Television

Girls and the Jump to Judge

I’d decided not to write about the pilot of Girls, the new HBO show that has either been hailed as the channel’s great comedy hope, or a crime against humanity (or maybe some middleground somewhere too). But after reading a lot of the criticism and commentary, and getting into at least four lengthy conversations on Twitter about it, I figured I’d assemble some thoughts to join in the fray beyond 140 characters. ... read more »

Justifying David Simon

Last week, the TV-themed corners of the Internets were all atwitter around a pair of interviews David Simon gave, first to The New York Times, then to Alan Sepinwall at HitFix. ... read more »

Complex TV: Beginnings

I have decided to use my blog here in tandem with the site for Complex TV to offer context & references for each chapter as I release them this spring/summer. I hope this is useful in both promoting readership, and making it transparent how this book is coming together out of earlier pieces and new analyses. ... read more »

Complex TV Launches!

I am pleased to announce the launch of my book Complex TV: The Poetics of Contemporary Television Storytelling. As I’ve written previously, I am a firm believer in open-access publishing and experimenting with new forms of peer review and digital publishing. ... read more »

Awake teaches us how to watch and accept

One of the main jobs of any television pilot is to teach us how to watch the series yet to come. In large part, that means establishing the key elements of the narrative: the setting, the characters, the genre, the relationships. In complex narratives, that also means setting up the storytelling hook, especially where there’s a supernatural element, an overriding mystery, or otherwise a “high concept” gimmick to make the show stand out as distinct. ... read more »

No, The Sopranos Didn’t Ruin Television

Over the past day, the internet – well, at least the corner of the internet that chatters and Twitters about television – blew up around Ryan McGee’s essay on The A.V. Club, provocatively titled “Did The Sopranos do more harm than good?: HBO and the decline of the episode.” It’s a must-read for people who are interested in television’s narrative structure, raising many crucial points and ideas, but coming to precisely the wrong conclusions. ... read more »

I made a remix!, or The Wire Gets Vertigo-ed

Recently there has been a debate raging within the film world around The Artist‘s appropriation of Bernard Hermann’s score to Vertigo (which itself appropriates Wagner), and Kim Novak’s poorly-worded attack on this act of cultural borrowing. ... read more »

Best TV of 2011

Being in Germany since August, I feel quite detached from American television, even though that’s what I’m here to write and talk about. I’ve found ways to access the shows that I’m missing, but without the ease of my TiVo and the television schedule matching my timezone, I’m definitely watching less, and therefore more selectively. So as I approach my annual list of top programs, I feel like I’m mirroring critical consensus in large part because I’m only seeking out newer shows that critics I trust recommend, rather than sampling widely and carving my own path. ... read more »

The Qualities of Complexity: Aesthetic Evaluation in Contemporary ...

This is a busy week for the Popular Seriality group I’m working with here in Göttingen. First, we took over In Media Res for a series of posts about seriality – my own contribution was on Wednesday, focused on Breaking Bad and how it constructs character interiority through serial memory. Head over and join the conversation! ... read more »

Legitimating Television: An Unofficial Book Review

One of the great gifts of sabbatical is having the time to read books that are not immediately required for teaching or manuscript reviews. I’ve taken advantage of that by reading some fiction (and would highly recommend D.B. Weiss’s Lucky Wander Boy if you’re into classic videogames and/or metafiction), as well as some scholarship. ... read more »