Modern Mr. Television Dead at 83

I was almost unaccountably sad to read of the passing of television producer Aaron Spelling. Actually, to call him a "television producer" seems like a mad understatement. Over the course of his career, Spelling produced over 3000 television shows. (You read that right: three-zero-zero-zero.) Here's a very partial list: The Mod Squad, Starsky and Hutch, Charlie's Angels, The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Dynasty, Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place and Summerland. Others, too. It's safe to say that anyone who spent any time at all watching television during the last 30 or so years will have watched something Spelling touched.

You can see that, even from this partial list, Spelling received financial rewards for his work, but not a whole lot of critical acclaim.
The Statesboro Herald says:
"The knocks by the critics bother you," he admitted in a 1986 interview with The Associated Press. "But you have a choice of proving yourself to 300 critics or 30 million fans. You have to make a choice. I think you're also categorized by the critics. If you do something good they almost don't want to like it."

I like this image, again from the Herald's obit:
Throughout his career, Spelling maintained the same image: the skinny frame, slightly hawkish face. He usually posed with a pipe in his mouth, a custom he adopted early after seeing stars with pipes in fan magazine photos.
With Spelling gone, will television get to be more worthwhile? Probably not. But it's difficult to imagine the medium once again reaching for the same level of cheerfully unselfconsciousous shlock without him.


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