Select one of the keywords
Desperate Networks    by Bill Carter order for
Desperate Networks
by Bill Carter
Order:  USA  Can
Doubleday, 2006 (2006)
Hardcover, CD

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by David Pitt

From the veteran television journalist comes a look at what's been going on at the big four television networks in the past few years. As you know, if you follow the entertainment news, NBC, unable to score a new hit sitcom, plummeted from first to last place; CBS, riding high with CSI, rose to first; FOX gained ratings points with American Idol and respect with dramas like 24 and House; and ABC had two of the biggest hits in recent years with Lost and Desperate Housewives.

But, as you'll see, how things got to the way they are is a convoluted and fascinating story. Did you know, for example, that FOX had such strong doubts about House that they wanted to cut the initial episode order from 22 down to 16? That ABC turned down both CSI and American Idol? That NBC could have had Lost? Think how different the television landscape might have looked ...

Carter writes simply, like a journalist; and dramatically, like a novelist. ('David Westin, the president of ABC News, felt sucker-punched.') He writes the story like a novel, too, creating heroes and villains, building suspense, chucking plot twists at us without warning-- like the neat moment when an ABC executive learns that the one that got away, CSI, the show nobody expected anything much from, actually beat its high-profile lead-in, The Fugitive, in the ratings on the night they both debuted.

This is, for the television fan, a must-read, with at least one juicy revelation on every page. Carter, who also wrote The Late Shift (chronicling the battle between Leno and Letterman for Carson's Tonight Show gig), has been writing about television for going on three decades, and what I like most about him is that, unlike many small-screen journalists, he doesn't seem to have an agenda, an axe to grind, a point to score. He seems genuinely to respect the medium, and the people who toil in it; and he merely wants us to love television, the whole baffling, complex, frustrating, glorious business, as much as he does.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more NonFiction books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews