Academic journal article Journalism History

Rules of the Game

Academic journal article Journalism History

Rules of the Game

Article excerpt

Hoerschelmann, Olaf. Rules of the Game. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2006. 208 pp. $24.95.

In Rules of the Game, Olaf Hoerschelmann addresses a seldom-debated yet certainly viable question: Why do scholars treat with "disdain and dismissal" the quiz shows that have appeared on radio and TV? Surely, this is not because these programs are less prosaic than the sitcoms, soap operas, and reality delights that have abounded as subjects in scholarly studies. The problem, he maintains, is an absence of a critical foundation that would inspire "researchers to take quiz shows seriously." In a book that is too concise and too drenched in simplistic history, the pleasing result is an effective boost of quiz shows as a more serious than trivial pursuit.

Hoerschelmann, an assistant professor of media theory and criticism at Eastern Illinois University, seeks to explain a "variety of forms of knowledge" for which quiz shows "become a valuable tool." While history is neither the author's specialty nor objective, a history is what unfolds. Each decade of quiz shows grounds a new theoretical conclusion. Early radio quiz shows beat a "heart line to America," and television and the quiz show scandals brought a remodeling of the genre. While cable TV and interactive media promised enlarged horizons, a seeming achievement, the twenty-four hour Game Show Network was a compendium of reruns that did not create greater quiz show diversity.

The book contains only seven chapters. While six of them reflect and relive quiz show classics, from Major Bowes to "The Price is Right," the exception is the part that covers the 1980-90 period. …

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