonable entries possible for lost gems like Atom Squad and Captain Video. Very highly recommended for anyone with even a passing interest.
A factual episode guide book with few opinions, no photos, index, credits or bibilography, this book tries harder than anything else to give all the facts about every fantasy show ever produced in the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, skipping only cartoons, mini-series and TVMs. Each entry features a brief write-up on the show and a cast list, then gives a sentence synopsis for each episode, writer and director credits and guest stars. However, as nice as this book could have been, it is awash with factual mistakes, distracting spelling errors and grammar of a fifth-grade level. Further, my copy has around 30 blank pages in the Ls and Ms where some series listings should be. Investigate your copy closely and be prepared for disappointment.
A pretty fun look at most, but not all, of Gerry Anderson's work, so it's not as complete as the title indicates. There are a few errors and no background at all. There are no dates and no commentary, but there are a great many good photos. It's really more of a picture book than anything solid.
DWB was a fanzine that started life as "Doctor Who Bulletin" and, after 70-odd issues, became the general SF fanzine "Dream Watch Bulletin," maintaining a major Doctor Who focus. These "best-of" volumes, which can sometimes be found in US comic shops, mainly feature Who material, but several other UK shows get mentions. Volume 1 has a listing of what UK telefantasy material remains in the archives and volume 2 has interviews with several other UK TV stars, including a great one with Adam Adamant Lives! hero Gerald Harper.
Essential. A pricy book not issued in the US, this "bible" hits most of the fantastic or SF entries that have aired in England and a few that didn't, so it includes most of the US entires, but lighter fantasies like Bewitched or Mr. Ed are excluded as it is an SF tome. Also oddly missing are several UK paranormal dramas like The Omega Factor or The Owl Service. Each entry has at least a writeup, and most have a good guide. The 1995 2nd edition adds several more shows and updates others, but has the exact same selection of photos, only with poorer quality and the same caption typo ("The Wild West West"?). Very few errors in this one, with ample credits and commentary, frequently citing reviews of the time. A third edition was released in 1997, with updates including new shows like Babylon 5 and Neverwhere, but with little textual correction of other entries like the scant Avengers section. It has a new set of photos, and helped pave the way for the "fourth edition" for the Sci-Fi Channel...
Released to tie-in with the early '90s revival of Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet on the BBC, this is essential strictly for the photos, which include an extensive array of shots you've never seen. The text is simply trivia in list form and reveals little, but these pics are damn impressive.
I'm sure John Betancourt is a nice guy, and hope that this hack job was ordered by the channel and the publisher. This first US edition of Fulton's Encyclopedia (listed above) is a chopped-up version of the third UK edition, with pitiful new entries for newer US shows. Compare the difference in information with any British show with, say, Teen Angel, which doesn't even have dates. While the US material is sloppily updated, the British is not, so there are no revisions in the listings for Bugs or Oktober, among others. Worse, the animation and TV movie sections are deleted, and 41 entries, mostly English of course, are excised from the central section and dumped in an appendix. Compared to the originals, this is a colossal waste of money.
Season-by-season entries for all US networked kidvid programming from 1946-1973, with oodles of BW photos and model sheets of cartoon characters. Plenty of intriguing facts. I had no idea that Here Come the Double Deckers ever aired in the US, never mind that it was networked on Saturday mornings, before I read this.
An almost perfect discussion of most of Sid & Marty Krofft's work, with emphasis on the Saturday morning material. The prime time variety shows that are covered all make just one chapter. Sadly, there are some annoying mistakes and omissions. For example, there's some reference to the Bay City Rollers hosting a third season of The Krofft Supershow, but that's not really what it was. The Krofft Superstar Hour was a totally separate concept for a different network: a Saturday morning variety show. The author doesn't even discuss the two shows within the Hour, Horror Hotel and Lost Island. Discussing DC Follies, reference is made to some BBC specials called Spittin' Image (sic). Well, Spitting Image was actually a Central TV show that ran for many years, actually one of the most successful British comedies of the 1980s. The incomplete episode guides, while the best published before 1998, are in production order, and lack writer and director credits. (That should tell you something about the quality of previous episode guides.) Pryor's Place doesn't get enough pages. On the other hand, this was a fun read with many great anecdotes and loving memories from several stars. I laughed out loud several times. It's nearly great, and a second edition could easily correct the errors and give better detail. All Martindale needs to do is interview *me*...
