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Sitcom: A History in 24 Episodes from I Love Lucy to Community (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 1. März 2014

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2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Brings out the furious TV expert in us all 17. April 2014
Von Mary Lavers - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch
This was such a comforting book to read, like junk food in book form. It didn't hurt that I read it while I was sick in bed for a few days. It was like having a marathon of all my favourite TV shows in one easy read.

Even though Austerlitz chose episodes from 24 different TV shows to illustrate the history of American sitcoms, he mentions many more throughout the book. And don't worry, he did remember to exclude your favourites, just to annoy you. Or as he puts it: "Like any mix tape worth its salt, there will be grounds for complaint over what is left off as much as what is included." I think the mixed metaphor bothered me more than the missing TV shows.

The episodes he chose are arranged chronologically according to when the series first aired and there aren't a lot of surprises, in that all of the shows represented are TV classics in their own right (except The Phil Silvers Show. Does anybody remember that show?). He seems to have chosen the shows for their impact on television history, but the individual episodes for how much they exemplify the state of the medium itself. So a lot of the episodes he discusses are ones that are increasingly self-reflexive and self-referential.

The story Austerlitz is telling is that of sitcoms as an American art form that has increased in self-awareness as it becomes more and more a part of its viewers lives. When discussing The Honeymooners, for instance, he mentions that in a scene in which Ralph Kramden is supposed to be painting a wall, the paper-thin set wall shakes when he touches it because "they hadn't learned to hide those imperfections from us yet." Fast forward a few decades and Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin of 30 Rock are so aware of television conventions and viewer expectations that they deliberately subvert them as part of the joke. "Remember all those times..." they muse, prompting the viewers to wait for the inevitable flashback sequence. Instead the characters stare off blankly for a few beats, remembering.

Of course some of the author's choices are no doubt informed by his own personal tastes. Was Sex and the City REALLY a sitcom or did he want to include it because he liked the show? Was Friends REALLY the "last sitcom to be so hold the splintering masses together--or to want to"? Is Modern Family such a " deeply conservative reimagining of the classical sitcom decorated with contemporary touches"? And could he not find it in his heart to include an episode of Three's Company in the list? Or Maude? Or The Facts of Life? Or Good Times? Or anything starring Bob Newhart? And has he seen Archer? But I digress.

And sure, there are times when I wanted to nitpick and say, "But wait! That's not so!" His claims about the post-sitcom lives of the stars of Seinfeld and Friends, for instance, seems to include Julia Louis-Dreyfus' brilliant turn on Veep but ignore Lisa Kudrow's tour-de-force series Web Therapy. All right, I really am being nitpicky. But that's what television does to us. It turns us all into furious experts, arguing over how many episodes there were of Star Trek or whether we ever accepted the "new Becky."

I may not agree with Austerlitz's assertion that the sitcom is a uniquely American art form (he doesn't include any British shows, though he does mention a few) nor that it's in its last stages of decline. But I do agree that it is a uniquely unifying art form. Even though more than half of the shows he talks about in the book aired before I was born, I can attest that I have seen every single one of the 24 episodes he lists (except The Phil Silvers Show. Seriously, what was that?)

For more about this and other books, please visit my blog, Cozy Little Book Journal.
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The situation comedy is desperate, but not serious 26. April 2014
Von Roochak - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch
This isn't just a stroll down memory lane with your favorite sitcoms: author Saul Austerlitz argues that the sitcom's sixty-odd year history is "a capsule version of the twentieth century arts."

Realism -- all about the instability at the heart of 1950s conformism, and the gradual disintegration of that conformism through the '60s and '70s -- was the age of Ralph Kramden, Lucy Ricardo, Beaver Cleaver, Gilligan(!), Mary Richards, and Archie Bunker.

The modernist sitcom played to a mass audience while blurring the lines between comedy and drama (M*A*S*H), peppering soap opera romance with jokes (CHEERS, FRIENDS), making shows mimic the pointless, plotless minutiae of real life (SEINFELD), or exploding the sitcom format's boundaries altogether (THE SIMPSONS).

The postmodern sitcom -- arch, cerebral, self-reflexive, formidably well versed in the history of its genre -- plays to a dwindling audience of hipsters, critics, and intellectuals. While ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM, 30 ROCK, COMMUNITY, and THE OFFICE play to their hip, literate niche audiences, viewers who don't feel as if they're in on the joke are probably still watching CBS (the old people's network), where sitcoms haven't evolved since 1990.

I like this book. Rather than merely tickle our nostalgia and call it a day, Austerlitz makes the case that the sitcom is both a frequently embarrassing TV genre, and a pop art form that actually matters. It shows us ourselves, as what we aspire to, and as what we are.
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Worth it for the Community Essay 2. April 2014
Von Jen - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch
The last essay in the book, the Community essay was so well written. He beautifully explains how Community broke sitcom rules and conventions, thus allowing it to be free from being controlled by its own structure. Austerlitz also questions, "what happens after Community?" When all the rules and conventions become broken, where do we go from there? What do we expect now?
2 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Great concept, poor execution 28. April 2014
Von Eddie Wood - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Kindle Edition
When I first got this book I was very excited, as there have been few books written about sitcoms that treated them as an art form. There have been many books written about specific sitcoms, but few about the genre itself. The concept of using specific episodes as a history is clever. The disappointment comes with the analysis itself. While everyone is entitled to their opinion, I found very little of the analysis to be on the mark. Sometimes the author really doesn't get it, missing the what the show(s) were really about or seeing how they were different in their own way (the "Leave it to Beaver" chapter is a good example). The author is dismissive of such shows as "Everybody Loves Raymond," "Modern Family," and "The Big Bang Theory," thoroughly missing what makes all of them different than other sitcoms. I'm sure there is still a great book out there about sitcoms. This isn't it.
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2.5 Stars - Faulty Methodology. 25. April 2014
Von Amazon Review Name - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch
While several of Austerlitz's essays show a compelling argument for the inclusion of obscure sitcoms ("The Phil Silvers Show") and the division of the book by "episodes" is a cute concept, the methodology of selection is faulty and Austerlitz's personal acafan biases are very clear. In a book predicated on the thesis of cultural salience, where are any sitcoms in the milieu of black America in the '70s and '80s? Where are the sitcoms that spawned America's obsession with child stars? Where are the sitcoms that created the most well-known mainstream TV catchphrases? For pete's sake, where is Happy Days, which changed the language of TV reviewing forever ("jumping the shark")? The passion for certain of these shows that Austerlitz has in his personal life is clear and touching, but it clouds his ability to execute on the promised thesis.
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