Author Archives: payton15

Term Paper Proposal

For my paper I will like to write about the hit sitcom The Simpsons. It is amazing that an animated television sitcom has been on the air since 1989. What is it about the series that allows it to be one of the first animated series to be successful on prime time? Why is it that we continue to watch?

While initially doing research about the series, I found it interesting that English comedian Ricky Gervais became the first celebrity to both write and star in an episode. The show’s writing team consists of sixteen writers who work collaboratively. There is a main writer per episode who writes a draft and than group writing sessions develop a final draft. I also discovered that former writers of the show include Conan O’Brien, Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg. I’m not sure what questions I want to ask about the writing of the show but the idea of that some of the shows writers become celebrities in their own right. How is it that the type of writing they contribute (which I believe consists of adult humor) can continue to be successful as an animated series?

Suggested questions will be greatly appreciated!

 

Or another possibility for a topic is the difference in the adaptaion of Twilight the book versus the horrible movie adaptaion. Yes, I have read all of the books…..

Rapid change in style

Was anyone else put a little off by the differences in style in The Corner? In the beginning I thought the show was going to be in a documentary style format since Gray acknowledges the camera and speaks to the person holding the camera. I was expecting the show to continue in this format and that there would be a relationship between the characters and the camera. But than the show changes its style and acts as if there is a fourth wall between the camera and the characters. The transition was confusing for me and I wasn’t sure why the creators of the television series adaptation had chosen to develop this type of style. As the show continued I forgot about the documentary style aired in the beginning but than at the end of the episode, the show returned to a documentary style for the final scene.

One possibility for changing styles is that the creators of the series wanted to remind us that the stories shown are real. That the series is based off real people and the creators have talked directly to the people portrayed in the show. While I think that the show creates a sense of authenticity through the action, camera movement, and dialogue when it’s not in a documentary style, the rapid changes continued to throw me off. This might be what caused critics to say that The Corner broke boundaries because it did not follow with the viewer’s expectation for its genre.

Differences in style

I have never seen an episode of The Sopranos but I expected greatness. Others I have spoken to became obsessive toward the series. The Richardson reading referred to how the New York Times called the series a work of art. I wouldn’t call the series a work of art, considering I have only seen the first episode, but I did notice a lot of differences between The Sopranos and Homicide. Both programs broke boundaries but vary in the mechanics used to create their distinct style.

First, The Sopranos is an entire hour long episode while Homicide runs about 47 minutes. This allows The Sopranos to create a flow that is strictly about the show and that doesn’t include advertisements. Second, the placement of the third person is different in both programs. Homicide’s camera angles create an illusion that the viewer is another cop in the homicide unit. When a character walks, the camera follows behind them as if the viewer is walking behind them. During a conversation, the camera jerks between the two people talking similar to the way a person’s head moves between two people talking to give each one their full attention. But the camera angle in The Sopranos doesn’t behave as an additional character to the story but as an observer. It also zooms in on various objects to create an artistic style. Also, the music is subtle in Homicide while music is heavily used in The Sopranos. For example, during a beating there is a 50’s style song playing. And there is an opera style song playing during Tony Soprano’s dramatic panic attack. Music adds to the emotion of the scene and also gives humor to scenes.

The styles between the two series are almost opposites but each develops their own style. I enjoy the contrast between the styles because they make the programs intriguing in their respective ways.

NAPD Takeover

Remember when we discussed the authenticity of David Simon’s report of what he saw while observing Baltimore’s homicide unit? We had discussed whether or not the detectives altered their actions since they knew that Simon was observing them. I would like to bring that same discussion to Dragnet from Mitell’s reading to this post.

Besides the obvious difference in style, casting, and video techniques between Homicide and Dragnet, I think that Dragnet was filtered much more than Homicide. Mitell writes that Web created a system with LAPD Chief William Parker to provide stories for the series. Although the show was suppose to be a realistic interpretation of policemen in the 50’s, the LAPD had control on how they would be presented. Mitell explicitly states that the LAPD would make changes to the script before shopping that would create “positive images” of the LAPD (134). Even after the approval of the scripts, the LAPD continue to mold the series to represent them in the best way possible by having a representative of their field on set during filming. It does seem a bit ridiculous that the LAPD has so much amount for developing the direction and style of Dragnet. While I understand that they do have a right to have some say about their portrayal, all of the edits they are allowed to make diminishes some authenticity to the amount of realism produced in the series. The LAPD was seen in a good manner that they even used Dragnet episodes during their training for new officers. Even though the series is praised for being one of the most realistic portrayals of a police unit, it seems as if the LAPD had too much power to sugar coat the series.

Mitell’s explanation of the amount of power the LAPD had in their relationship with Webb reinforces the notion that Simon broke many boundaries by reporting as truthfully as possible what he had observed in Baltimore. This reading has convinced me to appreciate the guts that the producers and writers of Homicide had to stay true to Simon’s observations.

