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Classic Gill, but...
Anybody who regularly reads Gill's TV reviews in the Sunday Times Culture section will know exactly what to expect here - fantastically perceptive, witty, sometimes slightly OTT, mini-essays on the past decade's programmes. I cannot rate him highly enough as a writer - but then, as a watch-much-more-than-I-should TV viewer, I'm a big fan of this type of thing. I also love the brilliant Picador collections of Clive James' old Observer TV reviews, and this is in a very similar vein. So, five shining stars for the quality of the written content.
My reservations are twofold:
First, they've played around with the format, splitting the reviews into themes (i.e. cop shows, kids' shows, etc) and I just would have liked the original articles in chronological order, giving me the feel of progressing through the years/memories. Here, a show from the mid-nineties can be right next to something broadcast just a year or two ago. I can't think why they did this (it makes it easier to...
Description : AA Gill has been the must-read television critic in the Sunday Times 'Culture' section for more than ten years. This collection of some of the best writing from his columns is broken down into themes - Sport, Costume Drama, Detectives, Children's Television, and News. And now it's over to AA Gill..."Those who complain, usually from the Parnassian heights of print journalism, that TV is dumbed-down and peddles dross to the lowest common denominator, citing Big Brother or Celibate Love Island, miss the point. Reality TV is the exception; it's a tiny proportion of television's output. Most of broadcasting tells you things, and it's TV's great gift to impart information. The real criticism should be that it doesn't differentiate enough. It doesn't know the value of the stuff it pours out in a constant warm stream. We absorb what's useful and interesting. In barely a generation, the information from television has changed the way we see the world and everyone in it. That's no small achievement. Television really does make a difference. There are obvious individual examples: 'Cathy Come Home'; the newsreel of the Vietnam war in America; the Ethiopian famine. And television has utterly changed sport. Do you imagine there'd be anything like this fuss over an Olympics bid if it was only going to be shown on Pathe newsreel? Charities and pressure groups, from pillar-box conservation to animal welfare and cancer research, glean power and funds from tiny exposures on the box. It can bring down walls, save lives and right wrongs. It can also tell you how to put a water feature on your patio..."