The History of Prime Time Television

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The History of Prime Time Television is a user-friendly textbook that chronicles television's unique history from the drawing board to the living room, and beyond. Organized chronologically, the book begins by briefly addressing the age of invention and the birth of radio. However, the primary focus of the text surrounds prime time programming, homing in on the series that defined their respective decade by reflecting changes in the culture, style and values of the time, and how some went on to become iconic representations of 20th and 21st century America.

Each decade's historical importance, as well as all of the nuance and chronological markers connected to the story of television itself, is covered in a way that engages students and helps them retain what they are learning. Discussion questions geared to tap into the students’ critical thinking follow every chapter. Topics include:

  • Invention and Promotion―Television’s Early Struggles
  • How Serious Programming began with Comedy
  • The Role of Television During Wartime
  • Prime Time Television's Golden Age
  • Civil Rights and Television
  • Long-Form Television
  • Television’s Symbiotic Relationship to Sports
  • The Birth and Growth of Cable Programming
  • Reality Programming

Students will also glean information about the impact of each decade’s culture on television and learn about the transition from black and white to color programming, deregulation, censorship, and the future of television in the new millennium.

The History of Prime Time Television includes fascinating information about the historical milestones that made television not just a form of entertainment, but a social mediator, a political force, and American's window into the human experience and condition. The book is ideal for courses in the areas of media history, entertainment history, and media communications.

George Lee Marshall earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree from San Diego State University. Working for the government after college, he went on to make educational and training films for the United States Navy. In 1983, he began writing for both television and feature films, selling over 50 screenplays, treatments, long-form teleplays, television episodes and pilots over the next twenty-five years, earning him lifetime member status in the Writers Guild of America. In 2000, he was asked by San Diego State University to develop and teach writing courses for their School of Theater, Television and Film. There, over the past 13 years, Lee has introduced curriculum and created courses for upper-division and graduate-level classes, including “The History of Prime Time Television.” Professor Marshall has worked with the Veteran's Administration at California State University, Long Beach to create and teach a 15-week real-time online storytelling course for returning veterans, while being twice recognized at SDSU as his department’s Outstanding Faculty. Professor Marshall currently lectures at the nationally acclaimed Dodge College of Film and Media Arts on the Chapman University Campus teaching TV history, business, and writing courses.

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