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In 2013, US Ambassador Jeffrey Bleich asked Australians to stop pirating Game of Thrones. A single episode of HBO’s gritty fantasy drama had been illegally downloaded over four million times, equalling the legitimate viewership of the program. ‘As the Ambassador here in Australia,’ Mr Bleich wrote, ‘it was especially troubling to find out that Austral ...

In the world of Australian popular entertainment, few personalities are more prominent than Bert Newton. Since the 1950s he has been a presence on radio and television, as announcer, talk show host, compère, interviewer, and musical comedy star. Love him or loathe him, ‘Old Moonface’ has impressed as much for his ability to survive the ups and downs of showbiz politics as for his body of work. Whatever fate has thrown at him, he has risen, phoenix-like, from the ashes until the expiration of his Channel Nine contract earlier this year. Graeme Blundell’s biography attempts to reveal the man behind the flashing smile and famously quick wit. He draws on news reports, personal interviews with Newton’s colleagues and friends, as well as extracts from articles and television programs, to build a composite picture of a media celebrity.

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When we look back at the major cultural achievements of the early twenty-first century, The Sopranos (1999–2004) will surely prowl, thuggish, at the top of the list. Created by David Chase, the HBO drama tells the story of Tony Soprano, a New Jersey mob boss who tries to balance the violent demands of his professional life with a more quotidian existence as a father and husband in the suburbs. Tony’s treatment for panic attacks by the psychiatrist Dr Jennifer Melfi is central to the six seasons. Self-described as a ‘fat fuckin crook from New Jersey’, Tony Soprano is more than that: a multi-layered, deeply flawed, always fascinating creature of millennial capitalist America.

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Mad Men: Dream Come True TV edited by Gary R. Edgerton

April 2011, no. 330

In the last decade, several television shows have received acclaim by being likened to a great novel. The Wire has often been compared with Dickens, several critics have made a case for ER as a contemporary Middlemarch, and now Mad Men is being praised for its version of a Richard Yates protagonist. Its leading man, Don Draper, is a character straight out of Yates: a 1960s adman with reserves of mystique and despair.

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In the mid twentieth century, American television was dominated by two talking horses called Mr Ed. The first, the equine hero of a sitcom also called Mr Ed (catchier than his real name, Bamboo Harvester), twisted his mouth more or less in sync with a dubbed basso profondo voice. He had lots to say, mostly preceded by an often disdainful reference to his hapless owner, Wilbur, the only person Mr Ed talked to, whose name came out as ‘Will-BURRRRRRR!’. This mildly popular series ran for six seasons.

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Brides of Christ, Episode 3 by John Alsop and Sue Smith & The Drought by Tom Petsinis

May 1995, no. 170

As most would know, Brides of Christ was an enormously successful mini-series recently co­produced by the ABC, Channel 4/UK, and RTE/Ireland. UQP have responded to its popularity with the publication of this slim book aimed, primarily, at the education market.

Rather than inundating a potential readership with a set of six one episode volumes or, presumably, the one mega volume, the publishers have decided to provide a representative release containing the screenplay of one episode – three, Ambrose – which the writers considered to be the most likely to translate effectively onto the page. The result is a quick enjoyable read which, although unlikely to lay siege to any bestseller’s list, would certainly prove a flavoursome and challenging text for study.

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When Four Corners began on ABC television in 1961 there was little to break what Humphrey McQueen, following Manning Clark, has called the ‘Great Australian Silence’. True, the Sydney fortnightly magazine Nation had started in 1958; but there was little else to offer a toughminded or oppositional outlook on the orthodoxies and consensus that was Australia. So Four Corners was badly needed. In turn it and Nation were joined by others: Oz magazine and the televised Mavis Bramston Show in 1963; The Australian in 1964 and This Day Tonight.

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