This is the first book-length study of one of the most significant of all British television writers, Jimmy McGovern. The book provides comprehensive coverage of all his work for television including early writing on Brookside, major documentary dramas such as Hillsborough and Sunday and more recent series such as The Street and Accused. Whilst the book is firmly focused on McGovern’s own work, the range of his output over the period in which he has been working also provides something of an overview of the radical changes in television drama commissioning that have taken place during this time. Without compromising his deeply-held convictions McGovern has managed to adapt to an ever changing environment, often using his position as a sought-after writer to defy industry trends. The book also challenges the notion of McGovern as an uncomplicated social realist in stylistic terms. Looking particularly at his later work, a case is made for McGovern employing a greater range of narrative approaches, albeit subtly and within boundaries that allow him to continue to write for large popular audiences. Finally it is worth pointing to the book’s examination of McGovern’s role in recent years as a mentor to new voices, frequently acting as a creative producer on series that he part-writes and part brings through different less-experienced names.
Paul Abbott is one of the most profound, passionate and political television screenwriters and showrunners of the twenty-first century. At the 2004 British Academy Television Awards, Abbott was presented with an honorary Award for Outstanding Writing in Television and later stated as 'the Most Powerful People in Television Drama'. This book presents an aesthetic analysis of televisual case studies. It elucidates, decodes and discusses key examples of Abbott's output, exhibiting a vital evaluation of Abbott's work over the past three decades and assessing his contribution to British television. Demonstrating both Abbott's career development and his early talents, the book considers Abbott's early life. The three projects that saw Abbott work for the first time as a television writer, television-series drama creator and finally, a television producer were: Coronation Street, Children's Ward and Cracker. The book explores Reckless: a drama written by Abbott broadcast on ITV in the UK and on PBS in the USA. It then illuminates the televisual aesthetics of Clocking Off, looking at the exploration of space, place and location to highlight personal perspectives and the extraordinary nature of ordinary lives around the northern English Mackintosh Textiles factory. Abbott created a text that critiques and partially refuses (via comedic undermining) traditional gender expectations in relation to the thirty-something single British woman in the comedy serial Linda Green. Next, the book explores the spectacular drama series State of Play and the ongoing and highly successful drama series Shameless. Finally, Abbott's production company 'AbbottVision' is considered.
You’re nicked is a genre study of police series produced by UK television from 1955 to the 2010s. It considers how the relationship among production practices, visual stylistics, and resultant ideology has evolved over the past sixty years, and how this has had an impact on changing cultural definitions of the police series genre. To chart the development of the genre each chapter focuses on a particular decade to examine how key series represent the changes that gendered identities and social-class demographics were experiencing economically, socially, and politically in light of the disassembly of the postwar settlement. Depictions of the police station, domestic scenes of criminals, and the private lives of police officials are examined to unearth the complex ideology underpinning each series and to determine how the police series genre can be used to document socio-economic changes to British society.
TV antiquity explores representations of ancient Greece and Rome throughout television history. It is the first comprehensive overview of the genre in television. More specifically, the author argues that serial television set in antiquity offers a perspective on the ancient world quite distinct from their cinematic counterparts. The book traces the historic development of fictional representations of antiquity from the staged black-and-white shows of the 1950s and 1960s to the most recent digital spectacles. A key argument explored throughout the book is that the structure of serial television (with its focus on intimacy and narrative complexity) is at times better suited to explore the complex mythic and historic plots of antiquity. Therefore, the book consciously focuses on multipart television dramas rather than made-for-TV feature films. This enables the author to explore the specific narrative and aesthetic possibilities of this format. The book features a range of insightful case studies, from the high-profile serials I, Claudius (1976) and Rome (2005–8) to lesser-known works like The Caesars (1968) or The Eagle of the Ninth (1976) and popular entertainment shows such as Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (1995–99) and STARZ Spartacus (2010–13). Each of the case studies also teases out broader issues of the specific decade under consideration. Consequently, the book highlights the creative interplay between television genres and production environments and illustrates how cultural and political events have influenced the representations of antiquity in television.
This is the first full-length study of the career and achievements of David
Milch, the US writer who created NYPD Blue, Deadwood and other ground-breaking
television dramas. It locates Milch’s work in the traditions of American
literature while tracking his career from academic research assistant to leading
Hollywood screenwriter of his generation. It draws on behind-the-scenes material
in order to evaluate the nature and significance of authorship, intention,
collaboration and performance in his shows, and in doing so provides a major
contribution to the study of television art.
Joss Whedon explores the televisual texts that have been worked on by Whedon,
from his earliest days as a writer on Roseanne to this involvement with
S.H.I.E.L.D. In doing so it engages in and challenges a range of important
questions about these works, but also about the broader recent history of
television in the USA and the UK, and the studies of it. The Part I looks at
three periods of Whedon’s career (up to the end of season 3 of his iconic Buffy
the Vampire Slayer; the years covering the full run of Angel; and the time
between the ending of Angel and the present day). Looking at changing modes of
production, distribution and viewing, this section offers Whedon in the context
of the recent history of television, as well as locating his contribution to
other media such as comic books, internet series and films. It also looks at his
involvement in liberal politics and assesses the politics of his shows. Part
II provides readings of each of his most important television shows through the
lens of his narrative choices. These range from the importance of the exposition
scene in Buffy to questions about the very possibility of serial narrative in
Firefly; the significance of narrative complexity in Angel and the empty slate
narrative of Dollhouse. Throughout, it uses textual analysis, historical
assessment, scholarly sources, as well as my own unique correspondence with
Whedon collaborator Jane Espenson, and the exceptional store of draft scripts
for the episodes that she wrote. A transcript of the correspondence is included
as an appendix.
