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TV Encyclopedia is a Must for Fans
by Jim Longworth

Encyclopedia of Television ShowsI first became aware of Vincent Terrace in 1979 when I purchased a copy of “The Complete Encyclopedia of Television Programming”. That one volume work was groundbreaking because it gave those of us in the industry our first ready-reference to both prime time and day time shows. Now, thirty years later, Mr. Terrace has given scholars and fans alike a most marvelous update in his “Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2007”.

Published in four volumes by McFarland and Company of Jefferson, North Carolina, “Encyclopedia of Television Shows” includes over nine thousand entries, complete with synopsis and cast credits. The encyclopedia also features a 150 page index which is a valuable tool for cross checking actors names and show titles. And because it is published in four volumes, the entries are quite accessible. Unlike the unwieldy, small font single volume “Complete Directory of Prime Time, Network and Cable TV Shows” (Brooks and Marsh), Terrace’s volumes are easy to handle and easy to read.

Of course, as with any masterpiece, there are flaws. First, the author is inconsistent with the amount of space devoted to each synopsis. For example, he drones on about every detail of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, then shortchanges Dallas which had a much longer run, and had a much larger following.

Second, Terrace only occasionally lists the exact dates of each program’s premiere broadcast. Absent that information, we have no way of knowing whether a program was on the Fall schedule, or if it was a mid season replacement. Such data is easily available through various inter net sources, and I am surprised that Mr. Terrace didn’t go the extra mile to include it as he had with his 1979 encyclopedia. This is where the Brooks and Marsh book has the edge, not just in listing first and last broadcasts dates, but also including the day of the week and the time slots for each entry. Again, Terrace could have shortened some of his synopsis in order to accommodate the air date information.

Despite these flaws, however, “Encyclopedia of Television Shows” is a rare gem worth possessing, and a fine addition to any library. And, on a personal note, Mr. Terrace’s book will also play an important role in keeping the peace in my home. That’s because not a week goes by that either my father-in-law or mother-in-law doesn’t call to ask (and argue) about what actor played on which TV program. Now I can use “Encyclopedia of Television Shows” as my ally, or perhaps I’ll just purchase my in-laws their own set. At $145.oo, any book that can promote family harmony is a bargain.

“Encyclopedia of Television Shows 1925-2007” can be purchased directly from McFarland via the company’s website (, or by calling
1-800 253-2187.

Other McFarland books by Vincent Terrace include:
“Encyclopedia of Television Subjects, Themes and Settings”;
“Television Character and Story Facts”;
“Crime Fighting Heroes of Television”, and many others.

(Jim Longworth is a television talk show host and newspaper columnist. He is the author of TV Creators, volumes One and Two, and is a member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, for whom he serves as a judge for the prime time EMMYs, and also produces and moderates special events.


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