Flatly, it's difficult to be objective about a book I'm acknowledged, cited and said such nice things about in, but this is a very well-managed critical look into the production and transmission of the Kroffts' Saturday shows, getting The Krofft Superstar Hour right and devoting appropriate pages to Pryor's Place. Their variety shows and TV movies get 20-odd pages and appendixes cover their amusement park and lawsuit against McDonald's in detail. I don't agree with the assessment of ElectraWoman and DynaGirl, one of the best ongoing parodies ever done for TV, at all, but I cannot fault the very strong writing and research. This will be far more expensive to you than Martindale's effort (above), but worth more in the long run.
Incredibly dry but very handy. The author has a peculiar numbering system, where all series are alphabetized, then numbered in order, then episodes within that series sub-numbered. I think it helped him catalog his video library, actually.
A look behind the scenes, with photos and episode guide. This is handy for quickly uncovering which episodes Hitch shot, and which scripts came from important writers like Sterling Silliphant, Richard Levinson or William Link. Sadly, the authors chose to reveal the twist endings in their plot synopses, which surely must be a criminal act.
This is a splendid book, with excellent writing and considerable background information, with lots of photos and behind-the-scenes interviews. Unfortunately, the episode guide is in production order rather than the more sensible transmission order (so "The Unemployment Story" apparently belongs between "Archie's Brief Encounter" parts one and two) and, while there's some background for the four seasons of "Archie Bunker's Place," no guide at all for it. A strange omission is the lack of detailed post-show credits for the cast. There is a paragraph for each of the principal four, but nothing detailed. The author is well known for her fine Honeymooners books.
Like a lot of academic treatises on popular TV, this is an overwritten, over-analyzed, dull read. Considering how upbeat and active The Avengers is, to discuss it in such a reverent and boring tone smacks as being a little foolish. A typical sentence, from page 15, reads: "While the post-war Attlee Labour Government's form of life seemed to inhabit the self-consciously northern regionalism of BBC policing, Harold Wilson's combination of white-hot technological modernisation with contemporary popular culture informed ITV espionage's unselfconsciously southern urbanism." At least the pictures are good.
Dave Rogers wrote three books on The Avengers. This is the one I own and it really is a waste of space. A follow-up to an earlier book on the original series, this one has an episode guide to The New Avengers that is in the wrong order and gets several plot details wrong (notably about the episode "Faces"). There are plenty of good photos and a sweet production chart to the original series (but not, oddly, to the New series). The back of the book is set up like a game, with swapped or missing captions. The overall effect is rather like a picture book for children.
Still the only Avengers book out there really worth owning, this is a detailed episode guide for the original and The New Avengers with extensive behind-the-scenes commentary. I would have preferred it in trade paper size...in standard paperback form, these 373 pages are going to get flipped through a lot and the spine won't be long for this world.
Tatty little episode guide "books" for the US market, these suffer from apalling photo reproduction, poor binding and many factual errors. The New Avengers guide (in volumes 5 and 6) is in the US transmission order, which was random, with no solid reference to a proper production or transmission order. The author also groups seasons 5 and 6 into one "season five" (a common error, but the fact is that the 24 color Diana Rigg episodes were both produced and shown in batches of 16 and 8, months apart), and compounds this error by listing the first episode of season seven as being part of season five, for which there really is no excuse. Pathetic, sloppy work for completists only.
A fairly comprehensive look at the show and film, with very detailed episode synopses. There are loads of great photos, as well as a list of all Robin's "Holy" declarations. There are a few oddities, usually in the "Bat Facts" notes that follow each episode listing, that seem to just be there to fill white space. Why else tell us, in the entry for episodes for episodes 41 and 42 (1966) that series regular Stafford Repp died in 1974? The design and layout, meant to invoke the colorful chaos of the show, is cluttered and intrusive.
This is a wonderfully fun book. West pulls no punches and is open and honest about his typecasting in this photo-filled tome. His recollections and woe over Legends of the Superheroes are a joy and the episode guide includes several fun anecdotes.
A splendid behind-the-scenes job with a detailed episode guide and many photos and lists. My only bugbear is with the reference in the text to episodes by their numbers and not titles. The "where are they now" section is very well done and overall this book just glows with love for the show. This has since been reissued under the name Bewitched Forever, which will be more widely available.
