As a listener of (and sometimes guest on) Eventually Supertrain, I’ve been introduced to several knowledgeable people. Dan Budnik does a fab job of finding guest hosts to discuss his short-lived TV shows. It’s an eclectic mix of voices, which I appreciate.
One of those voices is Mitchell Hadley of It’s About TV (absolutely check out his site; it’s super cool and informative). And when Mitchell said he wrote a book about TV, I knew I had to get it.
I actually acquired and read it a while ago, but I was a person who’d gotten lax with her blog then. That’s why I’m writing the book up now. I’m a new person.
The Electronic Mirror: What Classic TV Tells Us About Who We Were and Who We Are (and Everything In-Between!) is a collection of essays that gives the reader a cultural context of television. Organized by channels (which I love), the book covers topics such as the concept of classic television, the impact television has on us, communism, censorship, politics, violence, religion, and the various personalities who’ve made their marks.
Nothing occurs in a vacuum and television definitely didn’t. Mitchell provides so much context for a lot of the television that happened back in the day, stuff that people my age experienced in reruns. For example, there’s an essay called “Man on the Run” about The Fugitive and how ground breaking it was at time when the justice system and all of its components were seen as the ultimate authority. To say that it was fallible because an innocent man had been convicted of a horrible crime was kind of a big deal. This is a show that I used to watch in high school when I had insomnia. It’s a good show. I like it. But the context of it never really occurred to me until I read the essay. Yeah, it would kind of be a thing in 1963, wouldn’t it?
There’s a lot of history packed into these pages, which I appreciate. As someone who likes to learn things, I ended up acquiring a bunch of knowledge from the book. Some of the history is to provide context, but some of it is because television made history itself. Or was used to make history.
It’s fascinating to put all of those pieces together to create a much fuller picture of life not only at that time, but also how that picture informs the picture we’ve got going on today.
It’s an informative book and if you’re looking to go a little deeper into your TV knowledge, it’s definitely a read for you. Acquire it!