Top of the Rock: Inside the Rise and Fall of Must See TV
by Warren Littlefield, with T.R. Pearson
(Doubleday, 2012, 326 pages)
I’ve been watching NBC comedies since I was too young to understand half of the jokes and still watch Friends constantly. So when I saw the cover of Top of the Rock covered with my favorite characters, I was immediately excited to read it. Warren Littlefield helped create and develop some of the top NBC shows when he was an executive at NBC, shows like Cheers, Seinfeld, Friends, and ER just to name a few. After 20 years at NBC, he was fired with his last projects being Will & Grace and The West Wing. But Top of the Rock is mostly focused on a behind the scenes look of how NBC shows from the “Must See TV” era were created and developed.
Top of the Rock is not your regular read as it has commentary from the actors, writers, executives, and many more from each show. As I was reading, I felt like I was reading the script from a TV documentary about NBC rather than a book since it jumped between people every few sentences. You get a lot of different views about each show and each person’s experience so that makes it interesting but it also makes it hard to keep track of what each person’s role was. Eventually I stopped trying to figure out each person’s significance, which made the read a lot more enjoyable.
There are a couple of chapters that I felt like people took just to complain about how NBC is run today and Jeff Zucker. I understand they probably needed to get if off their chest, but I could’ve done without it. After I finished, I quickly passed it off to my sister who has a Friends obsession like mine and she’s finding it as interesting as I did. But we both agree that once you start reading it, you’ll want to watch all those shows again. And the only shows from the “Must See Era” on Netflix are Cheer and Frasier. Believe me, we’ve already checked.