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Classic TV show books (1 Viewer)

Your Tulpa

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What are your favorites and what should I be on the lookout for? What should I be avoiding?

So far I've enjoyed:

The twilight zone companion/unlocking the door
the outer limits companion
the David Susskind biography
the box: an oral history of television

I've got a copy of the Sterling Silliphant biography but haven't read it yet.

There's a Fugitive book, Hitchcock presents book, and Albert Salmi biography that have piqued my interest.

The Don and Andy biography looks interesting. I know there are a couple Andy Griffith books that are supposed to be decent.

I'm pretty much interested in anything classic TV related aside from the basic episode guides. I'm after Behind-the-scenes stuff, analysis, general show histories, biographies of major and minor actors etc.

I wish one of the actors that worked on a lot of the early 60s dramas would have written a book about their experiences on those shows. Someone like Lois Nettleton must've had a lot of interesting stories.
 
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The Obsolete Man

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Check out The Dick Van Dyke Show book by Vince Waldron, and the I Love Lucy Companion by Bart Andrews.

My Name is Friday is a great book on Jack Webb and Dragnet.

And if you're a Trekkie, Star Trek Phase II by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, and The Star Trek Deep Space Nine Companion are overflowing with behind the scenes information.
 

bmasters9

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Here are a few of mine that I have that I think are very good:

--The Streets of San Francisco: A Quinn Martin TV Series (James Rosin's look back at that 1972-77 ABC police/detective series w/the late Karl Malden as Lt. Mike Stone, Michael Douglas as Insp. Steve Keller [1972-76], and the late Richard Hatch as Insp. Dan Robbins [1976-77])

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--Petrocelli: An Episode Guide and Much More by Sandra Grabman; tribute to and episode guide for that 1974-76 NBC legal series w/Barry Newman and Susan Howard as Tony and Maggie Petrocelli (Tony the defense attorney in the fictional town of San Remo, AZ [filmed in Tucson], Maggie being his wife), and the late Albert Salmi as their legman Pete Ritter

petrocellibook1.jpg

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--The Making of Star Trek by Stephen E. Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry (only covers the first two seasons of O-R NBC Trek of the 60s, but, IMO, is the best book I've ever read about the O-R Trek that started it all)

trekbook1.jpg

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Mitchell Hadley

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If I might indulge it a bit of shameless self-promotion, I'd suggest my own book, The Electronic Mirror: What Classic TV Tells Us About Who We Were and Who We Are (and Everything In-Between!), which just came out last week. It's a collection of essays on how classic TV reflects the times in which the shows were made and how they influence the future - not only what classic TV is, but what it means, and why it's important. Hopefully, readers will find out why classic TV should be taken seriously as a source of cultural history. (And also why the shows were better!)

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Jeff Flugel

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Look forward to checking your book out at some point, Mitchell!

There are MANY good reference books on classic TV series. I'm sure there are some good ones I'm forgetting, but you can't go wrong with any of the titles listed below:

These Are the Voyages (about Star Trek: The Original Series) and I Spy books by Marc Cushman (insanely detailed and fascinating reads, the neo plus ultra of any TV series book, IMO)

The Twilight Zone Companion by Marc Scott Zicree (another great cornerstone volume)


Other very good-to-excellent TV reference books in my personal library include:

- The Fugitive, The Rockford Files and Maverick books by Ed Robertson

- The Night Stalker Companion by Mark Dawidziak

- The Mission Impossible Dossier by Patrick J. White

- Cult TV: The Golden Age of ITC by Robert Sellers (though this is more of an overview of multiple series, and thus isn't as in-depth as I'd like, but covers all of the many ITC shows with lots of interviews)

- All Memories Great & Small, by Oliver Crocker is structured very differently than most books of this type, consisting solely of interviews with various actors, writers and production staff on an episode-by-episode basis. Lots of quality info here, not just on the show itself, but 70s and 80s British television production in general.

- Lots of good books on Star Trek and Doctor Who. For the latter, I like the (highly opinionated but info-packed) About Time series and the two (so far) Running Through Corridors books.

- The Outer Limits Companion by David J. Schow, long out-of-print but legendary (there are some rumblings about a new, updated version of this coming soon; fingers crossed!)

