Thursday, February 05, 2009

Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 Through 2007

Originally published in the January, 2009, Old Radio Times.(

Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 Through 2007, Vincent Terrace
Reviewed by Jim Cox

It will be a while before anybody tops Vincent Terrace’s latest volume on the TV industry. McFarland & Company has recently released a four-volume set under the topic Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2007. With 9,375 entries spread over 1,700 pages, its inclusiveness is truly mind-boggling. The four-column index of names alone is spread over another 139 pages. Let’s play “Can You Top This?” and see if anybody can!

Terrace most likely will be recalled by vintage radio connoisseurs as the author of a similar volume released a decade ago from the same publisher bearing the less glorified title Radio Programs, 1924-1984: A Catalog of Over 1800 Shows. That one became one of the standards in the treasury of “what’s out there”—a handful of tomes with comparable objectives that went about their far-reaching programming listings differently. If you liked that book, you’ll probably like the new softcover TV encyclopedia as both follow the same style.

The author of more than 30 volumes on broadcasting which lean heavily toward television, Terrace identifies each series by genre in the new release. He notes whether a series was on a network or in syndication, includes seasons on the air and names major cast members while providing a pithy synopsis of premise, plot or features. In lots of ways it’s a nostalgic return to “the good old days” when television actually entertained and informed, unlike its bent toward fill-time repetitiveness now. Many of the shows we have long forgotten are brought to life again in Terrace’s fact-filled, easy-to-read summations. And because there are so many, you can readily find stopping points. Or just turn to those you’re interested in. There is plenty here worth recalling.

Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2007, may be ordered at 800-253-2187 and While its $145 tab may seem steep for the four-volume set, that works out to about a penny-and-a-half per entry. That seems a bargain for that much detail, especially with the scholarship and time investment behind it. It’s recommended for researchers, media historians and nostalgia buffs, too.


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