Monday, April 25, 2005


As my mailbag columns demonstrate, a lot of you have questions about television. I answer them when I can, and then hear from people wondering how I got the answers.
Sometimes I get them by calling or e-mailing networks, advertising agencies, product makers and other sources, or by researching in my home library of books on TV. Sometimes I do online searches via Google ( ) . But there are also some standard references I draw on which you might findf useful.
When it comes to TV series, there are two books that you should have handy: "Total Television" by Alex McNeil and "The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946-Present" by Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh. Brooks & Marsh, as it's known to TV critics, is in its eighth edition, which goes into 2003. The advantage to "Total Television" is that it also includes daytime shows; the disadvantage is that its most recent edition, the fourth, came out almost 10 years ago.
I also draw on online sources. One is TV Tome ( ), a very detailed Web site about television shows; it's the sort of place where you can find a list of songs played in a specific episode of "ER." Another is the Internet Movie Database ( ), which also includes reports on TV shows, as well as TV movies.
Both sites also include information about whether shows are available on video. When asked about video releases, I often check first at and You can also find plenty of information at
Since some of the questions involve obscure titles, I may check , , and that mighty online garage sale, .
Now, when it comes to something like eBay, the titles being sold may not be commercial releases but something a fan dubbed off the air. Regular readers of the mailbag will recall that I'll say that I have found a title on video but can't vouch for the source or the quality of it; that means that the title may not be a commercial release. But, as I know from fans, some folks are happy just to have a copy of a show, no matter what the quality.


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