Mildly informative interviews with eight TV producers or production-teams--backed up, ineffectually, by an unconvincing,...

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AMERICAN TELEVISION: The Producer's Medium

Mildly informative interviews with eight TV producers or production-teams--backed up, ineffectually, by an unconvincing, academic-jargon approach to popular TV genres. Newcomb and Alley subscribe to ""a ritual view of communication""; television's function in this system is ""choric,"" dependent on ""widely recognized 'types' rather than on the unique,"" offering ""patterns of experience within which to couch new problems and issues."" The authors find ""choric forms"" in everything from Marcus Welby to Maude, dismissing criticism of TV's stereotypes, artificiality, and simplemindedness. (""Television comments on the world we live in by presenting elements of it in purposely distorted form."") And TV's limitations, the constraints on artistic freedom, thus ""have their virtues""--with producers as the real TV forces and ""masters of the choric forms."" Among the masters interviewed here, whose down-to-earth answers offer an unintentionally amusing contrast to the Newcomb/Alley pomposities: Quinn Martin of The FBI and David Victor of Marcus Welby (triumphs of ""idealization""); John Mantley of Gunsmoke; Levinson & Link, whose own recent book is a vastly superior source; Earl Hamner (The Waltons); Norman Lear, engagingly candid; the MTM Productions masterminds, who offer an intriguing look or two behind the Mary Tyler Moore Show scripts; and Gary Marshall, of Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley. So-so interviews, turgid theorizing: a slight addition to the TV-analysis shelf, with many of its premises undercut by Todd Gitlin's recent Vertical HeM reportage (p. 863).

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1983

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1983

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