Made-for-TV movies are unique in network television. Developed at a time when TV had ceased to be a novelty and the weekly schedule had become routine, these films became “must-see-special events,” something to be promoted as dramatically superior to series fare. More important, these movies were presented as socially charged documents, on the cutting edge of public debate, and, in fact, focal points for engaging the nation in issues in a much larger sphere--the real social world. The importance of made-for-TV movies to the networks increased as they continued to deal with socially vexed, controversial subjects. they became, says Rapping, cultural capital in the battle to have television taken seriously, often reflecting a somber, pseudocumentary tone and style (and refusing, with notable exceptions, to be ironic, cute, or intentionally silly). Subjects like slavery, domestic violence and incest, nuclear war, and corporate pollution, were first given dramatic representation in a TV movie. These productions crossed the line between fiction and fact, between drama and information, entering the realm of important social discourse not indirectly, through movie reviews, but quite directly through channels normally reserved for “real life” events. In The Movie of the Week, Elayne rapping places the TV movie in an historical and institutional framework first and then--in light of the political and cultural forces of production, and the contradictory nature of the media and hegemonic structure--analyzes the various, dominant types of TV movies in terms of narrative and textual strategies. In this first full-length study of its kind, The Movie of the Week analyzes a true “TV invention”--one that is not only fascinating but significant.