DAVID BIANCULLI

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The Encyclopedia Shatnerica
January 1, 2011  | By Diane Werts
 

Robert Schnakenberg
Quirk Books, $16.95

Really and truly, the last thing William Shatner needs is more attention.

TV, movies, books, video games, commercials, self-serving web site -- the man is more all over the place than James T. Kirk.

But if you're wondering what the T stands for -- and shouldn't we all know by now? -- you'll find it in The Encyclopedia Shatnerica, an old fave by Robert Schnakenberg just revised and updated in a paperback Millennium Edition.

The first edition came out in 1998, and the Shat-man has done oh-so-much since we wrote him off back then -- Boston Legal, Emmy wins, Priceline ads, that gonzo Has Been CD. (Is or is not his delivery of Common People worth incessant "repeat" play?) I hadn't even realized he'd auctioned off his own kidney stone online (for charity). But, hey, that's what we pay Schnakenberg the (semi-) big bucks to fill a book with.

He's even included photos and scattered info boxes collecting oddities like "Shatner's World of Pain," listing the ways the Shat's characters have been offed on-screen. My fave: "Crucified by Ernest Borgnine in The Devil's Rain." (Although that Kingdom of the Spiders web was pretty cool, too.)

I'm not crazy about the book's jumbo sans-serif type and wide-spaced lines -- that seems like the kind of pretty-for-its-own-sake layout that design "consultants" get paid to concoct, lest they concern themselves with, oh, readability.

But Schnakenberg's info/quotes/trivia work is first rate. He endures everything Shatner does, to report back to us, so we don't have to. Would you wanna research an entry titled "Horse Semen"?

Buy it now

 
 
 
 
 
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Good news, TVWW readers: David’s new book from Doubleday, The Platinum Age of Television: From I Love Lucy to The Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific is available on Amazon for $20.

Doubleday says: “Darwin had his theory of evolution, and David Bianculli has his. Bianculli's theory has to do with the concept of quality television: what it is and, crucially, how it got that way."

"The Platinum Age of Television is an effusive guidebook that plots the path from the 1950s’ Golden Age to today’s era of quality TV. For instance, animation evolved from Rocky and His Friends to South Park; variety shows moved from The Ed Sullivan Show to Saturday Night Live; and family sitcoms grew from I Love Lucy to Modern Family. A high point is the author’s interviews with Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Norman Lear, Bob Newhart, Matt Groening, Larry David, Amy Schumer and many others...Bianculli has written a highly readable history." —The Washington Post