Books: Play All : A Bingewatcher’s Notebook |
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Play All — A Bingewatcher’s Notebook

US Hardback 2016, Yale University Press
ISBN 978-0-300-21809-1
US Paperback 2017, Yale University Press
ISBN 978-0-300-22970-7

To Prue, Lucinda, and Claerwen

And to Farran Nehme, Alice Gregory, and Meghan O’Rourke

And to Marina Hyde, Hadley Freeman, Catherine Shoard, and Zoe Williams

And to Simon Schama and Jonathan Meades

And to James Gandolfini and Philip French

And to Jonny Grove, Maia Grove, and Benjamin Beresford

And to Steven Bochco, Carl Reiner, Richard Benjamin, and Peter Bogdanovich

Und doch darf ich nicht klagen. Es tut so wohl noch einmal Ja zu sagen.
And yet I mustn’t complain. It’s so good to say “Yes” for once.

Jacket Blurb

“Clive James on Game of Thrones: delectable, utterly brilliant, and, in that hackneyed phrase, a must-read.”
Nigella Lawson

Play All is brilliant, comic nourishment. James has never written better or with so much mischief and élan. His observations—withering and celebratory—are bracingly intelligent and written in so accessible and winning a voice.”
David Thomson, author of A Biographical Dictionary of Film, Television: A Biography, and Why Acting Matters

A world-renowned media and cultural critic offers an insightful analysis of serial TV drama and the modern art of the small screen.

Television and TV viewing are not what they once were—and that's a good thing, according to award-winning author and critic Clive James. Since serving as television columnist for the London Observer from 1972 to 1982, James has witnessed a radical change in content, format, and programming, and in the very manner in which TV is watched. Here he examines this unique cultural revolution, providing a brilliant, eminently entertaining analysis of many of the medium’s most notable twenty-first-century accomplishments and their not always subtle impact on modern society—including such acclaimed serial dramas as Breaking Bad, The West Wing, Mad Men, and The Sopranos, as well as the comedy 30 Rock. With intelligence and wit, James explores a television landscape expanded by cable and broadband and profoundly altered by the advent of Netflix, Amazon, and other “cord-cutting” platforms that have helped to usher in a golden age of unabashed binge-watching.

A Conversation with CLIVE JAMES:

In the early 1970s, you more or less invented serious (if incredibly clever and funny) criticism of television. What accounts for our current golden age of TV drama?

The golden age of long-form television has probably happened because somebody proved it was possible and everyone else piled in. Let's hope it’s a great new city, but it could be the Klondike.

Is binge-watching especially enjoyable with others?

Binge-watching is only possible with others. Try it on your own and you’ll end up talking to yourself: “Josh, Josh, you schmuck! Donna is telling you she loves you!”

What actor in the history of the movies would you most like to see do a turn in a small-screen serial drama?

Watch Carole Lombard and John Barrymore in Twentieth Century and you’ll immediately realize that what these two need is about fifty more episodes. If Janice Rule could be here now to star in The Good Wife’s Best Friend, she would be the most famous actor in the world.

CLIVE JAMES is an Australian memoirist, poet, translator, critic, and broadcaster, who has written more than thirty books of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, including, for Yale University Press, Latest Readings.