Monday, April 25, 2005

Links

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 ( www.google.com ) . 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 ( www.tvtome.com ), 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 ( www.imdb.com ), 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 www.amazon.com and www.moviesunlimited.com. You can also find plenty of information at www.tvshowsondvd.com.
Since some of the questions involve obscure titles, I may check www.robertsvideos.com , www.rarevideo.com , www.inetvideo.com and that mighty online garage sale, www.ebay.com .
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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