This chapter examines Prime Suspect (ITV, 1991–2006), A Touch of Frost (ITV, 1992–2010), and Cracker (ITV, 1993–2006). Each programme utilises the visual iconography of the horror film to capture a rising dissatisfaction with the criminal justice system’s continued adoption of rational-actor policy. Then, the chapter explores how each series uses horror-film stylistics to depict perceived threats to society, including the underclass of Prime Suspect, middle-class femininity in Frost, and Cracker’s working-class ‘masculinity in crisis’. Lastly, an examination of The Cops (BBC, 1998–2001) determines how digital, handheld cameras combine docudrama’s emotional realism with the ‘horizontality’ of contemporary social realism to embody the precariousness and existentialism of Anthony Giddens’s ‘new individualism’, whilst critiquing New Labour’s adoption of ‘left realism’ criminology.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book considers memory as a specific framework for the study of popular film, intervening in growing debates about the status and function of memory in cultural life and discourse. It examines the relationship between official and popular history and the constitution of memory narratives in and around the production and consumption of American cinema. The book explores the political stakes of cinematic discourse in its production of national memory. It also examines the discursive and institutional apparatus that has come to support the memory of Classic Hollywood in British cultural life. The book also considers both the presence of music and colour in nostalgia films of the 1990s and the impact of digital and video technologies on the representational determinants of mediated memory.