Sunday, 21 February 2010

Small Screen Summative Blog

I have to admit, before starting at the Academy my TV watching had fallen by the wayside quite a bit. I was never reeeaaally much of a TV-watcher, since I only had Freeview and Lord knows that's mostly just endless repeats. I'd maybe only put the telly on when I came in from work, as a flickering buzz in the corner of the room, that I could fall asleep to. The only thing I really watched was boxsets; I never missed an episode when I had it on DVD to peruse in my own time.
Still, I was eager to learn more about the 'box of lights and wires' in the corner of my room. Throughout the Small Screen module we covered pretty much every popular genre of television, from soaps to comedy to the omnipresent 'reality show'. We were introduced to a huge variety of shows like The Shield to The Street, neither of which I'd probably have watched of my own accord. I'd have probably written off The Shield as just another US crime show- not being a fan of CSI and its ilk, I wasn't especially stoked at the prospect but found it really enthralling. Simple things like the use of abrupt edits and unorthodox characters made it a far more interesting prospect- like Andy said, there's no 'goodies vs. baddies', this was 'baddies vs. worsies'... It made the characters less cliched and added another layer to the tired old cop show.

I also really enjoyed having to come up with our own game show... It was actually alot more difficult to come up with something fresh, considering the format has been around for as long as the medium. Just about every channel has its own form of game show, whether it be a 'Q&A' type show or newer comedy panel show. Ours became some sort of labyrinthine Alcatraz crossed with Funhouse...sounds bizarre, yeah, but just you wait... we wanted to use real prison wardens and everything. Now THAT'S realism...!

Despite the seemingly huge variety of genres (or formats) on TV, we learned that they can all be broken down to almost mathematical formula. The sitcom, we learned, was the 'king of formulas'. The template for which was laid down by Lucille Ball and the I Love Lucy show, which I'd heard of but never watched. After watching an episode I really couldn't see much difference between the gags and character types in the first episode (from 1951), and modern sitcoms like Two and a Half God Awful Men. It's interesting to see how much and how little a medium has progressed over the last 50/60 years, and learning the formulaic basis really makes it easier when it comes down to writing ideas of our own. As we found out, all the rules have been laid out for us- all we have to do is make it original. Nice and simple then....?!?!

Overall, then, I've come a long way from using my TV as a flashing, mumbling nightlight. Throughout the duration of the module I've learned about a broad spectrum of shows and genres I'd probably never have been exposed to otherwise. I found our potted history through the history of television to be alot more interesting than I'd have thought- and was impressed that after all this time it still possesses the ability to 'inform, educate and entertain'.

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