no. 19 | Fall 2012
European TV Series
Séries TV Européennes
Edited by / Sous la direction de Alice Autelitano and/et Veronica Innocenti
- Nicolas Le Floch, un bon produit « à l’export» ? réflections sur la diffusion et la réception internazionale d’une série historique (très) française
- Whodonit? Rai Tv Fiction Production Between Detection and Giallo
- Nordic Noir on Television: The Killing I-III
- La Notion de qualité télévisuelle dans la production fictionnelle britannique
- There’s Nothing Like an English Summer, Is There? Except an English Winter. Downtone Abbey, a British Cult Tv Series and Its Fandom
- Imitation, Borrowing, Recycling, American Models and Polish Domestic Drama
- Turkish Television Dramas: The Economy and Beyond
Cem Pekman, Selin Tüzün
- The Production of Tv Fiction Adaptations in Spain (1950-2012)
Patricia Diego, María de Mar Grandío
- Image, Space, and the Contemporary Filmic Experience
Miriam De Rosa
PROJECTS & ABSTRACTS
- Nicolas Appelt / Ph.D. Thesis Project
Université de Lausanne
- Paola Brembilla / Ph.D. Thesis Project
Università di Bologna
- Jean-Marie Cherubini / Ph.D. Thesis Project
Université de Lausanne
- Elena Gipponi / Ph.D. Thesis Abstract
Libera Università di Lingue e Comunicazione IULM, Milano
- Delphine Wehrli / Ph.D. Thesis Project
Université de Lausanne
REVIEWS / COMPTES-RENDUS
ABSTRACTS | CONTENTS / TABLE DES MATIÈRES
Nicolas Le Floch, un bon produit « à l’export» ? réflections sur la diffusion et la réception internazionale d’une série historique (très) française
Are historical series strongly influenced by cultural references shared by the community of their intended viewers easily exportable TV products outside the borders of their original “media landscape?” The success obtained in France by made-for TV movies and series in the tradition of British “heritage film” might suggest so. However what about a series like Nicolas Le Floch, deeply rooted in French history and culture? This historical series, which narrates the investigations of a police superintendent in the France of Louis XV and Louis XVI, is similar in many respects to the genre of “heritage fiction:” sets and costumes are lavish, dialogues carefully written in a language reminiscent of the Age of Enlightenment. However, this quality series, where narrative efficiency is sometimes sacrificed to a finicky historical reconstruction, is exported to quite a number of countries abroad. Its few concessions to international standards or generic plasticity do not explain everything: it is precisely the French touch that appeals to spectators beyond national borders, as it depicts – certainly somewhat simplistically – the charm of 18th-century France as shared by collective imagination: luxury, voluptuousness and art of conversation. This is the paradox of a fiction which yet remains “heritage” at heart.
Whodonit? Rai Tv Fiction Production Between Detection and Giallo
Italian TV serial production is interesting not only in its peculiar, often paradoxical, production traits, but also because of its adventurously happy results, sometimes due to creative constraints by claustrophobic Italian television market. TV series have a physiognomy and an “Italianness” also evident in their language, since they show distinctive characteristics in terms of modes of representation and communicative pacts, in which to settle a whole television history and visual culture. This essay begins to outline this aspect from a particular vantage point: that of detective and crime series, whose history is deeply rooted in Italian culture and whose dominant traits are so different from most recent European TV series. Far from being a sign of recession, RAI public service broadcasting – in which Il commissario Montalbano naturally represents a relevant case – reveals the persistence of specific and well embedded traits, albeit evolved over time (a particular dynamic between opening and closure; an overwhelming and static narrative; a parataxis and accumulation of criminal performances, which closes continuously narrative development around the circle of the crime; a urban and landscape component which provokes and creates diversions, etc.). These traits are rooted and shaped in Italian culture, starting from the privileged relationship never exhausted with its literary matrix, but also from the complex and typically Italian interconnection in cultural and media domains created by giallo.
