AMERICAN TELEVISION: The Art of the Artificial by Marc Eliot

AMERICAN TELEVISION: The Art of the Artificial

Email this review


Behind the pretentious title and subtitle lurks a virtual non-book. Eliot (Death of a Rebel) begins with a sketchy, nearly incoherent 20-page introduction: there's a familiar TV-history point (""Format changes bring about content change""), with a smug, foolish little litany of TV's artificialities. (Cf. Michael J. Arlen and others for the same material handled with intelligence.) And then there are Eliot's short critiques of dozens of past and present prime-time TV shows--supposedly to demonstrate something about television format, but actually demonstrating little more than Eliot's idiosyncratic, smart-alecky opinions. Both Lou Grant and East Side, West Side ""fail as drama. . . ."" The Odd Couple ""fails as situation comedy,"" with the ""cliched performances of Randall and Klugman."" The Twilight Zone was a failure, and ""Serling might have done better if he'd stayed on more familiar ground."" Captain Kangaroo is ""seemingly aimed at the age level of the fetus."" TV's best shows were The Fugitive and Amos and Andy. Etc. And the other half of this 250-page book? The reprinted prime-time schedules of every year from 1946 to 1980. Overall: a self-indulgent exercise of no discernible value.

Pub Date: Oct. 16th, 1981
Publisher: Anchor/Doubleday