Cover image for From daytime to primetime : the history of American television programs
From daytime to primetime : the history of American television programs
Roman, James W.
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Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, [2005]

Physical Description:
xxvii, 345 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Format :


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PN1992.3.U5 R64 2005 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The 20th century might be accurately described as the television century. Perhaps no technological invention in recent history has so vastly affected the American public. An involving mixture of scholarship and nostalgia, this volume offers an intelligent examination of the many ways that American society has shaped--and been shaped by--television. Roman provides thematic chapters on all of television's major genres.

James Roman, author of Love, Light, and a Dream: Television's Past, Present, and Future (Greenwood, 1996), traces the evolution of American television programming from its beginnings as an experimental spinoff of radio broadcasting to its current role as an omnipresent and, some would say, omnipotent force of media and culture.

Author Notes

James Roman is Professor of Film and Media Studies at Hunter College, City University of New York. He is the author of Love, Light, and a Dream (Praeger, 1996).

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

For many Americans, the television serves as an ?electronic hearth, ? the place where we assemble as cultural voyeurs. According to this comprehensive survey, television appeals to the best and worst in its audience and reflects both what we want to see and what we might consider avoiding if it were not so accessible to us. The author focuses more on the impact of television than on the tastes of viewers, declaring that ?during a time when America?s ideals are enduring the greatest test of the very fabric of their foundation, television provides a cohesive bond... [and] a window to the events impacting American society.? Roman devotes expansive chapters to each genre of programming, from network news and Hollywood cowboy serials to hard-boiled detective stories and doctor dramas. The book reads alternately like an encyclopedia of shows and a study of television as a mirror of society. An expansive chapter on racial, ethnic and gender manifestations reveals how upward mobility among minorities appears to have reached the small screen before the real world, and how women?s liberation was often represented by a badge, a gun and a catchy nickname (a la Charlie?s Angels). At the heart of the tour, however, is the examination of that very American invention: the sitcom. With their innocent humor, The Honeymooners, I Love Lucy and Father Knows Best were ?seminal? programs, reflecting a postwar American ethos; but it was the taboo-breaking creations of Norman Lear (which included All in the Family and Sanford and Son) that showed television as responding, subverting and in some ways predicting societal attitudes and changes. A thorough if not always insightful read, this book will appeal to those searching for a general overview of America?s most popular medium of ideas, culture and communication. (Dec. 30) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Choice Review

Divided by genre, this volume is superficial in coverage and boring in style. Roman (Hunter College, CUNY) presents every television show in every television genre in the same way, describing who conceived it, the dates it ran, who starred in it, and audience and network response. Roman draws most of the information from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Time, and Newsweek, and he supplements this with some editorial comment on television content and US culture. Nothing here is insightful so libraries will be better off sticking with the old--i.e., Eric Barnouw's Tube of Plenty: The Evaluation of American Television (1975)--or the more analytical and updated: Michele Hilmes's Hollywood and Broadcasting: From Radio to Cable (CH, Nov'90, 28-1501) and Christopher Sterling's Stay Tuned: A Concise History of American Broadcasting (CH, Oct'78; 2nd ed., 1990). ^BSumming Up: Not recommended. R. Cathcart emeritus, CUNY Queens College

Table of Contents

The Seeds of Television Programming: the Networks Steal from the Radio Tinsel
Town Comes to TV From Prarie to Pavement: The Lawman's Lonely Ride Medicinal
Myopia/Blind Justice: Television Makes House Calls
Mirroring the Melting Pot: Gender, Race, and Religion
The Sitcom: Innocence vs. Urban Chic Television and the Comics
Television Drama Reality TV: Surviving the Trend
Talk TV: Running at the Mouth Kids, Cartoons, Puppets, and Muppets
From the Weird to the Bizarre: Television's Tell-Tale
Tube Setting the Agenda: Television News Style and Substance
Mini-Series/Docu-Drama: A Delicate Balance
Sports and Television: The Tortoise Meets the Hare Trends and Issues