Nordic Noir on Television: The Killing I-III
The Nordic Noir has been applied by many countries as a slightly distorting mirror of tendencies in their own societies. On the background of its international appeal, the article analyses the prevalent genre of The Killing – the thriller – and relates it to the genres of crime fiction, political drama and melodrama. The elements of the noir design in the introductory sequences – their common traits and the differences that match prevalent plots in each season – are highlighted. The developments taking place in the dominant points of view are traced, from the combination between the local politics and the domestic levels in the first season of the series, to the focus on foreign politics with domestic dimensions in the second season, and the reversion to domestic politics, this time combined to a global dimension, in the last season. Similarities and differences in the plots, and their relationship to (and interpretation of) events and phenomena in the modern Danish welfare state and in the Western sphere, are also investigated.
La Notion de qualité télévisuelle dans la production fictionnelle britannique
This essay explores the notion of Quality TV, as it has been applied to British TV fiction. The quality of British TV fiction has often been associated with teleplays, adaptations and the movement of social realism. Through a study of TV productions, of the discourses of scholars and critics, and a comparison with the concept of American Quality TV, this article highlights some of the relevant criteria of Quality TV in the UK, most notably the educational, ethical or realist dimension of the programs and their visual sobriety. This particular definition of quality can be explained in part by the original public service mandate of the TV industry in the UK, similar to most European countries. The article ends with a study of contemporary discourses about Quality TV in the UK. Nowadays, there seems to be an important tension between a traditional conception of Quality TV and a newer one, which is more in line with the American model and is usually associated to cinematic and expensive TV series. This short study of fictional Quality TV underlines the evolutionary nature of the concept of quality and raises questions about the future of TV production in the United Kingdom.
There’s Nothing Like an English Summer, Is There? Except an English Winter. Downtone Abbey, a British Cult Tv Series and Its Fandom
The British TV show Downton Abbey is a significant case – with its unprecedented and unexpected worldwide success – in a more general evaluation of the contemporary media environment, and of European TV productions in particular. This article explores the Downton Abbey “phenomenon” through a survey of its fans’ online activities. The first introductory part of this essay focuses on the concept of Cult TV Show and its possible application to this peculiar product. The second part extensively discusses Downton Abbey fans’ online activities, monitored from August to September 2012. This part is focused on five different factors of the series identified as those that mainly raised the interest and approval of the fans. Finally, the last part of this article draws some conclusions about the global nature of Downton Abbey fandom and about the series status as “mainstream cult.”
Imitation, Borrowing, Recycling, American Models and Polish Domestic Drama
The history of post-1989 Polish serialized fiction falls into two periods. The first, from the 1990s to the mid-2000s, was characterized by heavy American imports. The second, from the mid-2000s up to 2012, is characterized by the gradual disappearance of American productions from the prime time schedules of Polish terrestrial broadcasters, as they turned to domestic products. Despite an increasing self-sufficiency in generating original television fiction content and the erosion of the hegemony of American imports on Poland’s TV screens, American programming still plays an important role in shaping Poland’s television industry and the fiction programming it produces. This article explores the impact of American programming on the Polish television market in terms of genres of domestic fiction, their narrative conventions and aesthetic qualities. American television, however, is not just mechanically transplanted, as Polish producers adjust foreign ideas to local structures of feeling. The genres that Polish broadcasters produce, as well as the narrative strategies and aesthetic canons of the domestic shows, become a site of negotiation between the American influence and the domestic Polish televisual culture. This article not only explores the myriad ways in which Poland’s television professionals borrow iconic elements of American television culture and its programming ideas, but it also illuminates how those foreign elements are transformed into the Polish context.
