Television links

25th March 2019

John Wyver with links to recent stuff about what we can still just about call television.

The cinematic in contemporary television and media: a strong set of selected clips with accompanying short essays from in media res:

  • The cinematic as force: curator of the week’s contributions Angelo Restivo kicks things off with a reflection on Breaking Bad and an argument that ‘the cinematic creates intensive thresholds in the image that work directly upon the bodies, objects, and spaces in the frame, often pushing us outside the logic of the narrative’.
  • What’s going on? Cinematic montage and televisual narrative: in an interesting consideration of cinematic editing and “live” televisual cutting, Corey K Creekmur uses an example from Sens8 to suggest that ‘The jagged fragments of modernist cinema are now the building blocks of serial narration, and montage, once virtually a definition of avant-garde cinema, has reemerged at the center of the current intersection of pulp and “quality” television.
  • Worth it: Steven Shapiro analyses a music video from musician Moses Sumney and film director Allie Avital, describing it as ‘intense, immersive, and intimate; yet also implosive and claustrophobic’.
  • Don Draper’s mask – evoking the cinematic: ‘What makes Mad Men cinematic,’ Rashna Wadia Richards posits, ‘is that its images activate a chain of unexpected or uncanny connections with a range of films. We might say, then, that the cinematic reveals how serial television serves an archival function in relation to cinema.
  • Of the cinematic and the televisual: considering one moment set in Jennifer Melfi’s office in The Sopranos, Martha P. Notchimson cautions against the application of ‘cinematic’ to serial television, asking ‘do we not lose the particularity and magnitude of the television auteur’s work, exalting cinema as the good object toward which inferior televisuality must strive? ‘

History of the BBC – sets and signals: a terrific contribution about how early television was watched, and by whom…

History of the BBC: Resurrection 1946: … and a page about the return of television after the war, including a downloadable copy of Robert Silvey’s 1948 in-house report, ‘An Enquiry Into Television Viewing’.

Science and Life – How Television Works: a truly remarkable clip about the operation of a television studio, courtesy of BBC Archive’s Twitter account, from a 1961 broadcast.

Harold Pinter at ITV: Billy Smart for the Pinter Legacies research project on the dramatist’s works produced for commercial television.

A Dalek is (now) a many-splendored thing: from the new release of the journal of videographic essays [in]Transition comes a study by Keith M. Johnston of the colour of the Daleks in the 1965 feature film Dr Who and the Daleks, which was shot in Eastman Color:

Billions, Succession and the making of wealth porn: immensely engaging feature by Alexis Soloski for The New York Times about the ways in which high-end drama series create their vision of the ultra-rich. Lots of good quotes and stories, but I particularly liked this:

One hedge funder emailed the Billions creators (who declined to identify him) to complain about [Bobby] Axelrod’s dinky private plane. “I wouldn’t be caught dead in that sardine can,” he wrote. (Said sardine can retails for around $40 million.)

All hail Billions – the smartest stupid show on TV: … and then there’s this from Alex Hess for the Guardian, who calls the series ‘just about the most finely crafted trash on TV’. The article makes some good points, but why (guiltily) disparage the series as ‘trash’?

Netflix’s bright future looks a lot like television’s dim past: Sean T Collins for The Concourse on the way that Netflix relies on network television ‘re-runs’.

Tellybox – four ways of finding something to watch together: Libby Miller posts from BBC Research & Development on prototypes for helping you decide about what to watch on television.

The Good Fight; S3, Thursday night, More4 – what more do you need to know? Above, the wonderful Christine Baranski.

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