I don't own any B7 books, and have only read one. The title was something like The Inside Story and it was written by Joe Nazarro and Sheelagh Wells. It is very much geared towards people who know lots about the show already: there isn't a hint of narrative recap or discussion of what the show is actually about, but there are dozens of photos you've never seen before. Although...maybe it's just me, but when you have a character like Travis with a clearly identifiable mark (in his case the eye patch over his right eye), why print a photograph back-to-front so the patch is over the wrong eye????
Plenty of facts, laid out in a mostly "trivia" style of lists, with plenty of fond remembrances and anecdotes. The writing is fun and light, and occasionally irreverent, with many good photos. The episode guide is annoyingly in production order and the authors missed an episode of The Brady Bunch Hour, but this is a mostly OK book. You'll enjoy reading it whether you actually like the show or you just like the fact that it's a TV icon.
The main flaw here is the lack of show photos, which is just something you have to accept with unofficial tomes. The tone is perfectly fine, with a good examination of the film and show's background, nice bios of the cast, and a very good episode guide through the end of season two, full of readable, well-thought analysis and facts. I really could have done without the 16 page "brief history of the vampire" section though.
A guide to NBC's series of films in the 1970s, this has only one flaw: it doesn't specify which were 90 minutes and which two hours. Otherwise, it's one of the best reference books I've seen, with all the facts checked, all the details given and an engaging prose style. A new edition, detailing all the ABC films, is definitely needed.
A detailed behind-the-scenes chronicle with lots of photos, cast bios and a production order episode guide. Among the many fun things about this thorough guide is the way it compares the sponsor-dominated nature of TV that existed when the show began to the very different TV landscape five years later. The book was revised and reissued in 1993 to tie in to Nick at Nite's rebroadcasting the show.
This is an absolutely fascinating, but criminally short hardback. It begins with a few snapshots from spfx designer Tucker's library before Aldred, who played the last TV companion Ace, looks into the final 31 episodes of Who in great detail, with tons of new photos. The last 27 pages look at life after the show, with details for the indefinitely postponed season, "Dimensions in Time," Thirty Years in the TARDIS, conventions, books and comics. Wonderfully, Aldred dresses as the older Ace from the Virgin Who novels for a criminally short photospread.
The well-written text obscures the fact that this is just a really good coffee table book, full of photos. Many of them are publicity snaps or photocall pics, with plenty of pre- and post-series cheesecake shots of the TV actresses in bikinis, nude, or, in Janet Fielding's case, looking like she's wandered in from the set of a Human League video. Terrible cover layout.
For a good while, this was the best reference book available on Who, and despite a recent fan backlash against research of this era, it's still not too shabby. Haining lets many of the show's stars and producers tell their stories from the show's first 20 years and there's some decent background. Jeremy Bentham supplied the episode guide, which is too darned opinionated and includes more anecdotes about the stories than plot details. Haining would offer several more books about the show, each decreasingly useful.
Featuring oodles of behind-the-scenes designs and photos, this looks like it could have been a very good book, and it could come in handy for fans of the show interested in the first three seasons. For novices, it's rather dense, and could have used some more editing. Written with lots of input from designer Ray Cusick, Bentham gives detailed plot synposes for just the stories Cusick designed, which makes some sense considering the wealth of production material Cusick contributed, but glosses over every other William Hartnell serial. Uneven but fascinating.
Haining's third Who reference book doesn't have a lot of material written under that author's name. Taking a cue from the first Haining book, this is a history of the show presented as a series of essays from cast and crew, presented chronologically from about the time the writers worked on the show. It goes up to the end of season 22 and features many pieces of fan art and some color photos.
A damn impressive library of TV research, with each volume devoted to one Doctor's era in the form of detailed episode guides, facts about the show behind the scenes during that era and some small commentary. No matter who your favorite Doctor is, you need the final volume, for the seventh Doctor, which not only looks at the Paul McGann TV movie, but also looks at the state of Who fandom, its standing at the BBC and the Virgin novels since 1989. It also features an extensive index for all seven volumes and a few graciously received pages of corrections for the previous editions.
This isn't very essential. It's really a young readers' "how they make TV" book centered around the production of the 1982 serial "The Visitation." Facts about the show in general are scant, but there are many wonderful "behind-the-scenes" photos.