Turkish Television Dramas: The Economy and Beyond
Cem Pekman, Selin Tüzün
Following the break-up of the state monopoly on audiovisual media in Turkey in 1990, the commercial television industry quickly became aware of the audience’s demand for domestic productions and home-made dramas. Throughout the 2000s, a television drama sector emerged, supplying a substantial amount of dramas not only to the domestic market, but also to a regional audience in the Middle East, Central Asia and Balkan countries. Although the lively market fosters an expanding “drama economy,” it still has some structural problems and weaknesses. Yet, the actors of the sector and the authorities are becoming more aware of what the market promises, culturally and politically, in addition to its economic value. Now, the drama industry is often assessed in terms of its “geo-cultural” significance or “soft-power.” Big producers even argue that the sector has become a global actor competing with Hollywood and Bollywood. It is a fact that Turkish dramas affect masses in neighbouring regions, reinforcing the “image” of the country and stimulating regional tourism. However, the claim that Turkish drama industry has become a competitive power in the international media market needs further and thorough research.
The Production of Tv Fiction Adaptations in Spain (1950-2012)
Patricia Diego, María de Mar Grandío
The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the most significant TV adaptations in Spain from 1956 to 2012. First of all, the following article comprises a brief overview of a number of the most significant fiction adaptations produced by the public television network TVE, rounded out with a more in-depth account of the TV adaptations developed from the 1990s onwards, when commercial television networks, such as Antena 3 and Tele 5, entered the audiovisual market. Recently, the adaptation of TV series based on foreign programmes has become widespread in Spain. One special category encompasses programmes adapted to the Spanish television market from foreign series formats (US, Latin America and Europe). Television networks and production companies turn to such major television markets in order to identify successful series and formats that may be remade into the buyer’s context.
Image, Space, and the Contemporary Filmic Experience
Miriam De Rosa
The article tackles the current debate dealing with the possibilities of expansion of contemporary cinema, trying to provide theoretical tools in order to build a framework, which takes into account the delicate relationship between space, image, and cinematic experience. Based on the background of researches devoted to cinema’s medium-specificity, the author identifies some possible contribution from Cultural, Media and Visual Studies, with the aim of formalizing some key-concept for the study of contemporary “cinematic forms”.
CONTRIBUTORS / COLLABORATEURS | CONTENTS / TABLE DES MATIÈRES
CONTRIBUTORS / COLLABORATEURS
Gunhild Agger, Ph.D., is Professor at Aalborg University, Denmark. She has been the Director of the collaborative, cross-disciplinary research programme Crime Fiction and Crime Journalism in Scandinavia (2007-2010). Her current research areas include: history of media and genre, television drama, national and transnational film, bestsellers and blockbusters. Among her recent books: Dansk tv-drama (2005) and Mord til tiden – forbrydelse, historie og mediekultur (2013).
Alice Autelitano is editor at the Cineteca di Bologna. She holds a Ph.D. in Audiovisual Studies at the University of Udine. She has edited The Five Senses of Cinema (with V. Innocenti and V. Re, 2005), Narrating the Film. Novelization: From the Catalogue to the Trailer (with V. Re, 2006), and The Cinematic Experience. Film, Contemporary Art, Museum (2010). She has published Cronosismi. Il tempo nel cinema contemporaneo (2006), Il cinema infranto. Intertestualità, intermedialità e forme narrative nel film a episodi italiano (1961-1976) (2011), and essays on journals and books.
Stéfany Boisvert is a Ph.D. candidate in communication (Joint Doctorate in Communication) at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). She is currently working on different research projects about television and cinema. Her doctoral research is focused on the representation of masculinities in contemporary TV fictions (SSHRC scholarship). She was the editor of a special issue of the journal COMMposite: « L’identité culturelle dans les fictions audiovisuelles contemporaines » (vol. 15, n°1, 2012).
María del Mar Grandío, is currently Associate Professor at the Catholic University of Murcia, Spain, where she teaches Audiovisual Programming and Advertising. Her main research interests are television and entertainment, with a special focus on television fiction and audiences. Currently, she is working on a research on television fiction and new platforms, crossmedia production and audience involvement.
Patricia Diego is Professor of TV Drama Production and TV Programming at the School of Communication, University of Navarra (Spain). She earned a Ph.D. with a thesis entitled Production of TV fiction in Spain (1990-2002). History, industry and market, that received the Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Award. She has been Visiting Researcher at University of Westminster and has published several articles about TV production in Spain in books and journals.
