Pioneering TV Reviewer Dead at 88

Jun 6, 2014  •  Post A Comment

A television critic who changed how newspapers review programs has died. The New York Times reports that Steven H. Scheuer died Saturday at 88 of complications from congestive heart failure.

Scheuer was a “a prolific author, a talk-show producer and host, a newspaper columnist and a seemingly omniscient historian of television,” the piece notes. He was working at CBS as an assistant director in the early 1950s when he had an insight.

“In the middle of the night I woke up, and it was absolutely clear to me that the whole approach to TV criticism was backward,” he told The Times in a 1992 interview. “It was being covered the same way as books and plays and movies. You were told on Thursday by a newspaper critic that there had been an interesting program on Tuesday. It was live. So you couldn’t see it if you missed it.”

Instead, he decided to provide recommendations for future shows in a syndicated column called “TV Key.” He quit his CBS job and used his contacts in the industry to visit rehearsals and gain access to scripts.

His book “TV Movie Almanac & Ratings” was regularly updated and expanded, with the last edition published in 1993. By then, it was called “Movies on TV and Videocassette.”

“Mr. Scheuer once said that about 90 percent of what was on television was not worth watching, but that there was plenty of good stuff within the remaining 10 percent,” the story notes.

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