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Emilio Audissino

The David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker trio – ‘ZAZ’ – gained wide attention with their disaster-movie spoof Airplane! (1980), showcasing their trademark surrealistic humour. Their next project was a TV series for ABC, Police Squad! (1982), that spoofed the police-detective shows. Police Squad! met an untimely demise, cancelled after only six episodes. TV in the early 1980s was still considered more like a household appliance and more akin to radio than cinema: a voice-led medium. ZAZ’s wordplays and nonsensical dialogue demanded more focus and elaboration than the TV shows of the time, and their sight gags and absurdist byplays were too demanding for the small size of an early 1980s TV screen. The chapter examines this landmark TV show in terms of the clash between the ‘audiovisual disjunction’ and ‘nonsensical accumulation’ strategies of ZAZ’s style and the expectations of the viewer accustomed to the sound-dominated substance of early 1980s network television. ZAZ’s show, although short-lived, would prove influential and contributed in a substantial way to the stylistic evolution of TV comedy: for example, theirs was one of the first comedy shows to discard the standard laugh-track. Police Squad! enjoyed a second life in the following decades, even becoming a cult show, when in the meantime TV had been transformed by shows like The Simpsons, whose sight gags owe much to ZAZ’s style. The key moment under examination is the iconic title sequence followed by the investigation of the crime scene in Episode 1, ‘A Substantial Gift (The Broken Promise)’.

in Substance / style
Partisan feeling and democracy’s enchantments
Author: Andrew Poe

Enthusiasm has long been perceived as a fundamental danger to democratic politics. Many have regarded it as a source of threatening instabilities manifest through political irrationalism. Such a view can make enthusiasm appear as a direct threat to the reason and order on which democracy is thought to rely. But such a desire for a sober and moderate democratic politics is perilously misleading, ignoring the emotional basis on which democracy thrives. Enthusiasm in democracy works to help political actors identify and foster progressive changes. We feel enthusiasm at precisely those moments of new beginnings, when politics takes on new shapes and novel structures. Being clear about how we experience enthusiasm, and how we recognize it, is thus crucial for democracy, which depends on progression and the alteration of ruler and the ruled. This book traces the changing ways enthusiasm has been understood politically in modern Western political thought. It explores how political actors use enthusiasm to motivate allegiances, how we have come to think on the dangers of enthusiasm in democratic politics, and how else we might think about enthusiasm today. From its inception, democracy has relied on a constant affective energy of renewal. By tracing the way this crucial emotional energy is made manifest in political actions – from ancient times to the present – this book sheds light on the way enthusiasm has been understood by political scientists, philosophers, and political activists, as well as its implications for contemporary democratic politics.

Emma Gleadhill

Chapter 9 provides an in-depth analysis of the material development of a powerful friendship between Anglo-Irish traveller Martha Wilmot and Princess Ekaterina Romanovna Dashkova. As head of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Ekaterina was one of the first European women to hold public office. In 1803, Ekaterina welcomed twenty-eight-year-old Martha Wilmot to her rural estate near Moscow. Exiled from court and finding herself alone and forgotten, Ekaterina hoped that Martha, the niece of her old travelling companion Katherine Hamilton, would be a source of companionship. Martha was given paintings, books, precious stones, sables, shawls and keepsakes in the form of jewellery, miniatures and personal accoutrements connected with significant people and events from Ekaterina’s life. Martha returned home with these objects and others that captured something of her experience of Russian culture, including traditional dresses and transcripts of Russian songs and folklore. It is argued that, on one level, Ekaterina’s keepsakes reduced Martha’s agency to the level of a loyal subject, on another the stories they told of Russia’s female leaders and herself were empowering. The objects would lead Martha to spread abroad a vivid picture of Catherine the Great, Ekaterina and Russian folk culture. By teasing out the complexities of one woman’s material sentimentalisation of a friendship, this chapter reveals the keepsake as a powerful narrative instrument that women travellers could use to defy their inferior economic, social, cultural and political value in Britain during this period.

in Taking travel home
Complicating simplicity in Doctor Who
Benedict Morrison

This chapter argues that, despite enormous variations in on-screen style and off-screen modes of production, the serials of classic Doctor Who (1963–89) share a common interest in television’s role in the production and circulation of knowledge. The programme’s self-reflexive acknowledgement of its own status as a television text creates a complex both/and logic in which characters, objects and events both generate the illusion of a coherent science fiction universe and expose how this illusion is created. The chapter analyses elements of the series’ production which have been discussed as simple – or even simplistic – and argues that this simplicity can be read as a baring of the televisual device which offers a complex critique of knowledge formation. The chapter’s analysis of Doctor Who’s performativity aligns with queer theory’s rejection of binary thinking and interest in how simplifying cultural myths – including those concerning sexuality, gender, identity and meaning – are made. These general arguments are complemented by a detailed reading of a moment from the 1966 serial ‘The Gunfighters’ in which the Wild West is exposed as a complex intersection of history, myth, genre and medium. The chapter argues that this serial critiques heteronormative myths of masculine power, familial honour and cultural exceptionalism through its playful – and complex – acknowledgement of its own construction as television.

