Terry Gilliam was drawn to Watchmen, with its dark overtones and caustic take on American dreams, as well as its ambitious scope, making it for him 'the War and Peace of comic books'. Gilliam joked that The Fisher King was his 'selling out' film. The film had another distinction: few filmmakers are involved in hits based on the legend of the Holy Grail; The Fisher King made Gilliam perhaps the only individual to have performed the feat twice. The Fisher King offers a diagnosis of the soul's scurvy. The screenplay casts a critical eye over the egotism and vacuous materialism of contemporary America, depicting and denouncing that society as a sterile wasteland, lorded over by indulgent, vicious, morally corrupt and emotionally unaware elites.
Graeme Turner's judgement of the place and significance of the period films produced during the revival re-emphasises several key issues already acknowledged in relation to the Ocker comedies and the Australian Gothic. The film credited with inspiring the cycle of period films, and with endowing the new Australian cinema with an aesthetic maturity belying its age, was Picnic at Hanging Rock. Picnic's basis in the Gothic and its extension of its director's interest in alienating subjective experience underline the film's adoption of a period setting in order to offer a critique of authority within a fantasy-horror format. Fred Schepisi's films which use the period setting focus on male experience of intolerance and oppression, and refuse to temper their criticism of prevailing attitudes through simplification of issues or prettification of mise-en-scene. Sirens achieves a belated revival of the period film cycle, while developing the themes of its writer-director.
This book aims to provide resources for critical thinking on key aspects of television drama in Britain since 1960, including institutional, textual, cultural and audience-centred modes of study. It explores the continuing popularity of the situation comedy, and makes a convincing case for considering sitcom as a key popular genre. By offering a sense of how 'real' audiences respond to, and engage with, actual programmes in specific social situations, dominant conceptions of the social meanings of Carla Lane's Butterflies and Jimmy Perry and David Croft's Dad's Army are challenged and renegotiated. The book takes up Queer As Folk to focus on its status as an authored intervention in debates about the representation of homosexuality. It demonstrates that The Prisoner series inhabits contradictions by unpacking the complex question of the series's authorship, and the inadequacy of attributing its meanings to its creator, star performer or production team, for example. The book argues that The Demon Headmaster makes a significant contribution to the project of exploring and defining questions of ethics and justice in social organisation, in part, by claiming children's culture as a space of experimentation, resistance and subversion. It looks at the ways in which television drama embodies assumptions about its audience, and pursues this in a sophisticated way in relation to late twentieth-century television adaptations of 'the female Gothic'. The struggle between the BBC power-base in London and its satellite Departments in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales is also dealt with.
In the autumn of 2000, the original cast of Carla Lane's Butterflies reassembled to celebrate Ria's sixtieth birthday as part of the BBC's annual charity appeal Comic Relief. The constant recycling of 'old' situation comedies and their apparently enduring appeal has provoked surprisingly little academic interest. This chapter discusses the complex pleasures of viewing, re-viewing and remembering Butterflies. Most respondents consider Butterflies a 'superior' domestic sitcom in comparison with other popular favourites such as Terry and June, George and Mildred and The Good Life although these shows were also considered enjoyable. Butterflies' themes of marital boredom and frustration have strong similarities to Betty Friedan's interpretation of the discontent and dissatisfaction experienced by white middle-class US housewives in The Feminine Mystique. This book was often dubbed the 'founding' text of second-wave feminism.
In terms of television production and scheduling, the ghost story offers an entirely different incentive during the festive season, in that it is sold as 'special', season-specific programming, as part of the Christmas television package. Emphasising the importance of sound in this teleplay, the TV Times article accompanying 'The Open Door' unusually focused on the creation of sound effects for the episode. Mystery and Imagination was produced during an innovative time in the history of British television, often referred to as the 'Golden Age' of television drama, and saw the Gothic drama on television being used to 'showcase' new production technologies and the talents of ABC's creative personnel. The remit behind Ghost Story for Christmas was to produce a television version of classic ghost stories, referencing the tradition of oral ghost storytelling at Christmas, and from 1971 to 1975 these stories were the adapted work of M.R. James.
