Sunday, July 8, 2007

review of John Kenneth Muir's TV Year: Volume 1

Last July 23, I wrote in an op-ed in Newsday that television was clearly enjoying a "new golden age". My evidence ranged from 24 and Battlestar Galactica to Rome and Weeds. Jon Cassar, accepting the much-deserved Emmy for Director of the Best TV Drama - 24 - a few months later, told the world how happy he was to be part of this new golden age. I'm sure many others recognized its onset as well, both before and after my and Cassar's observations.

If there is any flaw in John Kenneth Muir's TV Year: Volume 1: The Prime-Time 2005-2006 Season, it is that he and tv producer Larry Brody (Hawaii Five-O -aloha!), in their introductions to the volume, present the "new golden age" recognition as if it is some sense debatable.

It is not. It is apparent to anyone with eyes and taste.

This inaugural volume of what will be a yearly series published by Applause Theatre & Cinema Books out of New York City makes this case beautifully. Detailed information on cast and credits, sage and humorous commentary, interview excerpts and even bits of gossip all conspire to make this book both necessary for anyone seriously interested in television - as I obviously am here on - and enjoyable to anyone who watches any of it.

And I even agree with most of Muir's commentary . . . Showtime's Brotherhood is "sexy, gritty, and never less than compelling" and "thrives as a terrific summer series . . ." Absolutely! Weeds is a "brilliantly written and performed highlight" of the television season . . . One-hundred percent! - see the rave review I posted here just a few minutes ago. HBO's Rome was "splendid . . ." Yes, indeed! (Here I am raving about Rome, too.)

The volume inevitably suffers from the passage of time which is the burden of any printed volume versus what you can get online. It's not very interesting to read about Lost Season 2, or the next-to-last series of episodes of The Sopranos, now in July 2007 when the Season 3 finale of Lost and the series finale of The Sopranos were so magnificently (in different ways) and masterfully mindblowing.

TV Year: Volume 1But that's a small quibble. A book is a book, and has its own advantage over electrons on screens. A book comes with batteries always included - that is, the light of day or any light bulb - and it has what I call "reliable locatability," meaning, what's on page 24 today will be on page 24 forever. That beats even the reliability of the IMDB.

I'm looking forward to Volume 2 next year.

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