The Pequod Review:
Published in 1983, Inside Prime Time is an intelligent but dated institutional study of the American prime-time television industry. Gitlin interviewed over 200 people who work in various behind-the-scenes roles — executives, producers, writers, agents, actors, advertisers, political activists, etc. — and he uses a handful of case studies (M*A*S*H, Hill Street Blues, All in the Family, etc.) to illustrate the production process from beginning to end. What emerges most vividly are the economic, social and political pressures that influence script and production decisions. These pressures go a long way toward explaining why the proliferation of cable channels in the 1980s and 1990s didn't fundamentally change the essentially safe and bland nature of most television programs.