In television scholarship, sound and image have been attended to in different ways, but image has historically dominated. The chapters gathered here attend to both: they weigh the impact and significance of specific choices of sound and image, explore their interactions, and assess their roles in establishing meaning and style. The contributors address a wide range of technical and stylistic elements relating to the television image. They consider production design choices, the spatial organisation of the television frame and how camera movements position and reposition parts of the visible world. They explore mise-en-scène, landscapes and backgrounds, settings and scenery, and costumes and props. They attend to details of actors’ performances, as well as lighting design and patterns of colour and scale. As regards sound, each chapter distinguishes different components on a soundtrack, delineating diegetic from non-diegetic sound, and evaluating the roles of elements such as music, dialogue, voice-over, bodily sounds, performed and non-performed sounds. Attending to sound design, contributors address motifs, repetition and rhythm in both music and non-musical sound. Consideration is also given to the significance of quietness, the absence of sounds, and silence. Programmes studied comprise The Twilight Zone, Inspector Morse, Children of the Stones, Dancing on the Edge, Road, Twin Peaks: The Return, Bodyguard, The Walking Dead and Mad Men. Sound and image are evaluated across these examples from a wide range of television forms, formats and genres, which includes series, serial and one-off dramas, children’s programmes, science fiction, thrillers and detective shows.
This collection appraises an eclectic selection of programmes, exploring and weighing their particular achievements and their contribution to the television landscape. It does so via a simultaneous engagement with the concepts of complexity and simplicity. This book considers how complexity, which is currently attracting much interest in TV studies, impacts upon the practice of critical and evaluative interpretation. It engages reflectively and critically with a range of recent work on televisual complexity, expands existing conceptions of complex TV and directs attention to neglected sources and types of complexity. It also reassesses simplicity, a relatively neglected category in TV criticism, as a helpful criterion for evaluation. It seeks out and reappraises the importance of simple qualities to particular TV works, and explores how simplicity might be revalued as a potentially positive and valuable aesthetic feature. Finally, the book illuminates the creative achievements that arise from balancing simplicity with complexity. The contributors to this collection come from diverse areas of TV studies, bringing with them myriad interests, expertise and perspectives. All chapters undertake close analysis of selected moments in television, considering a wide range of stylistic elements including mise-en-scène, spatial organisation and composition, scripting, costuming, characterisation, performance, lighting and sound design, colour and patterning. The range of television works addressed is similarly broad, covering UK and US drama, comedy-drama, sitcom, animation, science fiction, adaptation and advertisement. Programmes comprise The Handmaid’s Tale, House of Cards, Father Ted, Rick and Morty, Killing Eve, The Wire, Veep, Doctor Who, Vanity Fair and The Long Wait.
Substance and style have been attended to separately in different strands of television studies, from those who have sought to establish the discipline as serious and worthy of study, to the work of television aesthetics, which has taken stylistic achievement as a primary focus. This collection interrogates and overturns the typical relationships between the terms, instead setting them alongside one another and renegotiating their relationship through new perspectives and with reference to a range of television programming. Contributors draw attention to the ways substance and style inform one another, placing value on their integration and highlighting the potential for new meanings to form through their combination. In this way, the binary is used to re-evaluate television that has been deemed a failure, or to highlight the achievements of programming or creative personnel who are less celebrated. Chapters present style as a matter of substance, in terms of it being both part of the material constitution of television and an aspect of television that rewards detailed attention. Substance is developed through a range of interpretations which invite discussion of television’s essential qualities and capabilities as well as its meaningfulness, in conjunction with its stylistic achievements. Programmes studied comprise The Americans, Call the Midwife, Les Revenants, The Good Wife, Friends, The Simpsons, John From Cincinnati, Police Squad! and The Time Tunnel. Substance and style are evaluated across these examples from a wide range of television forms, formats and genres, which include series and serial dramas, sitcoms, science fiction, animation, horror, thrillers and period dramas.
The well-being of Europe’s citizens depends less on individual consumption and more on their social consumption of essential goods and services – from water and retail banking to schools and care homes – in what we call the foundational economy. Individual consumption depends on market income, while foundational consumption depends on social infrastructure and delivery systems of networks and branches, which are neither created nor renewed automatically, even as incomes increase. This historically created foundational economy has been wrecked in the last generation by privatisation, outsourcing, franchising and the widespread penetration of opportunistic and predatory business models. The distinctive, primary role of public policy should therefore be to secure the supply of basic services for all citizens (not a quantum of economic growth and jobs). Reconstructing the foundational has to start with a vision of citizenship that identifies foundational entitlements as the conditions for dignified human development, and likewise has to depend on treating the business enterprises central to the foundational economy as juridical persons with claims to entitlements but also with responsibilities and duties. If the aim is citizen well-being and flourishing for the many not the few, then European politics at regional, national and EU level needs to be refocused on foundational consumption and securing universal minimum access and quality. If/when government is unresponsive, the impetus for change has to come from engaging citizens locally and regionally in actions which break with the top down politics of ‘vote for us and we will do this for you’.