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by Nathan Pensky

9 Dec 2010


One of the great strengths of television as a storytelling device is its episodic, yet indefinitely framed sense of time. Television’s season format allows for longer-form storytelling, longer still for stories that span the length of an entire series, while individual episodes allow for more focused moments. The viewer experiences narrative time both in measurements of years and the present moment.
 
This effect of story experienced both in the long and the short term is evident especially in shows that do not slavishly follow a timeline, but instead shake things up through flashback or dream sequence, as in Twin Peaks and The Sopranos, or in allowing longer periods to suspend between picking back up at the beginning of a season, as with Battlestar Gallactica and Mad Men. One of the most inventive uses of the return from “summer break” at the beginning of a season was the addition of Dawn in the Season 5 premiere of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The sudden appearance of the Dawn character was instantly disorienting, but also interestingly significant of television’s standard practice of haphazardly inserting previously unknown characters into established narrative worlds.

by Melissa Crawley

7 Dec 2010


Sons of Anarchy is a family drama. Well, it’s a dysfunctional family drama where the family is a California motorcycle club and their business is gun running. Like many families, the Sons share meals, celebrate births and mourn deaths. They also shoot people, drink a lot and party with strippers and porn stars.

This season they take a family vacation to Ireland to visit S.O.A.—Belfast edition. We know it’s Ireland because everyone speaks with a really thick Irish accent and the Irish version of the clubhouse looks like the one in their hometown of Charming, only with overcast skies. Also, what would a trip to Ireland be without the IRA and a morally bankrupt priest? Both make strong appearances in season three as the M/C searches for the son of one of the Sons—Jackson ‘Jax’ Teller’s (Charlie Hunnam) kidnapped baby Abel.

by Lynnette Porter

3 Dec 2010


In the past year, several Sherlocks have arrived on the scene, most notably Robert Downey Jr.’s action hero and the BBC’s sociopathic sleuth, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, who recently made his way to the US via PBS.  If the current flavor isn’t to one’s taste, other varieties are readily available. Sherlocks have trod the boards in London, entertained crowds at fringe festivals, and taken on a dinosaur on “mockbuster” Asylum’s DVD.

Although fascination with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s brilliant creation seems to be more fashionable than ever, the way Sherlock is portrayed says as much about today’s audiences as about this timeless character. In an age when opinion, rather than objective analysis of fact, seems to permeate everything online or onscreen, from supposedly hardcore journalism to reality-based entertainment, a character who dispassionately analyzes evidence and deduces logical conclusions is a welcome change. The latest incarnation, called Sherlock, certainly provides a way of looking at the world far differently than through the emotional filters and ratings-grabbing sensationalism bombarding viewers 24/7. This Sherlock is more single-mindedly focused than the most dedicated member of CSI, and deftly solves the requisite mystery, but Sherlock, more than the typical whodunit, gives viewers more to figure out.

by Nathan Pensky

24 Nov 2010


The 1990-93 British television production of Jeeves and Wooster has a special kind of historical and formal unity. The show starred Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry, was compiled and adapted from P.G. Wodehouse’s stories about the 1930s London socialite, Bertie Wooster, and his all-knowing valet, Jeeves. Wodehouse’s “Jeeves stories”, much like the serialized novels of Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, have a narrative zing seemingly tailor-made for the television format. While they may not have actually inspired how radio and television took shape, they certainly seem like they did, with their episodic form, their light-hearted comedy, their circumstantial conflicts that right themselves with only minimal effort.

by Victor P. Corona

19 Nov 2010


Last week, Dr. Phil welcomed Kelly Cutrone, the habitually black-clad leader of People’s Revolution, the Manhattan-based public relations firm. Cutrone first entered the pop culture universe through appearances on MTV’s The Hills and as a mentor to Whitney Port on The City. Her own show on Bravo, Kell on Earth, featured Cutrone working with her People’s Revolution partners and clients and dealing with favor-seekers and clumsy interns. Through the brutally frank demeanor she displayed on these shows, Cutrone built a fiercely loyal following of young fans hoping to break into the fashion and public relations industries.

On his show, Dr. Phil invited Cutrone to confront two severely mollycoddled young women whose lavish lifestyles were bankrolled by their doting parents. The women’s delusions of impending stardom (one wears a golden tiara as an everyday accessory) were the most extreme examples of young people hoping to be lifted into the next wave of reality TV fame. After the showed aired, Cutrone notified her 92,000 Twitter followers that she had signed on to become a correspondent for Dr. Phil’s show, thereby infusing daytime television with her own brand of “truth-telling”, as an admiring Dr. Phil described her candor.

//Mixed media
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The Moving Pixels Podcast Becomes the 'Beholder'

// Moving Pixels

"It's easy to think that we would never be complicit with the dictates of an authoritarian regime, but Beholder reveals how complicated such choices can become.

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