The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows

The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows is a trade paperback reference work by the American television researchers Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh, first published by Ballantine Books in 1979. The ninth edition came out in 2007 (ISBN 978-0345497734).

According to the authors, the book is an attempt to list all commercially-broadcast network series ever shown in the evening or nighttime hours (defined as 6:00 P.M. Eastern Standard Time or later) in the United States. It also lists programs which were widely syndicated in the U.S., and, effective with the seventh edition in 1999, cable television series if, at the time they were aired, the cable network carrying them was available in at least 50% of U.S. homes.

Other criteria for inclusion:

  • The series must have been carried on a commercial network. Programs produced for and by public broadcasters such as National Educational Television and the Public Broadcasting Service are excluded unless at some point in their existence they had a prime time network or commercial cable television run.
  • The series must have run for at least four weeks on the same night of the week at the same time, or at least have been planned to do so in the event that it was cancelled prior to this. Thus, specials and miniseries presented on consecutive nights are excluded, with an exception being made for the seminal miniseries Roots and miniseries like North and South, Book II, which was originally presented in a nightly format but then subsequently rerun on a weekly basis.

Cable coverage

The 2007 ninth edition also includes individual listings for cable networks themselves.

This work is a credible source of information for many U.S. television programs and also has grown over its publication history to include many other features such as season-by-season schedule charts, list of Emmy Award winners season-by-season, and, in recent editions, trivia quiz games. The eighth edition (ISBN 0-345-45542-8) was published in 2003, followed by the ninth edition on 18 October 2007.

For the many shows and series not covered by Brooks and Marsh, researchers turn to Alex McNeil's Total Television (Penguin, 1984-96). A comparable book covering daytime television (e.g., game shows, soap operas, weekend cartoons) is The Encyclopedia of Daytime Television by Wesley Hyatt (Billboard, 1997, ISBN 0823083152).


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