As fabulous as television reference could be in this format, with oodles of cast and crew recollections, photographs and story details. Each volume features analysis of the decade's Doctors, pretty extensive biographies and credits of the seven men to play the Doctor, behind-the-scenes material for each season, brief backgrounds for the show's other stars, writers and directors, and supplementary information charting fandom, overseas sales and merchandising. The only things a reader could ask for are an episode guide and...more pages!
A readable, 557 page volume that is just waiting to have its poor old spine broken. Each TV adventure gets 3-5 pages of coverage, with cast lists, plot synopses, debunking myths about the stories, things to watch for and things you probably didn't know, and then an exceptional analysis of each story, mixing critical commentary from a number of sources. This tries hard to be the final word in this sort of analysis, and for the next many years, probably will be.
The "illustrated history" of the show, using sparse text, but 122 pages of color photos and artwork, with memorable show images and screen captures, the covers of novelizations and annuals, comic book spoofs, magazine covers, advertizements, political cartoons, pinball machines and naked companions. Well, one of them. Good for a coffee table.
A media studies textbook masquerading as something Who-related, this takes an unfriendly, academic tone and doesn't talk down to the audience; rather it sails above your head as much as possible. Tulloch makes comparisons between the 1982 serial "Kinda" and Ursula Le Guin's The Word for World is Forest on practically every page. It's funny to see producer John Nathan-Turner lambasting the previous producer's sole use of a guest spot by a very established comedy actor (in later years, JN-T would be accused of doing the same to extremes), but overall this is heavy and recommended for only those viewers interested in serious television study. If a drier study of the series is ever issued, I'll be stunned.
One of the worst books ever issued about the long running series. This is a sad cash-in with lousy design and poor photo reproduction. About half of the book is an episode guide to the 14 Dalek serials that had aired up to the time this was published, and there are plenty of errors, and most of the second half is a narrative "history of the Daleks" that arranges the stories into a questionable chronological order. For example, Peel believes that the 1967 "Evil of the Daleks" was, as the Doctor put it, "the final end" of the Daleks, but later production teams created stories that are clearly set after this event. Disagreeing with continuity is one thing, ignoring it completely is another, and this total lack of objectivity is what brings down this book in particular, and Peel's Dalek work in general.
An official tie-in, this has the requisite good photographs (some color) and interviews with the show's stars. There's a guide to the first 3 seasons of the show, without, oddly, transmission dates. Sadly, it has too much hyperbole and isn't even remotely critical. Favorite howler (on page 16): "Cheers had been NBC's highest-rated series for eleven seasons...". That was a neat trick, considering it was barely renewed for a second year and The Cosby Show was on for most of those years.
Possibly the best reference book ever written about an American show, this is a thorough recapping of the series and the book is set up discussing the series "in-progress," that is, with introductory notes about the show's background and pre-production, and then a very detailed episode guide that forms the main text, with commentary and anecdotes about the show's ratings and scheduling position and any changes before and after each season, and frequently after individual episodes. This was the first of three sterling efforts from Robertson, possibly our country's best TV researcher, for Pomegranate Press. He has written up smaller features for such treasures as Harry O and 77 Sunset Strip for the magazine Television Chronicles.
Proctor's book suffers only by comparison to Robertson's gem. This is still a fabulous read, very well researched and dripping with love of the subject. There are plenty of fine photos and no errors I could spot. The only dark spot is the lack of full guest casts for each episode; frequently only the principal performers are listed, often missing major stars-to-be with smaller roles (such as DeForest Kelley in "Three Cheers for Little Boy Blue"). Very much worth investigating.
A very acceptable look into the onscreen chaos, er, KAOS, of Get Smart. There aren't many behind-the-scenes facts about the show's production, but just about every detail you can gleam from the sitcom is mentioned. There are dozens of photos I'd never seen before and a detailed "where are they now" guide to the cast and crew. There probably isn't that much call for a new edition, but it would be nice to see one detailing the 7 episodes made for Fox in 1995.
A tie-in to the comedy series, this has a similar look and feel to the Monty Python "boks," but it's not as funny. Despite being a big fan of the show, I didn't laugh once reading this, but there are several photos.
If you've ever wanted to see how wildly a concept can change over the years, buy this book. You'll probably picture the TV cast reading the radio lines, but after four episodes, things get weird as much of the material here was discarded or reworked for the novels and TV show. A shame, really, because the radio material was much, much funnier.
