Saturday, November 03, 2007

McFarland New Releases

This month, McFarland continues to chart the worlds of film and television reference with an interesting assortment of books. You've got two treatises on superheroes, one focusing on Superman, and one looking at the nexus between superheroes and ancient gods. Then there's a study of Sopranos' creator David Chase. Even game show hosts get their due. Here's a look at the cinema/tv titles this month:

Television Game Show Hosts
This unique work profiles the private lives and careers of 32 American game show hosts, including the originals (e.g., Bill Cullen, Peter Marshall), the classics (e.g., Bob Barker), and the contemporaries (e.g., Regis Philbin). Organized alphabetically by host, each chapter begins with a personal profile including dates and places of birth, family information, and a complete career history. Immediately following is a detailed biography highlighting the most significant developments of each host’s early life and career, complete with successes, failures, and scandals. Frequently, the biography is accompanied by personal interviews with the host and/or his family and closest friends.






Considering David Chase
A compelling and innovative television writer, David Chase has created distinctive programs since the 1970s, each reflecting his edgy humor and psychological realism. These critical essays examine Chase’s television writings, placing particular emphasis on how his past works have shaped and influenced the current cultural phenomenon of HBO’s The Sopranos, and studying Chase’s use of identity, community, and place in defining his on-screen characters. Topics explored include Chase’s constructs of the urban L.A. environment in The Rockford Files, the portrayal of hybridized American archetypes in Northern Exposure, and the interpretation of sexual identity/masculinity in The Sopranos. An appendix containing complete episode guides for The Rockford Files, Northern Exposure, and The Sopranos is also included.






Politics and the American Television Comedy
This work examines the unique and ever-changing relationship between politics and comedy through an analysis of several popular American television programs. Focusing on close readings of the work of Ernie Kovacs, Soupy Sales, and Andy Kaufman, as well as Green Acres and The Gong Show, the author provides a unique glimpse at the often subversive nature of avant-garde television comedy. The crisis in American television during the political unrest of the late 1960s is also studied, as represented by individual analyses of The Monkees, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, and All in the Family. The author also focuses on more contemporary American television, drawing a comparative analysis between the referential postmodernism of The Simpsons and the confrontational absurdity of South Park.



Superheroes and Gods

The work provides a unique study of superheroes and gods in literature, popular culture, and ancient myth. The author selects a number of mythological figures (e.g., Babylonia’s Gilgamesh and Enkidu), ancient gods (e.g., Greece’s Eros and Tartarus), and modern superheroes (e.g., the United States’ Superman and Captain Marvel) and identifies the often striking similarities between each unique category of characters. The author contends that the vast majority of mythological superheroes follow the same archetypal character patterns, regardless of each hero’s unique time period or culture. Each of the first nine chapters examines the heroes and gods of a particular region or country, while the final chapter examines modern descendants of the hero prototype like Batman and Spiderman and several infamous anti-heroes (for example, Dracula and The Hulk).



First introduced in a 1938 comic book, Superman has since become an iconic character in American entertainment. This complete history covers Superman’s appearances in film and television, from the 1941 introduction of the first Superman cartoon to the 2006 live-action film Superman Returns. The book includes several rarely seen photographs of the actors who have brought Superman to life for over seven decades, including Clayton “Bud” Collyer, Kirk Alyn, George Reeves and Christopher Reeve. Multiple appendices provide a complete listing of Superman-related books and websites, along with a comprehensive list of the cast and characters featured in Superman films, television shows, and radio programs since 1941.

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