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Before The Title, Past
A Nonfiction Column
By Jeff Shelby

  Where's the Remote?

     The television is a good friend of mine.

     Over the years, I have taken a lot of grief for my relationship with television. I am an unabashed fan of the medium and I don’t apologize for it. I grew up with cartoons and The Brady Bunch, moved onto MTV and The Dukes of Hazzard and currently feast on reality shows and sports. If I’m in the house, the television is usually on. I fall asleep with the television on. (I maintain that the sleep timer function is THE greatest invention of the last fifty years – at least until TiVo entered the scene.) The naysayers of television just can’t appreciate the fine nuance of, say, The Love Boat or The Bachelor the way I can. Just don’t ask me to explain that nuance…

     So here I offer four very entertaining books dedicated to the tube…

Live from New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live
by Tom Shales, James Andrew Miller

   SNL is arguably the most influential show to ever run on television. This book tells us the story of the show through the viewpoints of the cast members, writers, producers and guests. The accounts are unfailingly honest, usually quite funny and sometimes shocking. You don’t need to be a fan of the show to enjoy this book.

The Cheers Trivia Book
by Mark Wenger

     Quick now – what were the name’s of Carla’s children? What kind of car did Sam drive? Where was Woody originally from? The answers to those questions and hundreds of others can be found in this book about the most successful sitcom of the last twenty five years.

ESPN: The Uncensored History
by Michael Freeman

    The anchors of ESPN’s Sportscenter are like frequent visitors in our home. We call them by first name and look forward to seeing them on our television. This book covers the history of the channel that changed the face of cable and gets us behind the personalities that give the network its flavor. Not all of it is pretty, but most of it is very interesting.

Television Sitcom Fact Book: Over 8,700 Details from 130 Shows, 1985-2000
by Vincent Terrace

     There is no better television companion for your nightstand than this book. Chock full of everything you ever wanted to know – and a few things you didn’t want to know – about every sitcom to appear between 1985 and 2000. This book is the ultimate argument settler when questions arise about who played what role on that show who’s title you can’t quite recall.

    Now, if I can just talk my wife into buying that flat screen...

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