BOOK REVIEW: SHOWRUNNERS: THE ART OF RUNNING A TV SHOW / AUTHOR: TARA BENNETT /PUBLISHER: TITAN BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Showrunners is a companion to and expansion of a documentary you won't have seen (and after reading this book, you probably don't need to) and endeavours to show you the rarely explored side of one of television's toughest jobs. And it does do this. It's just a shame the book itself isn't as good.
Though the book will no doubt go down in history as a must-have book full of useful insight for film and television students, we can't help but be a little bit disappointed that the book does not go far beyond the scope of the documentary. It would have been nice to see Bennett interview a few more people for the book to show how the profession has changed since the days of Larson or Bellisario (or even how we do these things over the pond), or update the content to reflect that some time has passed since the interviews were filmed for the documentary. In particular, it's jarring to see House referred to in the present tense several times. This suggests that the book was a bit of a rush job.
However, if we judge it on what it is, rather than what it could have been, we come away with a rather more positive feeling about the book. When it comes down to it, the product that's actually on the shelves in your local bookshop is easily digestible, contains genuinely useful information about the craft of television production and has funny anecdotes about a profession that is closed to so many people. It's also useful if you want to focus primarily on writing, as it has sections that talk specifically about writing for television, as well as providing a useful list of resources for the budding writer at the end of the book. If you need any book to teach you how to do a job that most people will probably never have, make it this one.