The eighth edition of this indispensable guide provides information on more than 6,000 TV series that ran on broadcast, cable or syndication over the last 55 years. Show descriptions are a pleasure to read because they’re so brightly written, and the authors are unfailingly judicious in the amount of attention they give to the shows that warrant it.
“Gunsmoke,” which ran for 20 years on CBS, gets a full page in the book, with details about the show’s origins, its changes over the decades and the appeal of its many cast members. The authors are also admirably thorough: Even the two-episodes-and-out game-show flop “Guess Again,” from 1951, gets an 11-line anatomy of its complicated format.
Every show also gets a detailed list of the actors and the characters they played. The book’s index includes, among many other charts, a grid of all of the broadcast-network primetime schedules through the 2002-03 season; a list of all the Emmy winners since the first one in 1948; and the 30 highest-rated shows each season through 2002-03.