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Television has taken firm hold of American life ever since the first flickering images replaced the disembodied voices innocently crackling from the radio. Ever present and evolving, television thrives at the crossroads of commerce, art, and entertainment. In Not Remotely Controlled cultural critic Lee Siegel collects his reportage and musings on this most hybrid medium. Whether chronicling the history of the "cop" drama, revealing the inherent irony in Donald Trump's character on "The Apprentice," or shedding light on those unheralded gems that Neilsen ratings swept away prematurely, Siegel gives each episode, series, or documentary the attention and respect usually reserved for high-art and dusty literature. Going far beyond mere pans and praise, Siegel has given long-overdue attention to America's most pervasive art form: television.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780465078103
ISBN-10: 0465078109
Format: Paperback
(210mm x 140mm x 25mm)
Pages: 368
Imprint: Basic Books
Publisher: The Perseus Books Group
Publish Date: 2-Aug-2007
Country of Publication: United States


US Kirkus Review » Hit-and-mostly-miss collection of 50-plus New Republic essays over-intellectualizing the boob tube's not particularly intellectual output.As the magazine's television reporter from 2003 to 2006, Siegel (Falling Upwards, 2006, etc.) was paid to spend hours parked in front of the TV (watching cop shows, game shows, made-for-TV movies, you name it), then preach about their virtues, or lack thereof. Many of the programs the New Republic asked Siegel to dissect - e.g., Joey, The O.C., Deal or No Deal - do not merit the author's time or energy, as the shows are A) mindless entertainment and B) will be soon forgotten. Another problem with this anthology is that Siegel spends too much brainpower on product that's created strictly as escapism. Writing about the goofy but entertaining food-as-sport show Iron Chef America, he notes that, "In Soviet Russia, revolution, counterrevolution, endurance, and dissent all were hatched in the kitchen." He might be right, but the pronouncement is misplaced and off-putting. Collection highlights include thoughtful articles on Curb Your Enthusiasm, Extras and Deadwood, providing a spotlight on shows that justify sharp analysis. Those interested in the modern television landscape should turn to Bill Carter's Desperate Networks (2006), a fine work of straight-up journalism that offers critical insight into today's television scene - and Carter wasn't even trying. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Lee Siegel

Lee Siegel is a renowned critic and essayist whose writing appears in Harper's, The New Republic, Time, The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, among other publications. He received the 2002 National Magazine Award for Reviews and Criticism. He is the author of Falling Upwards. Siegel is a senior editor at The New Republic. He lives with his wife and child in New York City.

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