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The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  2,858 ratings  ·  376 reviews
A mob boss in therapy. An experimental, violent prison unit. The death of an American city, as seen through a complex police investigation. A lawless frontier town trying to talk its way into the United States. A corrupt cop who rules his precinct like a warlord. The survivors of a plane crash trying to make sense of their disturbing new island home. A high school girl by ...more
Kindle Edition, 398 pages
Published November 9th 2012 by (first published 2012)
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Cristobal No. It reveals a few plot points to show the greatness of the shows but it does not focus on plot or story lines. The one exception to this is St.…moreNo. It reveals a few plot points to show the greatness of the shows but it does not focus on plot or story lines. The one exception to this is St. Elsewhere, where it does reveal the ending shocker.(less)
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Last week I was reading the chapter about The Sopranos in which the author highly praises James Gandolfini’s performance as Tony. The next day, Galdolfini died. That’s one of those odd coincidences that I could live without.

TV critic Alan Sepinwall writes the popular HitFix blog What's Alan Watching? and here he takes a look at a dozen shows that revolutionized television since the late ‘90s. Oz, The Sopranos, The Wire, Deadwood, The Shield, Lost, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 24, Battlestar Galacti
mark monday
in his prologue, Sepinwall discusses antecedents to the more modern shows that have created the most recent Golden Age of Television - the third or fourth such age, I think. the author points out how the foundation for such things as the season-long storyline, dark and ambiguous characterization, creative forms of storytelling, and narratives that exist to challenge rather than to provide comfort were present in such landmark shows as Hill Street Blues, St. Elsewhere, and Twin Peaks. (view spoil ...more
Diane Librarian
This is an excellent analysis of twelve shows that ushered in the new golden age of television that we are currently enjoying.

I've been reading Alan Sepinwall's columns for several years and was thrilled he'd written a book about some of my favorite TV shows, including The Wire, The Sopranos, Deadwood, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Mad Men, Lost, Battlestar Galactica and Friday Night Lights. Other shows discussed in the book are Oz, The Shield, 24 and Breaking Bad, in addition to a prologue that li
Doug Cutchins
Two of my favorite online writers and podcasters are Linda Holmes and Bill Simmons, so when both endorsed Sepinwall's new book, I knew I needed to read it. I've watched exactly half of the 12 shows that he surveys in this excellent book, so it was an exercise in both reviewing familiar territory and exploring new lands that I had not yet ventured into.

The book is excellent. Sepinwall somehow provides more or less then same information about each show (concept, writing, pitching, casting, pilot,
I love reading (and writing) about good television, and thoroughly enjoyed Alan Sepinwall's doing the same. One of the best things I can say about these essays--one for each show he focuses on--is that I wanted pretty much all of them to be longer. I learned a lot about how each show came to be on and off the air (though of course there are conflicting accounts depending on who you ask in many cases). It confirms the vague impression I've had of current TV that the reason so many amazing shows g ...more
"The Revolution Was Televised" is mostly useful as a collection of parsed interviews that the author conducted with the creators/writers/producers of the various shows lionized therein, including, but not limited to: The Wire, Deadwood , Lost, Battlestar Galactica , Mad Men , and above all else (in the author's mind, at least) The Sopranos .

This book's failings are not just due to Sepinwall's home-town cheerleading for The Sopranos (a show with two pretty good seasons and four average
It's a remarkable coincidence that the theme of the television shows Alan Sepinwall chooses to write about for his book is: right people, right place, right time. Sepinwall himself, widely considered one of the best TV critics out there (his reviews are a must-read for me and I'm not in the minority here), certainly lucked out to be at the right place (writing for the NJ Star-Ledger and internet boards just as the net was blowing up) at the right time (the golden age of television). Thus, he is ...more
There is a scene in the show Portlandia when the main characters decide to kill some time before a dinner party by watching the pilot episode of Battlestar Galactica, one of the shows Alan Sepinwall covers in this book.

Twenty four hours later, we find the characters still sitting on the couch, unshowered, having missed the dinner party, wondering to each other if they should move or just continue watching the show.

As somebody who has never watched an episode of Battlestar Galactica, I wondered a
John Cooper
For several years, Alan Sepinwall's blog, first at the New Jersey Star Ledger and then at, has been the site I visit right after watching an intense episode of my favorite serial drama. Sepinwall practically invented the practice of reviewing individual episodes of a TV series, an invaluable service in an era when television shows pack a level of depth and ambiguity that only movies used to have. In this book, he visits a dozen series that expanded how television approaches the storyt ...more
A solid, largely interesting look at the context and impact of a handful of shows I respect (The Wire, Deadwood, The Sopranos, Battlestar Galactica), a handful of shows I like well enough (Friday Night Lights, Breaking Bad, 24), a handful of shows that, for whatever reasons, rank somewhere on the scale of dislike to indifference (Mad Men, Lost, Buffy), one show of which I had no prior knowledge (Oz), and one show I love heart and soul (The Shield).

