Blockbuster TV

Contents

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. vii

read more

Preface

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. ix-xiii

This little book isn’t meant to be anything like a full picture of the television industry, American broadcasting audiences, or the events around the four situation comedies studied. Rather it is designed to be provocative—a gesture toward thinking about and researching the public reception of TV programs in relation to the institutional dynamics of network-era...

read more

Chapter 1: Introduction

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 1-53

Sigmund Freud writes at the beginning of Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious that two reasons exist to study humor. One is “an intimate connection between all mental happenings.”1 The other: “A new joke acts almost like an event of universal interest; it is passed from one person to another like the news of the latest victory” (p. 15). Two notions...

read more

Chapter 2: The Beverly Hillbillies

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 54-80

In May 1961 Federal Communications Commission Chairman Newton N. Minow attacked television as “a vast wasteland.” In September 1962, The Beverly Hillbillies premiered on CBS, almost as proof of Minow’s assertion. If, however, Minow was correct, by the end of the season, 36 percent of all television homes in the United States were...

read more

Chapter 3: All in the Family

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 81-111

Whereas The Beverly Hillbillies went out of its way to avoid controversy, All in the Family courted it. In fact, Dorothy Rabinowitz, television critic publishing in Commentary in 1975, called All in the Family ’s creator, Norman Lear, the “entrepreneur of the controversial.”1 That’s a fairly accurate label, and Lear may even have liked it. Certainly...

read more

Chapter 4: Laverne & Shirley

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 112-140

In fall 1975, a New York City exhibitor tried to explain the phenomenon of the midnight movie. His explanation was that the youth of ages eighteen to twenty-five had “nothing to do. Nothing. Zero!” Of these nothings, the choices seemed to be two: “[E]very kid who owns a pair of blue jeans thinks he’s gonna find the spirit of his generation in a midnight...

read more

Chapter 5: The Cosby Show

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 141-159

In September 1984, The Cosby Show premiered. In hindsight, it is likely to be the last of television’s prime-time programs to achieve a blockbuster audience. Clearly, in the future many programs will attract good numbers and good demographics, but the impact of cable and video and digital recording and playback permits late capitalism’s dream: the...

read more

Epilogue: Some Final Observations

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 160-175

At the beginning of chapter 1, I noted that Sigmund Freud believed that two reasons existed to study jokes: one was that all mental happenings are connected, the other that a joke passes from person to person like the “news of the latest victory.” Reasons to understand the very popular (and not popular) television sitcom seem the same. Whether the very popular...

Notes

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 177-204

Select Bibliography

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 205-213

Index

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 215-220

About the Author

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 221