Monty Python's Flying Circus clearly plays the key role in launching Terry Gilliam as a filmmaker. This chapter also addresses certain pertinent aspects of one of television's greatest comedy shows. One of these aspects is the importance of Gilliam's animation to the style as well as the structure of the show. One of the few self-referential moments occurs in Gilliam's animation, The Killer Cars, in which pedestrian-devouring cars are consumed by a giant mutant cat. Gilliam's animations transfer better than many of the great verbal sketches. Holy Grail is more focused on a single set of characters and a relatively coherent narrative. Hence the animation is decidedly less surreal than on television or in Something Completely Different. Holy Grail gave Gilliam a tough and highly instructive apprenticeship in filmmaking, but the opportunity only arose because he and Terry Jones were Python members.
This chapter connects a study of the commissioning and production processes of the well-known science-fiction drama series Doctor Who with the larger theoretical question of the understandings of 'quality' guiding its production and reception. 'The Daleks' ensures Doctor Who's survival by attracting significant audiences with a futuristic science fiction adventure. As James Chapman has noted, the evaluation and justification of quality in British television drama has focused on its social realist tradition or on its relationship with literature. The chapter shows how the assumptions of the production team, aesthetics of the programme text, audiences, and publicity discourses and merchandising contexts lead to different understandings of 'quality' and negotiations with and between these understandings. Along with merchandise, spin-off and supplementary texts in various media supported the attractions of Doctor Who and especially the Daleks, both stimulating and satisfying Dalek-mania.
This chapter investigates the legacy of the representation of family violence and domestic abuse in Twin Peaks. It shows how the Gothic mode subsequently flourished at the turn of the century in a number of long-running Gothic series and serials. For the sake of brevity, this examination of US Gothic television will focus on American Gothic and Millennium as case studies. Twin Peaks and American Gothic offer family-centred episodic narratives which are recognisable as American Gothic narratives, drawing on plots, characterisations and imagery which are easily identifiable within nationally specific Gothic convention. Millennium may initially seem more elusive in terms of generic categorisation. The argument that Gothic serial drama in the US made during the 1990s showcased innovations and changes within the television industry evokes a characterisation of the industry prior to and during this decade. This characterisation has been carefully outlined in John Thornton Caldwell's Televisuality.
This book is about the British film director Terence Fisher. It begins by setting the context by detailing Fisher's directorial debut to Hammer's horror production and the importance of the Hammer horror to Fisher's career. Hammer's horror production represents one of the striking developments in post-war British cinema. The book explains some professional and industrial contexts in which Fisher operated and shows how these relate both to the films he made and the way in which these films have been judged and valued. It presents a detailed account of The Astonished Heart, Fisher's sixth film as director, highlighting the benefits and some of the problems involved in thinking about Fisher's career generally in its pre-horror phase. The successful Hammer film, The Curse of Frankenstein, both inaugurated the British horror boom and established Fisher as a film-maker whose name was known to critics as someone who specialised in the despised horror genre. After The Curse of Frankenstein, Fisher became primarily a horror director. The book presents an account of the highs and lows Fisher faced in his directorial career, highlighting his significant achievements and his box-office failures. It also shows Fisher as a director dependent on and at ease with the industrial and collaborative nature of film-making. In a fundamental sense, what value there is in Terence Fisher's work exists because of the British film industry and the opportunities it afforded Fisher, not despite the industry.
This book argues the centrality of hybridity to Terry Gilliam's films. Gilliam had a collaborative approach to filmmaking and a desire to provoke audiences to their own interpretations as other forms of intertextual practice. Placing Gilliam in the category of cinematic fantasist does some preliminary critical work, but crudely homogenises the diversity of his output. One way of marking this range comes from understanding that Gilliam employs an extraordinary variety of genres. These include medieval comedy; children's historical adventure; dystopian satire; the fantastic voyage; science fiction; Gonzo Journalism; fairy tale; and gothic horror. Gilliam's work with Monty Python assured him a revered place in the history of that medium in Britain. As a result, the Python films, And Now for Something Completely Different, The Holy Grail, Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life, along with his own, Jabberwocky, Time Bandits, and Brazil, show him moving successfully into the British film industry. Most of his films have been adaptations of literary texts, and Jabberwocky forges an extended tale of monsters and market forces. The Adventures of Baron Munchausen builds on some tales from the original texts, constructing a complex examination of fantasy, representation and mortality. Taking crucial ingredients from medieval and older mythologies, the screenplay of The Fisher King resituates them and reworks them for modern America. Gilliam's complex interaction with Britain and America explains his ambiguous place in accounts of American and British films.