Not that it’s 1-for-12 though. (Or 4-for-12, or
I gave this 4 stars because I've been reading Sepinwall's insightful reviews for years and I'm glad he decided to write a book. I especially liked the chapter on Mad Men, although I didn't learn much new since I'm such a big fan. I haven't watched all the shows he writes about but I'm thinking of getting Friday Night Lights on DVD now that I know more about it. I also really liked the chapter on The Sopranos (one of my all time favorite shows) and Sepinwall's analysis of the controversial ending ...more
Alan Sepinwall is my favourite TV critic and his book about the 12 most influential drama series of the current era feels like it was written just for me. I thought I knew most of these shows inside out already but Sepinwall's interviews with the creators on the development process was fascinating, teaching me things I don't think I would be able to find anywhere else. If you are a fan of any of the shows discussed within, this is a must read.
This is a book that does exactly what it promises to do: Sepinwall devotes a chapter apiece to some of the innovative dramas that changed the way that television engaged with the public in the new millenium. Each chapter works as a standalone piece - if you just want Sepinwall's take on Buffy or Breaking Bad, you don't have to read the rest of the book - but certain themes do develop in the course of the book. The Shield brought a complex antihero to cable networks, but only after HBO blazed a t ...more
I purchased this e-book from Amazon after hearing good comments about it on the NPR podcast
and I am glad I did.

This book covers the creation, development, and execution of several of the seminal television series of the last 8 years. The stories are fascinating and they give the reader a better idea of how the television production business is so often based on luck.

The book covers different network and cable shows from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Lost and 24
At the end of April, I took a joyous vacation to the Big Island of Hawaii with my family. After 9 days of golf, snorkeling, Mai Tais and a dangerous lack of consonant variety, we were congratulating ourselves for going the whole trip without once turning on the TV. We reveled in our collective sophistication and sense of adventure...then I paused, and went back to reading my book about television.

Alan Sepinwall is a TV critic whose articles I have read and enjoyed for years and The Revolution of
Apr 23, 2013 Bjorn rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: usa
Alan Sepinwall started out as a TV critic back in the mid-90s, when most people still couldn't conceive that there was anything on TV you could write enough about to earn the title "critic". Then came the new wave of US TV drama in the late 90s and throughout the 00s, with shows that tried to use the medium to tell stories that no other medium could; complex, ambitious, character-driven, taking months or even years to unfold and add to themsleves, tackling real-life issues from the personal to t ...more
Alan Sepinwall's thesis in The Revolution was Televised - that a collection of tv shows in the past 15 years represent a sea change in the medium - is hardly groundbreaking. The excitement generated by many of the shows Sepinwall deals with has been widely lauded - and more of less everywhere you hear the TV commentariat proclaiming that TV is (capable of) displacing film and literature as the grown up, serious medium for the masses. (*in fact it might have been interesting if Sepinwall had purs ...more
Warning: If you don't want to be spoiled, don't read this book.

Advice: If you haven't watched the shows he writes about, you're missing out.

It's been years since I watched Oz, The Sopranos, Buffy, and Deadwood. Reading the book made me want to watch them again, and this time, I'll have a better appreciation for what the creators were trying to do.

The book is full of insider information, not just about the shows but about how television gets made.

Highly recommended.

Gerri Leen
I have never loved a book that I read so little of. Let me explain. This is a wonderful book that looks into the shift of television over the years and the shows that contributed to that. The author starts the story basically with Oz, which I have not seen but fortunately have no desire to see because this is a deep dive into the shows and it's full of spoilers. If you're not spoiler phobic, read all the chapters. But for my part, I am allergic to spoilers, so I skipped the chapters on The Wire, ...more
A really interesting read for any moderate-to-hardcore television fan, especially from the last couple of decades, this book does a concise but thorough job of outlining the history, inspiration, and production process of 12 of the most critically-acclaimed shows of the newest golden age in television, including:

The Sopranos
The Wire
The Shield
Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Battlestar Galactica
Friday Night Lights
Mad Men
Breaking Bad.

As a devoted fan of about half these, someone who's seen
Doug Stotland
Growing up I watched TV but I knew it was a waste of time. 10-15 years ago TV became awesome and in many cases I felt a better use of time than watching movies or reading books. Heresy, but something I believe will be widely accepted 50 years from now (I have lots of opinions on what people will think in +50 years). This book is essentially the history of how TV became awesome and if you're one of those people that others make fun of because you talk about The Wire, The Sopranos, Mad Men, FNL, e ...more
Doug Arbesfeld
Sepinwall proves that TV is not the "vast wasteland" that some elitist snob once called it (actually, it never was), he also disproves someone who once sang "57 channels and nothing on." His premise is that there is a new golden age of TV drama and he delves into the origins of 12 shows that date from 1997 (Buffy) to right now (Mad Men, Breaking Bad). He does a good job proving it. Some of the shows he profiles are among my favorites (The Wire, Buffy, Sopranos, Mad Men, Breaking Bad) and he's go ...more
An enjoyable read with lots of interesting tidbits which all readers of Alan's blog should enjoy. Alan's access to the showrunners and executives behind all these great shows provides a lot of insight into the story behind the stories and how most of them almost didn't happen. I appreciate that Alan kept his blog habit of using asterisks for asides, rather than footnotes, as I read this in an electronic format that is not very footnote friendly. The chapters do have a tendency to ramble around. ...more
A fun, quick read featuring some of my all-time favorite shows and why they are part of the latest revolution in TV. (Note that I skipped the sections on Deadwood and The Shield, the only two series in here I haven't yet seen -- I want to and it's worth noting that each section is unashamed of featuring SPOILERS about the show in question.)

