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Blockbuster TV : Must-See Sitcoms in the Network Era - Janet Staiger

Blockbuster TV

Must-See Sitcoms in the Network Era

Paperback Published: 1st October 2000
ISBN: 9780814797570
Number Of Pages: 234

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Archie Bunker. Jed. Laverne and Shirley. Cliff Huxtable. Throughout the entire history of American prime-time television only four sitcoms have been true blockbusters, with Nielsen ratings far above the second- and third-rated programs. Weekly, millions of Americans of every age were making a special effort to turn on the set to see what Archie, Jed, Laverne, and Cliff were doing that week. The wild popularity of these shows--"All in the Family," "The Beverly Hillbillies," "Laverne & Shirley" (and its partner "Happy Days"), and "The Cosby Show"--left commentators bewildered by the tastes and preferences of the American public. How do we account for the huge appeal of these sitcoms, and how does it figure into the history of network prime-time television?

Janet Staiger answers these questions by detailing the myriad factors that go into the construction of mass audiences. Treating the four shows as case studies, she deftly balances factual explanations (for instance, the impact of VCRs and cable on network domination of TV) with more interpretative ones (for example, the transformation of "The Beverly Hillbillies" from a popular show detested by the critics, to a blockbuster after its elevation as the critics' darling), and juxtaposes industry-based reasons (for example, the ways in which TV shows derive success from placement in the weekly programming schedule) with stylistic explanations (how, for instance, certain shows create pleasure from a repetition and variation of a formula).

Staiger concludes that because of changes in the industry, these shows were a phenomenon that may never be repeated. And while the western or the night-time soap has at times captured public attention, Blockbuster TV maintains that the sitcom has been THE genre to attract people to the tube, and that without understanding the sitcom, we can't properly understand the role of television in our culture.

Industry Reviews

"In this ingenious exploration, Janet Staiger presents three decades of lively public debate about television's role in U.S. culture. Weaving together research on audience, TV's promotional strategies, industry perspectives, and the diverse ingredients of comedy, Staiger crafts a vivid landscape of our common cultural pleasures."--Mary Beth Haralovich, coeditor of Television, History and American Culture: Feminist Critical Essays

Prefacep. ix
Introductionp. 1
The Beverly Hillbilliesp. 54
All in the Familyp. 81
Laverne and Shirleyp. 112
The Cosby Showp. 141
Epilogue: Some Final Observationsp. 160
Notesp. 177
Select Bibliographyp. 205
Indexp. 215
About the Authorp. 221
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780814797570
ISBN-10: 0814797571
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 234
Published: 1st October 2000
Publisher: New York University Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 20.9 x 13.97  x 1.47
Weight (kg): 0.27

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