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Moments in television

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.

Moments in television

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.

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Moments in television

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.

Complex/simple moments in Rick and Morty
James Walters

imaginative viewers is not difficult to embrace. And yet, the use of moments is still striking. The spinning out of theories based on minor details brings viewers back to and away from the show's on-screen audio-visual material. The process both mines that material for additional resonances and leaves it behind in pursuit of narrative patterns that can be perceived to lie beneath or beyond it. Inherent in this activity are choices about how television moments can be approached, understood and valued. The decision, by some fans, to use moments as fragmentary evidence for a

in Complexity / simplicity
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Sarita Malik and Darrell M. Newton

within, and are informed by, what is now a new age of television, replete with digital services, streaming and on-demand downloads. For us, it is precisely the speed and capacity of today’s cultural turnover that intensifies the educational, social and political value of looking back. So the collection offers an opportunity to pause and reflect on some of the landmark television moments in this intricate history. How have minority ethnic communities been represented on public service television, how do constructions of ‘race’, difference and multiculturalism shape our

in Adjusting the contrast
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Graham Harrison

‘three-second click’ reference, which was to become prominent during the build-up to the G8, used at Live 8 around the world and used by MPH until its adverts were withdrawn supposedly for being political. Taken together, the efforts of Comic Relief and Richard Curtis made a great contribution to the reach of MPH throughout the first half of 2005. Each of these television moments was produced by the BBC. The BBC also had the broadcasting rights to Live 8, and was involved in the production of the event. As a result, each of these programmes had to go through BBC

in The African presence
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Design and embodiment in The Americans
Lucy Fife Donaldson

( 2018 ) ‘ The 10 best TV scenes of 2018: the year's most memorable TV moments, from The Americans to Sharp Objects ’. Vulture , 11 December. (accessed 16 July 2019). Collins , Sean T. ( 2018 ) ‘ The 10 best musical moments in The Americans ’. Vulture , 31 May.

in Substance / style
Dave Rolinson

a memorable twist that it appeared in one magazine’s list of ‘the 50 greatest TV moments of all time’ (Anonymous 1998). Far more satisfying is the jarring use of a second ending, entirely Clarke’s invention, which is radically different from everything that has preceded it. The united firms are interviewed by a documentary crew, and ‘explain’ hooliganism. In this scene, largely improvised by the actors, suggestions include ‘the buzz’, masculinity, Britishness, and Yusef’s declaration that his facial injury means ‘football’. As David Bordwell (1982) argued, in film

in Alan Clarke