If you are a fan of The Sopranos, Friday Night Lights, Lost, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Wire, Battlestar Galactica, Mad Men, Breaking Bad ... I mean, who i
Aug 08, 2013 Cathie rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone who likes tv and the new evoltution of it
3.5 stars.

Nice look at why shows like The Sopranos, 24, Lost, Oz, Mad Men, Friday Night Lights, Breaking Bad, The Shield, and a few others paved the way to what we now expect from TV viewing and how ground breaking they really were. Nice inside information as to what the producers, execs, etc. thought when first presented with these scripts and the process it took (sometimes years) to get them to air.

These shows were truly revolutionary in that they changed our perceptions of the good guy, the
I love reading Alan's column so when I heard he'd written a book, I knew it was a must-read for me. It did not disappoint. He went through the origin stories of a number of the dramas that changed television in recent years. I watched a number of them but not all - Alan is able to write all about them in an interesting way so that even if you did not watch Oz, you'll appreciate all of the work that went into the show and the unique way that it all came together. He inspired me to finally start w ...more
This was a very enjoyable book and a truly entertaining read. But I think, for me, it was more of a trip down memory lane than anything else. It was great to revisit some of my all-time favorite shows (Buffy, Lost, FNL), and after almost every chapter I thought, "I need to re-watch all of ______ right now!" But I'm not sure the central thesis of the book stayed alive throughout. While most of these shows were lasting, revolutionary shows (and as much as I love it, Deadwood doesn't belong here), ...more
I didn't read all of this book, only the chapters covering the shows I had watched.

Overall, I found it quite enjoyable. There are a lot of great stories and details about the creation/evolution of these shows. If you are a die-hard fan of a particular show, there may not be a lot of new material here (I found the Mad Men and Buffy chapters a trifle thin, but those seem to be the only chapters where the author was unable to obtain new interviews with the head creatives. Damn you Weiner and Whedo
This was awesome, and I loved it, and anyone who likes TV should read it. The concept is that these are the stories of The Shows That Changed Everything. He covers The Sopranos, Oz, The Wire, Deadwood, The Shield, Lost, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 24, Battlestar Galactica, Friday Night Lights, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad. Very funny and insightful interviews, analyses, and histories of how the shows were made, how they were received, and what it all means for Television.

Also, oh man, I love many of
First of a little note, that I haven't finished this book just yet. Since I've not seen neither Oz, The Sopranos, Buffy, Galactica in its entirty nor Deadwood (This Review starts really rough, woah :'-(), I decided to not touch those specific chapters.

Reading The Revolution Is Televised by Alan Sepinwall feels like moving in a very familiar space that I feel comfortable with and can relate to - and this made it a pure joy to read the chapters on such classic shows as 24, LOST, The Wire or Frida
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Alan Sepinwall has been writing about television for close to 20 years, first as an online reviewer of "NYPD Blue," then as a TV critic for The Star-Ledger (Tony Soprano's hometown paper), now as author of the popular blog What's Alan Watching? on Sepinwall's episode-by-episode approach to reviewing his favorite TV shows "changed the nature of television criticism," according to Slate, ...more
More about Alan Sepinwall...
Stop Being a Hater and Learn to Love the O.C. All Due Respect . . . The Sopranos Changes Everything: A Chapter From The Revolution Was Televised by Alan Sepinwall Die Revolution war im Fernsehen: Essay zu den Fernsehserien Sopranos, Mad Men, 24, Lost, Breaking Bad, The Wire, Deadwood, Buffy, The Shield, Battlestar Galactica u.v.m. Die Revolution war im Fernsehen: Essay Essay zu den Fernsehserien Sopranos, Mad Men, 24, Lost, Breaking Bad, The Wire, Deadwood, Buffy, The Shield, Battlestar Galactica u.v.m.

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“We’d been going home with television every night for years, but suddenly we had reason to respect it in the morning.” 4 likes
“Once upon a time, mystery fans had to solve puzzles on their own; now, you not only didn’t need to be the one to solve it, you didn’t even need to be hanging around on the website where someone else had solved it. An Ana Lucia flashback episode in the second season showed Jack’s father, Christian, visiting a blonde Australian woman. Not long after it aired, I saw someone on the Television Without Pity message boards passing along a theory they had read on a different site suggesting that this woman was Claire’s mother, that Christian was her father, and that Jack and Claire were unwitting half-siblings. I hadn’t connected those dots myself, but the theory immediately made sense to me. When I interviewed Cuse that summer, he mentioned Christian Shephard, and I said, “And he’s Claire’s father, too, right?” Cuse looked like he was about to have a heart attack.” 4 likes
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