in Complexity / simplicity
Ariane Hudelet

This chapter connects one of the central themes of The Good Wife – new technologies and the impact of the digital revolution – to the stylistic choices made by the series to represent virtuality. It focuses on the way the long duration of the Network show allows it to show how characters’ identities are increasingly mediated, and how thought processes, memories and fantasies are connected to, and sometimes modelled on, new media and communication technologies. After detailing the stylistic features that connect the characters’ perceptions, memories or fantasies to the language of new media, the analysis focuses on S6E14 (‘Mind’s Eye’), as Alicia Florrick is getting ready to face the editorial board interview in her campaign to become State’s Attorney. The fact that she cannot speak is used as a narrative and aesthetic tool to displace the action within her mind and the editing and camerawork of the episode stress the connection between imagination and digital media or communication tools, consciousness being thus represented as a series of internal, dialogical mises-en-scène. This chapter thus suggests that the series offers a nuanced exploration of the connection between psyche and media, elaborating a form of audiovisual stream of consciousness that accounts for the familiar and uncanny dimension of these digital technologies, a representation that is neither a catastrophic, dystopian denunciation, nor a mere glorification of technological prowess.

in Substance / style
Rescuing John From Cincinnati from the HBO narrative
Robert Watts

This chapter explores the historical contingencies of television style by revisiting David Milch’s much-maligned ‘surf noir’ drama John From Cincinnati (HBO, 2007). Cancelled after a single series, Milch’s enigmatic follow-up to Deadwood (HBO, 2004–6) was widely charged by critics with proffering ‘empty’ style over substance; deemed an aesthetic as well as commercial failure, having been scheduled in HBO’s flagship Sunday night slot following the finale of The Sopranos (HBO, 1999–2007). Applying the series’ own concept of the ‘halo effect’ to examine its critical reception in both the US and the UK, the chapter explores the degree to which damning assessments of John’s stylistic choices can be viewed as being shaped and fixed by the contextual narratives surrounding the programme at its initial moment of transmission. Engaging with disciplinary debates around television aesthetics, the chapter considers the relative lack of diachronic reappraisals of television texts as compared to other art forms. Discussing the merits and pitfalls of mobilising scholars’ own ‘felt responses’ (as well as auteurist approaches) in the process of re-evaluating television texts as aesthetic objects, it ultimately calls for more sustained attention to the conditions under which any TV drama considered a ‘failure’ in its historical moment might be granted (or denied) a ‘second life’. What emerges is a continuing sense of television as an ephemeral or ‘time-tied’ medium (Ellis, 2007), even in a post-broadcast, on-demand age of apparent abundance.

in Substance / style
Michael B. Petersen

What place does the maritime domain occupy in Russia’s twenty-first-century global strategy? Post-Soviet Russia, especially in the past two decades, has increasingly looked to the world’s oceans for opportunity, security, and influence. It is driven to do so by a combination of economic need, strategic military concerns, and increased global integration. Furthermore, Moscow’s global power aspirations propel Russia into the maritime domain, and the nation sees its economic future, its national security, and its ability to influence other nations as linked to the world’s oceans. But just as these concerns drive Russia into broader and deeper engagement at sea, so too does it bring Moscow into competition with global rivals, feeding a need to militarise its maritime frontiers. This is reflected in the various maritime strategies published by Moscow over the years, in the wider body of Russian strategic thought, and in Russia’s actual maritime activities. Ultimately, the maritime domain must be understood as occupying a central position in Russia’s strategic future, one that is at least as important as Moscow’s landward efforts.

in Russian Grand Strategy in the era of global power competition
Editor: Andrew Monaghan

This book offers a nuanced and detailed examination of Russia’s international activity. In broad terms, the book contributes to two of the most important current debates about contemporary Russian actions: whether Moscow is acting strategically or opportunistically, and whether this should be understood in regional or global terms. The book goes against the majority opinions on both questions, and introduces contributions in a number of under-researched themes. It argues that Moscow is not acting in a simply ad hoc, reactive way, but in a consistently strategic manner, and that this is best understood not by analysing Russia’s return to specific regions, but in a more holistic way with a global horizon, linking activity across different regions. This means that the Russian challenge is likely to continue rather than fade away.

The book addresses core themes of Russian activity – military, energy, and economic. But it offers an unusual multi-disciplinary analysis to these themes, incorporating both regional and thematic specialist expertise. Underpinned by detailed analyses of the revolution in Russian geospatial capabilities and the establishment of a strategic planning foundation, the book includes chapters on military and maritime strategies, energy security, and economic diversification and influence. This serves to highlight the connections between military and economic interests that shape and drive Russian strategy.

Emma Gleadhill

Chapter 2 shows how elite women feminised elements of the Grand Tour’s practices to better suit the female experience during the late eighteenth century. The chapter draws attention to some of the objects that women bought, found or created on their Grand Tours and the complex meanings they attached to them to prove the worth of their travel experiences to both themselves and to others. It is argued that the evidence suggests that there were marked gender differences in attitudes between male and female Grand Tourists. Women journals and letters home consistently reveal an enjoyment of the social practice of shopping as a pastime central to their travel experiences and a more mindful and emotional engagement with the small objects they bought or collected during their travels.

in Taking travel home
Tim Butler Garrett

This chapter addresses Mad Men’s tendency to end its episodes by concentrating in close-up on the face of Don Draper (Jon Hamm), who is often pictured in moods of quiet isolation. Such moments undermine historical views of television as a medium whose meanings are chiefly articulated or reinforced by the spoken word (for example, see Ellis 1992). In doing so, the chapter argues, these moments open up further understanding of serial drama’s persistent fascination with the intelligibility of the human face on-screen.

Briefly looking at a range of examples across a number of episodes, the chapter shows how the interpretative challenge of reading the face is heightened in Mad Men by a frequent tension between the semantic void of silence and the floodgates of feeling opened up by the series’ powerful uses of music and song. It concentrates on two central examples: the ending of Season 4’s seventh episode, ‘The Suitcase’, and the closing moments of the Season 6 finale, ‘In Care Of’ (6.13). Each episode’s ending stands as an example of Mad Men’s fascination with moments that evoke a palpable sense of revelation between characters, of their silent exchange and communication.

in Sound / image