Guest and returning writers in American television drama series: The two Davids | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 6, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1759-7137
  • E-ISSN: 1759-7145



The article uses two distinct historical case studies to argue in favour of the agency of guest writers and returning episode writers of American television drama series in terms of their ability to create thematically and stylistically distinctive episodes with an individual voice. In the first, I look at writer-director David Mamet’s episode of Hill Street Blues (NBC, 1980–1987) entitled ‘A Wasted Weekend’ and in the second I discuss several episodes written by writer-director-producer David Chase for The Rockford Files (NBC, 1974–1980). I explore the case studies in relation to existing critical literature on American television drama authorship and comparison to more recent examples of guest and returning episode writers. Using in-depth textual, script and production analysis, I argue that the tone, content and style of certain episodes of American television drama series are unique to the individual writer. I contend that the production roles of guest writer and returning episode writer, while different at different times, offer scope for writers to distinguish their work in American television. In addressing these particular screenwriting roles, I challenge the overemphasis on the production hierarchy in terms of critical accounts of creativity within American television drama and probe the exploitation of writers in cultural validations of television.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): David Chase; David Mamet; drama; episodes; television; writers
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