Complex TV: Beginnings
by Jason Mittell — Middlebury College
April 09, 2012 – 06:50
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. So today I have posted my first chapter in the topical section of the book, aptly entitled “Beginnings.” These chapters can be read in any order, but you should read the “Introduction” & core “Complexity in Context” chapter before the individual topical sections to establish the main approach and vocabulary I’ll be using throughout. Here’s the abstract of “Beginnings”:
Although long-form television serials are notably marked by their potentially eternal narrative middles, they all must start somewhere; this chapter explores how serials are launched with television pilots, considering the core functions of pilots as setting up the direction of a serial’s narrative thrust, teaching viewers how to watch the ongoing narrative, and inspiring them to commit to ongoing serialized consumption. The chapter uses a detailed case study of the Veronica Mars pilot to demonstrate how serials establish intrinsic norms for ongoing narratives, with references to strategies found in pilots of Twin Peaks, Arrested Development, Alias, Awake, How I Met Your Mother, Pushing Daisies, and Terriers.
This chapter reworks an older piece of mine about the Veronica Mars pilot, that had been drafted for an anthology but I pulled from print in order to maintain its open access here (as I described previously). I have also incorporated my previously-posted thoughts on Awake‘s pilot, while updating both of these pieces to account for some new ideas and vocabulary for describing pilots and their strategies. Since I talk at length about the Veronica Mars pilot’s opening scene, here it is for your viewing pleasure:
As always, I invite feedback on the MediaCommons Press site – and even though I’m serializing the release of chapters, I’m still carrying on conversations in the margins of every chapter, so feel free to catch up whenever you can!
Filed under: Books, Complex TV, Media Studies, MediaCommons, Narrative, Television, TV Shows Tagged: alias, Arrested Development, awake, how i met your mother, pushing daisies, terriers, Twin Peaks, Veronica Mars
Mon, 09 Apr 2012 11:50:46 +0000