A mostly excellent guide following the Ed Robertson template (see The Fugitive above), with the bulk of the book an excellent episode guide. NBC has treated the show horribly and run several episodes out of order, so this details the continuity problems that resulted (most infamously Crosetti's death, but also Thurmond regaining his eyesight) quite well, and the guides are very well done. The cast's other credits are "selected" and not complete, but I do quibble about Kalat's choices. Richard Belzer, for instance, had recurring roles on The Flash and Lois & Clark, so they should definitely be listed. The guide sadly only goes about halfway through season six, so doesn't detail how the Mahoney storyline ended. That's an omission Kalat's not responsible for, since the publisher had their own agenda. My only solid complaint is with the staunchly negative tone towards everything else on television. It's like this: I know that Homicide is the best show on USTV since Route 66 and possibly ever. I do not, however, need to see other shows (as disparate as Friends, Crisis Center, NYPD Blue and, every other page, Nash Bridges) railed against and disparaged at every possible opportunity. My opinions about the other shows (I like Friends!) or NBC's tryout practices (I don't believe any show should be on 52 weeks a year; we should schedule like British TV) may be arguable, and I appreciate Kalat may disagree, but the end resulting feeling of this book is that Kalat sez Homicide is the best show ever and everything else sucks, which isn't true. I hope a later edition cuts the attacks and just concentrates on why Homicide is so good.
Fans will definitely want to read the stunning, award-winning non-fiction work that inspired the series. Simon spent a year in the company of Baltimore's murder police and this is his blow-by-bloody blow account. Several of the cases of the first three seasons, and indeed, the original detectives themselves, were adapted from true events described in this book.
There's so much more background in this book than I ever knew. Made to tie in with the release of old kinescopes of Honeymooners sketches that appeared on The Jackie Gleason Show (running times anywhere from 7 to 48 minutes), this goes into far more detail than was really necessary, so the authors deserve much commendation. This really is a fascinating book.
An all-color guide to the first five seasons, as well as a preview of the sixth. This goes into considerable detail about the genesis of the series, though not quite as much background on Colin Dexter and the novels. The author further singles out three episodes for careful scrutiny. Full of love and beautiful photos, this book screams with the attention the author gave it. You may want to inspect the book carefully before you purchase a copy, though. I waded through several with lousy binding before landing mine.
This is a pretty well-written look into the series, but it is marred by some of the worst printing and binding I've ever run into. Mine is literally falling apart. Definitely worth examining before purchasing, the book is a fun read and seems to include every promotional photograph ever issued for the series and the films.
A revised edition of the above, this is a wonderful addition to Pomegranate's too-small library of TV research books. The text is updated to detail the Sci-Fi Channel revival and the Columbia House videos, and even digs a few more photos out of the archives. There just can't be any more. A little more clarity in the text, better distribution and and honest tone make this the best book you could possibly have about Kolchak.
For an academic entry, this is a very readable and engaging look into the widely acclaimed drama. The setup is far more similar to a standard TV reference book than the media studies tone of Doctor Who: The Unfolding Text, but delivered in a far more professional and serious style. The cancellation of the series, and the surrounding furor of Asner's political noise and the arrival of MTM's Hill Street Blues, is detailed very well. An episode guide with guests, airdates, credits and plots without commentary, is given as an appendix.
This is a small, 142-page paperback that, rather than tying in, cashes in on the show. Perhaps a little too reverential, it is a bit entertaining and does include a "show so far" narrative recap, rather than an episode guide. That's OK, given the show's target audience of the time really couldn't care less about credits and airdates. Behind-the-scenes material is scant.
A good "behind-the-scenes" offering with a readable style, this isn't entirely engrossing due to the sometimes too-reverent tone and odd production errors (on page 210, for instance, the words "insert photo #61" appear). The episode guide is very good.
Thirty of the major presentations of the anthology series are spotlighted in this well-written critical recap of the series. Upstairs, Downstairs and The Jewel in the Crown naturally get the most text, but Lord Peter Wimsey, I, Claudius, Edward and Mrs. Simpson, Jeeves and Wooster and The Buccaneers, among others, get excellent summaries with color photos throughout. Each "chapter" of five seasons is preceded by an episode guide. Interviews with show writers and producers John Hawkesworth, Andrew Davies, Christopher Morahan and Louis Marks and bios of major cast members round out the text.