- The recent Mr. Novak book by Chuck Harter is very good as well (see Flashgear's dedicated Novak thread for more info)

The Bionic Book: The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman Reconstructed, by Herbie J. Pilato is one I recently bought for Kindle and am enjoying as I re-discover these childhood faves on DVD.
 
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jperez

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Through the years I've bought 'companion bpoks for Maverick, The Avengers, Combat! and a great one doing an in depth study, episode by episode,,of Danger Man and The Prisoner. A big disappointment is the James Rosin Route 66 companion, which is very slim and superficial, in my opinion. Most of the book is taken by an episode by episode plot narration, which would be OK if at least it had a critical view, but it's just a straight narration. This seems to me to be the usual approach taken by professional writers that produce several books about a particular subject (in this case TV shows from the sixties) but are not necessarily experts on any of them and I guess that they don't want to alienate the fans. The rest of the book is interesting, with several interviews with key collaborators and some anecdotes, but not very in depth. I'm particularly saddened because its one of my favorite series and it deserved much better.
 

Jeff Flugel

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Through the years I've bought 'companion bpoks for Maverick, The Avengers, Combat! and a great one doing an in depth study, episode by episode,,of Danger Man and The Prisoner. A big disappointment is the James Rosin Route 66 companion, which is very slim and superficial, in my opinion. Most of the book is taken by an episode by episode plot narration, which would be OK if at least it had a critical view, but it's just a straight narration. This seems to me to be the usual approach taken by professional writers that produce several books about a particular subject (in this case TV shows from the sixties) but are not necessarily experts on any of them and I guess that they don't want to alienate the fans. The rest of the book is interesting, with several interviews with key collaborators and some anecdotes, but not very in depth. I'm particularly saddened because its one of my favorite series and it deserved much better.

Yes, highly agree with you re: the Rosin Route 66 book. I've heard Rosin interviewed on various podcasts, and he seems like a nice fella, but in this day and age, with episode summaries easily found on the net for most TV shows, publishing a book which is 85-90% episode summary is not enough, IMO. That's why I'm hesitant to buy any more of Rosin's books, despite my interest in many of the series he has covered (such as The Invaders, Quincy, M.D., Naked City, Adventures in Paradise, Wagon Train, etc.) Some of these might be good; for example, Ben M. above has positive things to say about Rosin's Streets of San Francisco book.

I felt similarly disappointed in Sue Kessler's book about The Wild Wild West; a rather thin, anemic volume composed chiefly of episode synopses. I wish someone like Marc Cushman would put out a more thorough work on this, one of my most beloved TV series.

You're probably right that some authors might not want to give too much critical analysis for fear of alienating fans (and some fans do indeed get up in arms at some critics' takes on TV series they love), but I'd prefer to hear an author's considered views about which episodes work or not, and why they think so, at least if they are intelligently presented. Just a bald recapitulation of the plot of episodes is not particularly useful, IMO.

Hate to be negative, but Bartholomew did also ask for books to avoid.
 
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Flashgear

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I agree with everything thus far posted. Although I find some minor virtues even in the most inadequate and disappointing books that have already been mentioned in this thread. I can recommend these...

Sterling Silliphant: The Fingers of God by Nat Segaloff.
Quinn Martin, Producer by Jonathan Etter.
Roy Huggins by Paul Green.
Mr. Novak, An Acclaimed Television Series by Chuck Harter.
The Virginian, History of the Television series by Paul Green.
I Spy by Marc Cushman.
The Official Dick Van Dyke Show Book by Vince Waldron.
Combat! A Viewers Companion by Jo Davidsmeyer.
The 12 O'clock High Logbook by Allan T. Duffin and Paul Matheis.
This is a Thriller by Alan Warren.
Dimensions Behind the Twilight Zone by Stewart T. Stanyard.
Superman, From Cereal to Serial by Gary Grossman.
Have Gun Will Travel by Martin Grams.
Alfred Hitchcock Presents by Martin Grams.
Science Fiction Theater by Martin Grams.
Twilight Zone by Martin Grams.
Car 54 Where Are You? by Martin Grams.

