Former HBO exec Bridget Potter says she is at least partly responsible for that famous tagline, “It’s not TV. It’s HBO.” This was in response to a screening of HBO picture highlights for the cabler’s ad agency sometime in the 1980s. “That’s not TV,” the somewhat disturbed viewer said, which prompted the famous reply. Potter reviews the Brett Martin book, Difficult Men, for the Wall Street Journal, which traces the roots of our current golden age of television not just back to The Sopranos, but way back to Mary Tyler Moore Productions and the creative alumni who came from there, including Steven Bochco (Hill Street Blues) and Tom Fontana (Oz). It’s a terrific review from someone who was present at the creation—Potter, however, says the beginning of the age was not The Larry Sanders Show, as author Martin claims, but even further back to Tanner ’88.
The one issue I take with Potter is her reference to HBO’s Tales from the Crypt as “the sometimes grisly cult series.” Sometimes? Like when Kyle McLachlan gets his eye plucked out by a vulture? Or when an autopsy is performed on Tony Goldwyn but he is still alive?
Photo courtesy of Bjoertvedt