Photos are scant in this wonderful edition, rush-commissioned and written but dripping with love, released to tie in with the fabulous 1994 film. No reference book anywhere has gotten the details on Young Maverick and Bret Maverick as clear as this, and the clear, loving text will make even non-fans want to order the tapes from Columbia House.
A thin (88 page) memoir by the star on the making of the series, told in a breezy, readable style. Not academic at all, but worth a couple of bucks for the photos. Perfect for what it is.
Full of love but not a lot of sense, this nostalgia-fest contains all sorts of "Observations" that try to identify the meaning of various series ephemera but fail. It's a remarkably po-faced book, and the occasional humorous comments only heighten the feeling that the authors take the show way too seriously. A good effort, this has aged a little better than I thought it would.
If you want Dwarf photos, this is the place to go. There are dozens, mostly in color. If you want text, go somewhere else. Like most official books, it's too reverent, and it gives an unfair bias towards seasons 3-5, when the first two were just as good, if not better. (They were better, lots better, but one must be objective...) Well designed and laid out, this really could have used some criticism and transmission facts.
Another great piece of work by Robertson, this is probably the least excellent of his three, but that's hardly faint praise. He's still the standard by which TV reference should be judged. It follows the Pomegranate format of being basically a great big episode guide, with pre- and post-series details bridging the main text and transmission details before and after each season. The guide was valuable in determining which of the episodes were two parters, which 90 minutes and which two hours. Otherwise I'd have had to spend another week in the library looking at old TV Guides like I did for all the NBC Mystery Movies years ago, and boy, that gets tedious. No other reference I've seen details these as thoroughly. The book closes with a look at the first two of the eight (or more) Rockford TV movies for CBS. This one may be hard to find, as I only saw it once in a bookstore, unlike the Fugitive and Maverick Robertson books which still pop up. It's time to do Columbo, Ed! You're the best!
Actually, there's quite a lot wrong with this uneven, unfocussed book. The often reliable Wild, a Rolling Stone writer, rambles a lot and provides the easiest trivia quiz in history. Reviews of cast members' films go on too long and the "episode guide" features titles, airdates and short, opinionated commentaries, but no plot synopses or writer credits. Some, but not many, good photos. Published about nine episodes short of the full series, it seems unlikely that this will ever be reissued to give the complete picture.
This isn't just a full account of Granada's definitive Holmes series starring Jeremy Brett, but a look at Holmes on TV through the years. The book spends about 100 not-very detailed pages looking at previous productions before hitting the Brett show and giving it about 150 very detailed pages with lots of photos. The episode guide is rather good, although details on the then-unbroadcast sixth series (The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes) are a little slight. This would have been a better book overall if it had focussed solely on the Brett material. To truly give an account of all the Holmes TV productions seems a little weird in the first place (nobody's writing books about The Adventures of Superman, Superboy, Lois & Clark and all the cartoons, are they?), but the hasty, dismissive tone of the first chunk of the book doesn't fit well with the details of the rest of it.
About as good as an official book could possibly be, this all-color episode guide gives 1-2 pages for each episode, with plenty of quotes, facts, pictures and "stuff you may have missed." Happily, episodes are listed in transmission order; the saddest of the Simpsons fans tend to list them, by production code and not by title, in production order. Other lists include Homer's "D'oh!" and "Mmmmm"s and an "Itchy & Scratchy" filmography. The definitive Simpsons book has yet to be written (it would need interviews, facts about transmission and how it made Fox into a contender network, and at least some critical commentary), but this very engaging effort will suffice until then.
A very well-made account of an often poorly-made show, this is a thoroughly researched look into Gerry Anderson's flawed space epic. While clearly a fan of the show, the author is honest and open about the show's flaws and the universally hated episodes penned by Fred Freiberger, giving the book an objectivity I wasn't expecting. The guide and photos are nice, and he goes a long way towards debunking some of the absurd criticism thrown at the series by its detractors. Sadly, none of those detractors will ever buy a book about a show they don't like (especially one of these damn expensive McFarland gems) to see their arguments debunked.
This one's worth tracking down just to see how weird TV reference from the 70s could be. There's extreme detail in the "behind-the-scenes" department, almost to the level that this could be used as a reference text for general TV production. Details of the storylines are left strictly to the episode guide, which arranges the episodes in alphabetical order! The reverence the author holds for "Freddie" Freiberger is truly bizarre. Not even Chris Carter gets this kind of adulation...