The Segaloff book on Silliphant contains some fascinating revelations about his personal life and political interests (meeting N. Vietnam General Giap!) The book on Roy Huggins is very valuable and likewise presents some surprising information about him. The Duffin and Matheis book on 12 O'clock High covers everything from the real life personalities and wartime events that produced the bestselling book, Oscar winning film and the television series. Stanyard's book on TZ contains a wealth of behind the scenes photos and production archive materials. Martin Grams books are mostly wonderful, but sometimes with obsessive and extraneous info, like the cheque # for a purchased script, ha, ha... there are a number of other worthy and sometimes out of print books not mentioned already...it certainly isn't an easily accomplished task in writing an in depth, authoritative and entertaining book on any of the many decades old television series...the first person accounts simply aren't available anymore, due to advanced age or mortality...
 
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Ron Lee Green

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The Bewitched Book by Herbie Pilato (or the updated version, Bewitched Forever) is my favorite TV book because he interviewed most of the main cast members who were still living at the time, especially Elizabeth Montgomery since she didn't grant many interviews, and seemed to have distanced herself from the show after it ended, and also Dick York who practically vanished from show biz. They recall their behind-the-scenes memories of the show, and their favorite episodes. Author Pilato explores the meaning behind the show. The second half of the book is the standard episode guide which you'll probably want to avoid.
 
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JohnHopper

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Espionage
Bowler Hats and Kinky Boots: The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to The Avengers by Michael Richardson
The Avengers Dossier: The Definitive Unauthorised Guide by Paul Cornell
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Book: The Behind-the-Scenes Story of a Television Classic by Jon Heitland
I Spy: A History and Episode Guide to the Groundbreaking Television Series by Marc Cushman
The Wild Wild West by Sue Kessler
The Mission Impossible Dossier by Patrick J. White

Science fiction/Horror/Fantasy
The Twilight Zone Companion by Marc Scott Zicree
The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic by Martin Grams, Jr
A Dimension of Sound: Music in the Twilight Zone by Reba Wissner
Visions from Twilight Zone by Arlen Schumer
This is a Thriller by Alan Warren
The Outer Limits Companion by David J. Schow
We Will Control All That You Hear: The Outer Limits and the Aural Imagination by Reba Wissner
The Television Companion: The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Doctor Who by David J. Howe, Stephen James Walker
About Time 3: The Unauthorized Guide to Doctor Who (Seasons 7 to 11) by Tat Wood, et al
Rod Serling's Night Gallery: An After-Hours Tour by Scott Skelton
The Night Stalker Companion by Mark Dawidziak

Cop/Detective Story/Film Noir
Alfred Hitchcock Presents by Martin Grams, Jr
The Fugitive Recaptured : The 30th Anniversary Companion to a Television Classic by Ed Robertson

War
Combat! A Viewers Companion by Jo Davidsmeyer

Miscellaneous
Cult TV: The Golden Age of ITC by Robert Sellers
Quinn Martin, Producer: A Behind-the-Scenes History of QM Productions and Its Founder by Jonathan Etter
Who And Me: The Memoir of Barry Letts, Doctor Who Producer 1969-1974 by Barry Letts
Movies Made for Television: The Telefeature and the Mini-Series: 1964-1986 by Alvin H. Marill
The ABC Movie of the Week Companion: a loving tribute to the classic series by Michael Karol
Television Fright Films of the 1970's by David Deal
Unsold Television Pilots, Volume 1: 1955-1976 by Lee Goldberg

PS: I wish I had The Columbo Phile: A Casebook by Mark Dawidziak.
 
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bmasters9

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One other thing: the books that I mentioned (at least those about The Streets of San Francisco and Petrocelli) will, IMO, enhance the viewing of those series on DVD (in essence, making perfect companions).

James Rosin's Streets volume is a great companion to CBS' all-in-one condensed Streets DVD release...

002.JPG


...and likewise Sandra Grabman's Petrocelli volume to VEI's Complete Collection release.

petrocellibookdvd.jpg


To take this on a somewhat related tangent: how many others of you have paired the series DVD release(s) (whether all-in-one or individual releases) with the books about those series (IOW, how many of you have both the series and the book about the series)?
 
