Television Finales: From Howdy Doody to Girls by Douglas L. Howard & David Bianculli (Editors)

 

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Television Finales was an interesting book to read. Multiple genres of television were represented throughout the book: sitcoms, talk shows, children’s shows, drama, soap opera, science fiction, horror, western, medical dramas, and police/crime/procedural  dramas.

Many of my personal favorites were featured:

  • Battlestar Galactica
  • Breaking Bad
  • Downton Abbey
  • ER
  • Fringe
  • Lost
  • Quantum Leap
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation

It was fun to read about these series, in particular, and even when I didn’t agree with the conclusions given by the various writers of the essays, it was interesting to read their thoughts about the overall series in question.

The table of contents has two additional sections; contents by year, and contents by genre. This will be useful for readers who prefer to read only about specific genres, or want to explore the book in chronological order (1960-2017). I read it in from the beginning to the end, not bothering to make use of the additional tables of contents—if I had skipped around reading only specific essays, I might have missed out on the essays dealing with shows I’d never heard of or bothered watching in the past.(Thanks to this list, I added Nurse Jackie to my Netflix watch list—reading about it made me want to check out the show!)

Most of the series discussed in this book are U.S. television shows, but there are a few essays focusing on British shows (such as Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes) that were fascinating to read about.

If you love reading books such as this, I’ll think you’ll find it to be entertaining, as well as informative. Who knows? It may even inspire you to start watching some of them for the first time… just like me!

I received an advance reading copy of this book courtesy of Syracuse University Press via Edelweiss.

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Editors: Douglas L. Howard & David Bianculli
Title: Television Finales: From Howdy Doody to Girls
Genre: Nonfiction, Performing Arts, Television
Publication Date: October 15, 2018 by Syracuse University Press
Rating: 3.5 stars

About the Book

Today more than ever, series finales have become cultural touchstones that feed watercooler fodder and Twitter storms among a committed community of viewers. While the final episodes of The Fugitive and M*A*S*H continue to rank among the highest rated broadcasts, more recent shows draw legions of binge-watching fans. Given the importance of finales to viewers and critics alike, Howard and Bianculli along with the other contributors explore these endings and what they mean to the audience, both in terms of their sense of narrative and as episodes that epitomize an entire show. Bringing together a veritable “who’s who” of television scholars, journalists, and media experts, including Robert Thompson, Martha Nochimson, Gary Edgerton, David Hinckley, Kim Akass, and Joanne Morreale, the book offers commentary on some of the most compelling and often controversial final episodes in television history. Each chapter is devoted to a separate finale, providing readers with a comprehensive survey of these watershed moments. Gathering a unique international lineup of journalists and media scholars, the book also offers readers an intriguing variety of critical voices and perspectives.

About the Editors

DOUGLAS L. HOWARD is academic chair of the English Department on the Ammerman Campus at Suffolk County Community College. He is the editor of Dexter: Investigating Cutting Edge Television and a coeditor of The Essential Sopranos Reader.

DAVID BIANCULLI has been a TV critic since 1975, currently runs the website TVWorthWatching.com, and serves as guest host for NPR’s Fresh Air. He is the author of The Platinum Age of Television: From I Love Lucy to The Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific.

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