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Quality TV: Contemporary American Television and Beyond

Quality TV: Contemporary American Television and Beyond
Janet McCabe, Kim Akass

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In his seminal book "Television's Second Golden Age", Robert Thompson described quality TV as 'best defined by what it is not': 'it is not "regular" TV'. Audacious maybe, but his statement renewed debate on the meaning of this highly contentious term. Dealing primarily with the post-1996 era shaped by digital technologies and defined by consumer choice and brand marketing, this book brings together leading scholars, established journalists and experienced broadcasters working in the field of contemporary television to debate what we currently mean by quality TV. They go deep into contemporary American television fictions, from "The Sopranos" and "The West Wing", to "CSI" and "Lost" - innovative, sometimes controversial, always compelling dramas, which one scholar has described as 'now better than the movies!' But how do we understand the emergence of these kinds of fiction? Are they genuinely new? What does quality TV have to tell us about the state of today's television market? And is this a new Golden Age of quality TV? Original, often polemic, each chapter proposes new ways of thinking about and defining quality TV.

There is a foreword from Robert Thompson, and heated dialogue between British and US television critics. Also included - and a great coup - are interviews with W. Snuffy Walden (scored "The West Wing" among others) and with David Chase ("The Sopranos" creator). "Quality TV" provides throughout groundbreaking and innovative theoretical and critical approaches to studying television and for understanding the current - and future - TV landscape.

Table of Contents

  • Preface:
  • Robert Thompson
  • Debating Quality ... Introduction:
  • Janet McCabe and Kim Akass
  • 'Quality TV' On Show
  • Karen Fricker
  • Part 1 Defining Quality ... critical judgements and debate _____________________
  • Is Quality Television Any Good? generic distinctions, evaluations and the troubling matter of critical judgement. Sarah Cardwell
  • Quality TV: from an American critic's perspective
  • David Bianculli
  • Quality TV Drama: a tale of two traditions (British and American)
  • Robin Nelson
  • As Seen on TV: women's rights and quality television
  • Ashley Sayeau
  • Sex, Swearing and Respectability: courting controversy, HBO's Original Programming and producing quality TV
  • Janet McCabe and Kim Akass
  • Part 2:
  • Defining Quality ... industry, policy and competitive markets_____________
  • Quality Control: The Daily Show, the Peabody and brand discipline
  • Jimmie Reeves, Michael Epstein and Mark Rogers
  • Inside American Television Drama
  • Peter Dunne
  • Quality US TV: a buyer's perspective
  • Dermot Horan
  • C.S.I. Crime Scene Investigation: quality, the fifth channel and 'America's Finest'
  • Ian Goode
  • The Problem of Quality Television: television schedules, audience demographics and cultural policy in New Zealand.'
  • Geoff Lealand
  • Part 3: Defining Quality ...aesthetics, form, content ___________________________
  • HBO and the Concept of Quality TV
  • Jane Feuer
  • Seeing and Knowing: reflexivity and quality
  • Jonathan Bignell
  • Quality and Creativity in TV: the work of television storytellers
  • Maire Messenger-Davies
  • An interview with David Chase
  • Mark Lawson
  • Writing Music for Quality TV: An Interview with W. Snuffy Walden
  • Peter Kaye
  • 'Read Any Good Television Lately? television tie-in books and quality TV
  • David Lavery
  • Afterthoughts: Defining Quality ... into the future_____________________________
  • Lost in Transition: from post-network to post-television
  • Roberta Pearson
  • TV and Film Guide
  • Bibliography
  • Index

Author Info

Janet McCabe is Research Associate (TV Drama) at Manchester Metropolitan University. She is Managing Editor of Critical Studies in Television and author of Feminist Film Studies: Writing the Woman into Cinema (Wallflower, 2004). Kim Akass is Research Fellow (TV Drama) at Manchester Metropolitan University and is co-editor of Critical Studies in Television. Janet McCabe and Kim Akass are joint Series Editors of the Reading Contemporary Television Series at I.B.Tauris. They have co-edited and contributed to Reading Sex and the City (2004), Reading Six Feet Under: TV To Die For (2005), Reading The L Word: Outing Contemporary Television (2006) and Reading Desperate Housewives: Beyond the White Picket Fence (2006, all I.B.Tauris).

Bibliographic Info

Imprint: I.B.Tauris
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd.
Series: Reading Contemporary Television

ISBN: 9781845115111
Publication Date: 25 Sep 2007
Number of Pages: 312
Height: 216
Width: 138

ISBN: 9781845115104
Publication Date: 25 Sep 2007
Number of Pages: 312
Height: 216
Width: 138

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