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jperez

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Yes, highly agree with you re: the Rosin Route 66 book. I've heard Rosin interviewed on various podcasts, and he seems like a nice fella, but in this day and age, with episode summaries easily found on the net for most TV shows, publishing a book which is 85-90% episode summary is not enough, IMO. That's why I'm hesitant to buy any more of Rosin's books, despite my interest in many of the series he has covered (such as The Invaders, Quincy, M.D., Naked City, Adventures in Paradise, Wagon Train, etc.) Some of these might be good; for example, Ben M. above has positive things to say about Rosin's Streets of San Francisco book.

I felt similarly disappointed in Sue Kessler's book about The Wild Wild West; a rather thin, anemic volume composed chiefly of episode synopses. I wish someone like Marc Cushman would put out a more thorough work on this, one of my most beloved TV series.

You're probably right that some authors might not want to give too much critical analysis for fear of alienating fans (and some fans do indeed get up in arms at some critics' takes on TV series they love), but I'd prefer to hear an author's considered views about which episodes work or not, and why they think so, at least if they are intelligently presented. Just a bald recapitulation of the plot of episodes is not particularly useful, IMO.

Hate to be negative, but Bartholomew did also ask for books to avoid.
 

jperez

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The funny thing about Route 66 -and I guess about many shows, including classic ones- is that there inevitable are sub par episodes, but its also interesting reading analysis about them. I read a Marin Milner interview once where he said that, on average, of every four Route 66 episodes, one was really bad and two were so-so, but then there also was a good or great one. Of course, a so-so Route 66 episode probably reached artistic depths that would be out of reach for most other series, then and now.
Sadly, the series finale two parter -an anomaly in that era, where series, besides The Fugitive, seldom had an ending- may still hold the record for worst series finale ever: an idiotic comedy-farse that never works.
 
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Jeff Flugel

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PS: I wish I had The Columbo Phile: A Casebook by Mark Dawidziak.

Me too! I found a paperback copy once in a used bookstore several years ago, selling for $200 (!!!) The shop owner offered me a "discount" of $160. Uh, no. Still, would love to have an updated, affordable copy of that book.
 

Jeff Flugel

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One other thing: the books that I mentioned (at least those about The Streets of San Francisco and Petrocelli) will, IMO, enhance the viewing of those series on DVD (in essence, making perfect companions).

James Rosin's Streets volume is a great companion to CBS' all-in-one condensed Streets DVD release...

View attachment 49206

...and likewise Sandra Grabman's Petrocelli volume to VEI's Complete Collection release.

View attachment 49207

To take this on a somewhat related tangent: how many others of you have paired the series DVD release(s) (whether all-in-one or individual releases) with the books about those series (IOW, how many of you have both the series and the book about the series)?

Well, Ben, those two Rosin books look a lot thicker and potentially more substantial content-wise than his slim Route 66 volume that Jorge and I disparaged earlier in this thread. Will look into picking those up at one point...like I said, Rosin seems like a nice guy who truly loves these old shows. Would like to give him another chance.

As far as your question goes, I haven't really read a book about a series as I work through said series episode by episode. For one, I rarely watch a series exclusively to its conclusion, like you and several other members here seem to do, but instead cherry-pick episodes here and there, or work through it in sequence but over the course of several years.

Also, I generally pick up these kind of show specific books after some exposure to the series in question; in other words, I will have usually watched several episodes of a given show before I invest in a book about it. One exception to this rule is the aforementioned Chuck Harter book about Mr. Novak, a series I've never seen and had heard little about until that book and Flashgear's information-packed reviews here.
 

bmasters9

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As far as your question goes, I haven't really read a book about a series as I work through said series episode by episode. For one, I rarely watch a series exclusively to its conclusion, like you and several other members here seem to do, but instead cherry-pick episodes here and there, or work through it in sequence but over the course of several years.

Which.is how I did it w/Streets: I picked up where I left off, then cherrypicked, and finally saw the rest of the series straight through (and Karl Malden's Mike Stone was so riveting that I felt that the rest of the series deserved an exclusive viewing).
 

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