Television forms and genres
The following list includes major form and genre headings used for television programs in the Lafayette Library Catalog. Click on the links below for descriptions, related headings, examples, and links to titles in the library catalog.
Form and genre descriptions have been adapted from the Library of Congress' Moving Image Genre-Form Guide, which also includes a more expansive discussion of the topic.
- Detective & mystery
- Programs (general)
Work created by recording a series of still images, such as drawings, objects, or posed people; when played back, the static images combine to simulate motion, creating the impression of movement.
Rocky and Friends/The Bullwinkle Show (1959-63)
The Flintstones (1960-66)
The Simpsons (1989- )
Fictional work for television, normally running a half hour in length, which creates humor around the lives of a cast of recurring characters and the "situations" in which they find themselves. Generally, regardless of what happens in any given episode, the characters remain in the same relationships and position as they were before, and much of the humor derives from this predictability. The characters seldom change, and react in an expected manner to whatever challenges them, and generally the overall tenor of the shows is upbeat, expecting a happy, satisfying resolution. Everyday life is often an important element, and as a result, although the setting could be almost anywhere, most situation comedies are set in the home or workplace.
I Love Lucy (1951-61)
The Honeymooners (1955-56)
The Andy Griffith Show (1960-68)
The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-66)
The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-77)
All in the Family (1971-83)
Fictional work in which a detective (sometimes merely an endangered individual forced to "detect" for his own self-protection) attempts to solve a crime, usually a murder or theft. The detective may be an amateur, a private investigator, or a plainclothes member of a police force. Emphasis is placed on the search for clues and rationative power of the detective, rather than the efforts of police or lawbreakers.
Perry Mason (1957-66)
Columbo (1971-77, 1989-93)
The Rockford Files (1974-80)
Twin Peaks (1990-91)
Search the Lafayette Library Catalog for documentary television programs. For documentaries originally released as feature films, search by genre using the phrase documentary films.
Nonfiction work defined by documentary pioneer John Grierson as the creative treatment of actuality. Grounded in some aspect of real life, documentaries may vary from a very deliberate account of facts to an extremely interpretive rendering of a subject, advocating a particular viewpoint on a political, social, or historical issue. In documentaries, actuality should still be dominant over the creative treatment, which, while often staged for the camera, should not go so far as to be dramatized for emotional impact and belong to such genres as historical films or propaganda. Documentaries may include re-enactments, such as showing the movements of armies, or brief scenes of individuals and dialogue, but do not include films that merely use a realistic technique in telling a fictional story. Note: Many documentaries added to our collection before 2003 have not yet been cataloged with this genre heading.
See It Now (1951-58)
The Selling of the Pentagon (1971)
NOVA (1974- ) Vietnam: A Television History (1983)
Frontline (1983- )
Eyes on the Prize (1987)
The Civil War (1990)
Search the Lafayette Library Catalog for television mini-series. Titles are subdivided by country for television programs produced outside the United States.
Multi-episode, fictional program of limited duration, shown on a daily or weekly schedule, usually lasting fifteen hours or less in total running time.
Band of Brothers (2001)
Search the Lafayette Library Catalog for television features. Titles are subdivided by country for television programs produced outside the United States.
Individual fictional work presented on television, usually running from 90 minutes to three hours in length (which may include commercials), and is not part of a regular series or mini-series.
Death of a Salesman (1966)
The Day After (1983)
Nonfiction work documenting a performance, event, or concert of dance, music, opera, operetta, theatrical stage productions, magic, circus, stand-up comedy, burlesque, or other vaudeville or variety stage acts. Although the work being performed may be fictional, as with a stage play, the intent of the work in hand is documentation of that performance rather than a fictional narrative about it.
ELVIS: '68 Comeback Special (1968)
Fictional work portraying the activities and personalities of official law enforcement officers and agencies (from municipal police to F.B.I. to G-men) in tracking criminals. Police stories offer many of the same elements as the crime and mystery genres, but with an added concentration on the procedures of police work and characterizations of police officers. Narratives are often concerned with their excessive devotion to their work and police procedure as they cope with office routine, bureaucracy, and the death of fellow officers in the line of duty. Unlike detectives, policemen fear discovering that they will turn corrupt or are beginning to share traits in common with their criminal adversaries, by also adopting illegal tactics, although for the purpose of apprehending criminals.
Dragnet (1952-59, 67-70)
Barney Miller (1975-82)
Hill Street Blues (1981-87)
Miami Vice (1984-89)
Law & Order (1990- )
Prime Suspect (1992-96)
NYPD Blue (1993- )
Search the Lafayette Library Catalog for television programs. Titles are subdivided by country for television programs produced outside the United States.
A program originally broadcast on television as a regularly scheduled series or special presentation. (Not used with documentary television programs, made-for-TV movies, and television mini-series.)
A single television program shown on a specific occasion, such as an award show, a holiday presentation, or a performance.
Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)
Work that is generally hosted and consists of a number of different acts, sketches, and/or dance and musical performances, combined in a non-narrative manner. Although predominantly for television, some theatrical film variety work has also been produced.
Toast of the Town/The Ed Sullivan Show (1948-71)
Your Show of Shows (1950-54)
The Ernie Kovacs Show (1952-56, 1961-62)
The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (1967-70)
Rowan and Martin's Laugh In (1967-73)
The Carol Burnett Show (1967-78)
Monty Python's Flying Circus (1974-80)
Saturday Night Live (1975- )