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.
Epic / everyday: moments in television 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 the epic and the everyday. The book explores how both the epic and the everyday inform television’s creative practice as well as critical and scholarly responses to TV. It argues that a fuller consideration of these two modes can revitalise TV criticism and interpretation, enabling fresh perspectives on the value of television, its essential qualities and aesthetic significance. 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, science fiction and detective shows. Programmes comprise The Incredible Hulk, Game of Thrones, Detectorists, Community, Doctor Who, The Second Coming, Years and Years, The Americans, Columbo and Lost. Epic / everyday is essential reading for those interested in how closer attention to the presence of the epic and the everyday might enhance our critical appreciation and enjoyment of television.