The second funniest book I've ever read. Given that I'd rather have my pants set afire than watch an episode of Star Trek, this speaks volumes. Of course, the authors don't seem to like Trek either, or at least greatly prefer the animated series (speaking of which, the obligatory episode guide is a scream...), so this results in a not-at-all serious tone. If you don't have a sense of humor about your love for Trek, you may want to skip this one.
Dozens. Most tend to suck, particularly if they're from that Pioneer outfit. The many cast recollections are dull, and the biographies of Roddenberry are either there to canonize or crucify the man. Objectively, your best bets are the Compendiums for the original and Next Generation series, Herb Solow's insider book, two cheap-and-nasties called Captain's Logs that, despite the crappy production and binding, are well written, and Harlan Ellison's Original Screenplay for The City on the Edge of Forever, which goes well behind the scenes about the production of one of only three good hours of the show. There's also a pricy hardcover about Next Gen called Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Continuing Mission by Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stephens that's quite impressive. If you have any other Next Gen books, you need to see this one. Owning the Starfleet Medical Reference Manual, meanwhile, is a bloody sad thing to do.
A humor tie-in to the show, this has no background detail behind the scenes, but admirably builds on the wacky mythology within the show, with "interviews" with various characters and the Tick's often gut-bustingly funny take on his fellow crimefighters. As a reference book, it's dead useless but makes a halfhearted try...there's an "episode guide" (actually Arthur's Casebook) that lists details of the stories without titles, dates, scriptwriters or anything useful.
Sort of a wake for a great show, this engaging paperback spends about 15 pages behind the scenes of how the show was sold before detailed looks at some of the more outlandish stories presented. It concludes with all the Widgery & Associates polls and an episode guide. Poor photo reproduction though.
A perfectly serviceable companion to the original and 1980s series as well as Night Gallery, this also feaures a complete credit list for all of Serling's work and interviews with serveral Zone collaborators. The episode guides are not very detailed; nor do they feature much in the way of background for the making of the shows, but for what it sets out to do, it mostly succeeds. There is, however, no real excuse for not providing "week of" transmission dates for the 1988 syndicated version.
I don't own it and haven't read it in years, but Marc Scott Zicree's Zone book will tell you every last detail you'd want to know about the original run in a fun fashion. Very well researched, it does sadly make the cardinal error of devoting about 50 times as many words to the original than the briefly-ackowledged remake.
The shops are currently loaded with X Files books; more than I'll ever read. The four I've grabbed are listed below. Others include Ted Edwards' fine unauthorized book and N.E. Genge's not-fine series.
A very entertaining book for people who know a good bit about the show already. Each episode from the first four seasons gets a brief plot synopsis and then a thorough look at the blunders, questionable writing and plot oversights of each hour. However, there are no transmission dates, production credits or guest casts. While I did enjoy this, I found myself sometimes finding Farrand hadn't dug deep enough in some areas, and he makes a few blunders himself. For example, the apparent head of the NY-based conspiracy is listed in the credits as "Elder." Why does Farrand call him "Brandoguy"? Fun, but shallow.
The most shamelessly brown-nosing and butt-kissing book printed in recent memory, this "official" guide does not need your home. There isn't a hint of criticism, just 250 pages telling you how wonderful every second of The X Files is. From the acknowledgements: "This book could not have been written without Chris Carter..." Well, duh. At least two further volumes, covering later seasons, have been published, each with a different name in order to make you spend more money.
A perfectly fine episode guide with some commentary and nitpicks and several photos. "Totally unauthorized" and all the better for it, this is an honest, open look at the show with a good bit more show background than these books usually have. To its credit, this also has several pages looking at Duchovny and Anderson's earlier roles. It only goes to the end of season 3, and, owing to its publication date, facts on the last 10 episodes of that season are a little scant, but this is certainly acceptable for anyone's shelf.
Easily the best of all the available X Files books, this is an episode guide with detailed commentary on the first 82 episodes. Each hour gets several pages, with fun asides about particularly good or bad dialogue and Scully's questionable medical background. Very opinionated, the praise will gush and the bile will spew. A steal at only $6, it's worth more than every other X Files book combined. A second, more expensive edition is also available. It contains more commentary on the season four shows and expands coverage into year five.
A very good look behind the scenes, with lots of kinescope footage and sketch transcripts, which all prove the material was funnier when Sid Caesar delivered it.
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