A well-reasoned and engaging—if ultimately unchallenging—summary of the best television has to offer.




What should we watch?

Prominent TV critics Sepinwall (The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers, and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever, 2012, etc.) and Seitz (The Wes Anderson Collection: The Grand Budapest Hotel, 2015, etc.) assemble a canon of the 100 greatest (American, narrative fiction) TV shows of all time. After an introductory chapter exhaustingly detailing their selection process—their attempt to definitively rank such classics as The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, and The Simpsons devolves into a Talmud-like complex tangle of historical, social, aesthetic, and personal considerations—the authors present their choices in a series of essays that concisely and insightfully identify each show’s distinctive virtues and place in the history of the medium. There is little here to inspire much argument; the authors’ choices are largely buttressed by conventional wisdom and critical consensus, though an emphasis on contemporary programming may raise a few eyebrows. Superlative lists—e.g., “Best Mustaches,” “Best Houses,” “Most Important Hairstyles,” “Most Awesome and/or Ridiculous Names”—add little to the reading experience, as they chiefly consist of titles presented without further comment, but appendices covering limited series and TV movies provide useful supplementary material. Only shows with completed runs were eligible: a chapter on currently produced shows that bear watching for future inclusion evidences the authors’ good taste (Broad City, Transparent), but again, their selections will ruffle no feathers. Perhaps the book’s most engaging chapter, “A Certain Regard,” which gathers programs not pantheon-worthy but liked by the authors “for some strange reason or another,” suggests a more interesting direction: critics at the top of their craft going out on a limb rather than affirming the commonly accepted classics.

A well-reasoned and engaging—if ultimately unchallenging—summary of the best television has to offer.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4555-8819-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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