Essay Proposal

The scene I want to analyze is when Bayless and Pendeleton interrogate the “Arab”. Although this scene is quite long, the television clearly shows the different personalities of the two detectives. In the beginning, they claim to work together to get a confession our of the Arab (Adeena Watson’s killer) but slowly Bayless’s emotional attachment to the case takes over him. He physically tries to hard the Arab in order to get him to confess. Than, Pendeleton attempts to use manipulation to get the confession by claiming to be the Arab’s friend. There is a different between the two mediums because the book can tell us how Det. Pelligrinni feels about the situation versus the television program which shows us how he feels through his actions. I might change the direction of the paper and compare this scene with another interrogation scene from a different show to view the boundaries Homicide crossed.

Should critics review the flow?

I was surprised when I read Wallace’s definition of “flow” because it doesn’t give authorship to the creators or writers of a television program. Wallace believes that television should be analyzed the flow of its content, including the commercials that are broken into the program. While I understand the argument that the commercials are reflective of the episode, I don’t buy it. Perhaps because when I watch an episode I do not see a correlation between what is taking place in the episode with the type of advertisement the network had strategically planted in the flow. This is could be because the flow is consistent where I, the viewer, don’t view the commercials as an interruption but I honestly view commercials as a time to take a break from the television program. But if critics were to follow Wallace’s advice and critique television show based on the entire flow, doesn’t the credit of the program go to the network? The network decides what commercials are put into place between the breaks of the show. Then would the critics analyze the connection between the types of commercials shown with the content of the television episode? Do they neglect the work of the authors, writers, directors, etc.? Or would the critics simply review a combination of the two alternatives?

Personally, I believe critics should critique the show as independent from the commercials that border each section of the episode.

Ready to take my order?

Caldwell’s section titled “Giving Notes” was intriguing to me because he puts the spotlight on a subject that tends to be unnoticed. When the author of a television series develops their work, it is safe to assume that they already know what type of show they want to produce. Who the characters are. The feelings the audiences should be producing as they watch each episode. The style of the show. But this can be very hard for the author to produce when they have elite writers constantly telling them to change their artistic approach.

Caldwell is specific when he uses the terms “notes”. He argues that the notes authors are coerced to follow are, “seldom lengthy or abstract since they function as orders about who to cast, how to modify scripts, how to deal with qualify of performance, how to recut a scene, or how to revise endings” (217). Well then how is the rest of the crew supposed to express their artistic ability or skills when they are basically told how to do their job? How does the authorship remain with the original author who created the series, characters, plot and style? Caldwell does seem biases toward this subject which could have caused him to exaggerate the amount of input the writer’s notes have on changing most shows.

This section caused me to look at the idea of authorship in a different way. For me, it became unclear as to who holds authorship powers. Thus far, the power is divided among a small group of people who are constantly arguing with each other for more artistic control over what will finally be aired on television. Just as Caldwell claims, “Hurtwitz likens the note-giving ritual to a form of ‘poker’ in which both sides (network and production company) under deadline pressure bluff each other to get what they want in the series” (218). Thus far in the class I have realized that the entertainment business is a game of politics with groups of people, like production companies and networks, using different tactics to gain control. It’s a dirty business.

Does the author have control?

John Hartley discusses the complex relationship between television authorship, retraction and literary authorship. After reading his essay, it became clear to me that redactors have begun to take on the role as authors for some television programs. Most authors and television producers have altered their programs to satisfy viewers’ needs. So is this a good thing? Does the author’s intent become lost by the modifications done by the redactors?

There are two different examples than come to mind when thinking about the influence redactors have on television that can change the author’s intent. Let’s first look at reality shows as an example. American Idol, America’s Best Dance Crew, and Big Brother are all programs that require audience participation. The redactors, viewers, are the ones who decide which participants won’t make it back for next week’s show. Even though these programs have begun with an author to decide the intent for the show, it is clear that viewers are the ones who control whose standing at the end of each of these competitions. It is fair to believe that the authors and producers of the show don’t alter the voting results but provide the true facts in order to please their viewers. (But I guess one could argue about the Adam Lambert conspiracy.)

The other example that comes to mind is the influence fan blogging has to different television shows. Most prime time show producers encourage their fans to comment on the show right after it has been broadcast in order to gain immediate feedback. Programs on the CW rely on this method heavily. Producers begun to discuss to the author how the fans are reacting to the show as a mean to understand what desires the fans have for the show. This way the author is able to modify the program in order to have the needs met of the audience in order to keep a high rating for that program to remain broadcasted on television.

So is this a good thing? I think this argument can be viewed two ways. First, I could say no this is a bad thing because the author’s intent for the show becomes altered in order to satisfy the redactors. The core value of the program dissolves as different redactors pull apart conflicting interests and begin to gain the most control over the direction of the program. But I believe the counter argument would give a utopian idea of how the method should be used. Redaction can be seen as method that helps the author understand how their work is being perceived by the audience. This way, the author can remain the “author” toward their work but acknowledge how their work is perceived. Then the author can modify their work if desired but doesn’t give all the power to the redactors.