By David Thomson
“The invention, or the old fashioned piece of furnishings, wandered into our lives within the Forties, as a primitive plaything, a smart if awkward addition to the family. It used to be dear, unreliable and just a little an invalid.” ―Television, A Biography
In quite a few years, what was once an motionless piece of front room furnishings, which one needed to sit down in entrance of at appointed instances to be able to watch backed programming on a finite variety of channels, morphed right into a gleaming cloud of monitors with entry to a near-endless offer of content material to be had while and the way audience wish it. With this phenomenon now a standard cultural subject, a author of David Thomson’s stature offering a severe heritage, or “biography” of the six-decade tv period, could be an important occasion that could no longer be extra well timed. With Television, the critic and movie historian who wrote what Sight and Sound's readers referred to as “the most crucial movie publication of the final 50 years” has eventually grew to become his distinct powers of statement to the medium that has swallowed movie whole.
Over twenty-two thematically prepared chapters, Thomson brings his provocatively insightful and distinctive voice to the lifetime of what was once tv. David Thomson surveying a Boschian panorama, illuminated via that singular glow―always “on”―and peopled through all people from Donna Reed to Dennis Potter, stands out as the first entire background of the defining medium of our time.
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Additional info for Television: A Biography
But is that mood turning archaic? Already, the tableau of the family gathered at the hearth called television is an emblem of nostalgia like Dickensian tableaux of Christmas. We’ve known for our lifetime that any home can be disappeared: It is vulnerable to destructive blast, to bombs, drones, and occupation. One of the abiding images of television (on the News, in fiction) is the devastated home—is it a poetic corrective to the neurotic domesticity in commercials? Are those footsteps on the stairs coming to dispossess us?
In the foreground of that wasteland, along with an abandoned television set—a fussy antique from the fifties or sixties—you could see an elephant, perched on its hind legs, like Babar in a circus, twirling his trunk at us in a mood that might be teasing, saying “Hi, there,” or sending a warning. But the more I thought about books and television, the more this approach felt like an ominous relic from the sixties and seventies—and there were books then, stunned by television and its threat. The most striking of them was Jerry Mander’s inspired and irrefutable Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television (1978).
We’d best reconcile ourselves to a scheme in which television (or something like it) will outlast us and become not just a window on the world but the entire house where we live. This is going to be a book about the cultural atmosphere our several small screens have made, and how we have little power over their momentum beyond the on/off switch. It is less a straight line ahead than a plan of rooms in a house. It is the house we live in, busy but helpless, untidy but structured—and it has had strange effects on how we live.
Television: A Biography by David Thomson