Miriam De Rosa earned her Ph.D. at the Catholic University of Milan in 2011. The article included in this volume refers to her research focusing on contemporary forms of cinema, with particular regard to the relationship among subject, space and filmic device. Objects of her studies range from visual arts to media platforms and live cinema performances. She is the author of diverse essays collected in Italian and international anthologies, and of the volume Cinema e postmedia. I territori del filmico nel contemporaneo (2013). She currently holds the seminar in Audiovisual Cultures at the Catholic University of Milan, where she also collaborates as assistant lecturer for the classes of Communication Pragmatics and Cultural History of Audiovisual Media. She is also a member of NECS and editor of Screencity project (www.screen-city.net).
Veronica Innocenti is Assistant Professor at the University of Bologna, where she teaches History of Broadcasting and Film Marketing. She holds a Ph.D. in Film studies from University of Bologna. She has been a visiting scholar at UCLA and a speaker to several national and international conferences (among others, University of Lugano, University of Glasgow, University of Huddersfield, University of Nottingham). She has been the organizer of the international conferences Media Mutations 3 and 4, dedicated to narrative ecosystems. She is author of several publications, including books, books chapters and articles. She co-authored, with Guglielmo Pescatore, a book on television serial narratives: Le nuove forme della serialità televisiva. Storia, linguaggio e temi (2008).
Bernard Papin is Maître de conférences at the Université Paris-Sud, and a member of the CEISME-CIM research team at Université Paris 3 – Sorbonne Nouvelle. His work focuses on television fiction and the regulation of television pictures. He leads a working group on the representations of the Enlightenment on television. He has been the editor of the collection of essays Images du Siècle des Lumières à la télévision. Construction d’une culture commune par la fiction (2010).
Cem Pekman is Professor at the Communications Faculty of Kocaeli University, Department of Advertising. He lectures on broadcasting history, history of film and animation, broadcasting systems and media policies. He is author/editor of the books, Private Television: The Transformation Process of European Broadcasting, The Music of Image, The Image of Music, and Ertem Eğilmez: A Film Man. His articles are mainly on broadcasting history and policy in Turkey and Europe, film and music, advertising and product placement.
Sylwia Szostak is a Ph.D. candidate in the University of Nottingham’s Department of Culture, Film and Media. Her research examines the impact of international media flows on Polish television in the post-Soviet era, with particular attention to the influence of American fiction television. She has chapters in Timothy Havens, Anikó Imre, Katalin Lustyik (eds.), Popular Television in Eastern Europe During and Since Socialism (2012) and in Laura Mee, Johnny Walker (eds.), Rethinking Cinema and Television History: Contemporary Approaches and Critical Perspectives (in press). She has also published an article in The Journal of European Television History and Culture.
Lucia Tralli is a Ph.D. candidate in Film Studies at the University of Bologna. Her main research focus is on the re-use of media images in audiovisual productions. She received her MA with a thesis about the practice of found footage in relation to the work of two contemporary women filmmakers. She is now conducting a research on contemporary forms of audiovisual remixes, especially focusing on fan vidding and gender related issues in remix practices.
Selin Tüzün is a Research Assistant at Marmara University in Istanbul, Faculty of Communications, Department of Radio-TV and Cinema. She completed her Master thesis at the Communication Faculty of Galatasaray University and received her Ph.D. from the Radio-TV program of Marmara University in 2011. Her work is mainly focused on Turkish film and TV industry.
Paola Valentini is Associate Professor at the University of Florence, where she teaches Film History and History of Broadcasting. Her research is focused both on television (leading attention to historic, cultural and philological analysis of television texts) and on cinema, particularly on sound film in Italian cinema and media interactions between 1930s and 1970s. She wrote Il suono nel cinema. Storia, teoria e tecniche (2006), Presenze sonore. Il passaggio al cinema sonoro in Italia tra cinema e radio (2007) and a forthcoming book on Italian game and quiz shows (2013).