to graft traditional auteurist methodologies onto television. Because Stephen J. Cannell is powerful and prolific, he makes a useful organizing principle around which to study a large body of television programs. The goal of this approach is more taxonomical than theoretical. It is not an attempt, like Sarris's was, to continue to propagate the notion of "one work, one artist" but rather a means of beginning to sort out the largely unclassified medium of commercial television.
In spite of its swarms of creative and constraining personnel, even American television has some individuals working in it who, because of the organizational power they possess, fall into what Sarris might call the television "pantheon." They hire, pay, and control a body of people who turn out programs that reflect some internal consistency. While I recognize that every television program I examine in the following pages came about as a result of the efforts of a large group of people and institutions, I also recognize the fact that someone has to be held accountable for it. Just as writing in the passive verb tense can tend to relieve anyone of responsibility for the statements being made ("It has been decided that your services will no longer be needed by our company"), completely abandoning the concept of authorship will always reduce us to complaining about "television" and not about the people who make it. When young children were killed during the filming of the motion picture The Twilight Zone, the court needed someone to try and in doing so became an auteurist in choosing to summon director John Landis.
From Bob Shanks, The Cool Fire ( New York: Vintage Books, 1977), p. 21.
In the category above-the-line will be found those jobs and services which are creative. The people in this group are usually called the staff. Below-the-line takes in those tasks and services that are technical or relate to hardware. People working below-the-line are referred to as the crew.