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When I was in high school and started to find myself enthralled by television, my father subscribed to Entertainment Weekly. When I became a young adult in college, I shelled out for a subscription to TV Guide to go along with my monthly Nintendo Power. In the media world, TV is one of my great loves, and I own countless boxed sets of my favorite television series (close to 70, and that's not counting shows I have purchased on iTunes such as Rome, Deadwood, Top Chef, and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.)

I started reading Ken Tucker's Kissing Bill O'Reilly, Roasting Miss Piggy about a year ago and was distracted by other things before I finished. Tucker is quite evidently from the format and style of the book a journalist and critic, and he gives every item he either loves or hate a one- to four-page treatment of exactly why he feels the way he does. Literally every major movement, network, and show of the last fifty years has their time to either shine or be spat upon by Tucker's witty, tongue-in-cheek commentary, and even when he railed against a show I love--The West Wing, for instance--I could appreciate his commentary even if I didn't agree.

Tucker's book is a few years old (2005) and leaves out, to my mind, some of the more memorable shows of the last few years, from the "reboot" of 90210 (a show I was too young to watch at the time it came out and now am too old to care about) to Grey's Anatomy and House, and the further spinoffs of shows he loves to not-exactly-hate such as CSI. I appreciate Tucker's honesty, though, and the fact that he's not afraid to point out some of the poorer choices that television as an industry has made in the last fifty years.

My one major quibble (it's hard to have really concrete thoughts on a book that is basically "My personal thoughts on various TV shows") is the ending order of the book. Second-to-last, he talks about nostalgia as a sign of quality and how networks like Nickelodeon, with its "Nick at Night" programming, perpetuates the supposed quality of shows that were never that good in the first place. But rather than ending it on that note, he undermines the stronger conclusion with a weaker one: why TV shows shouldn't bother with sex scenes. I was jarred by the ending. But then again, Tucker said earlier on he hated the sentimentality of final episodes, so many that was intentional, after all.


the forest-dweller

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