"A gracefully written grabber overflowing with affection and canny detail."—Newsday
"Fans of ‘quality TV drama series’ will have a field day with Syracuse University professor Thompson’s multidisciplinary examination of ‘the return of the serious, literary, writer-based drama’ over the past 15 years. Allotting full chapters
to breakthrough series Hill Street Blues and St. Elsewhere, Thompson reviews a bit more briefly the histories of 1980s classics Cagney & Lacey, Moonlighting, L.A. Law, thirtysomething, and China Beach and their ‘quirky’ 1990s successors Twin Peaks, Northern Exposure, and Picket Fences. ‘The Future of Quality’ chapter describes the networks’ retreat from writer-based drama in the early 1990s and the return to it in series like NYPD Blue, Law & Order, Homicide: Life on the Street, Chicago Hope, and the number one hit, ER. This survey will appeal to several audiences: People readers will relish the gossip; Fortune readers will zero in on the economics of quality versus junk-food television; and readers monitoring media transmogrifications will find Thompson’s analysis of TV’s institutionalization of quality drama fascinating."—Booklist
Robert J. Thompson is professor at S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University, and the director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University.
6 x 9, 220 pages, 10 black and white illustrations