GROSS: If you're just joining us my guest is our TV critic David Bianculli. And he has a new book called "The platinum Age Of Television From I Love Lucy To The Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific." What role did TV have in your life when you were growing up?--Marshal Zeringue
BIANCULLI: Jeez, everything. And I sort of had to confront that and discover it in the book. I'd never really been introspective in that way before. But I watched a lot of TV when I was a kid because I was alone a lot as a kid. It's also why I read a lot when I was young. And because my father, after my mom died, was working so many hours a week, I was...
GROSS: Doing what?
BIANCULLI: He was a pharmacist at the time and then a pharmaceutical chemist. But I got to watch a lot of TV and have control of it early. And so I was choosing what it was I wanted to watch, and that was kind of important. And then it ended up being - opening up a world to me that I responded to. I can remember watching things like - did you see Lee J. Cobb in "Death Of A Salesman" when it was on TV?
GROSS: I don't think so.
BIANCULLI: It was - it was a transformative moment to me. I'd never been to New York. I'd never been to a Broadway show. And that meant it was such a powerful performance and play. And I hadn't read "Death Of A Salesman" before, and TV gave me that. And TV made me laugh and TV entertained me, and I ended up going to college to want to be a TV critic at a time when film studies were...[read on]