Schedule for group presentations

Please double-check this schedule so you know when to turn up for your group presentation next week.
All presentations take place in Room 9.3.14.

ALSO, please note that it will be your responsibility to bring along any materials you wish to screen (Matt will not have copies). The classroom has a Blue-Ray/DVD player and, additionally you can plug in a laptop (via VGA connector).


Week 11 – Makeover TV

Here are this week’s notes – Week 11 Transformation Narratives.

Check the slide on requirements for next week’s second journal submission.
Don’t forget to hand in a completed assignment cover sheet – can be scanned and emailed to Matt, or brought to class on Friday (including the lecture) or put in the School assignment dropbox on level 4 (but do write NO WORK ATTACHED on it as well as Matt’s name).
AND JUST TO BE ABSOLUTELY CLEAR – you do not need to print out and submit hard copies of any blog posts, including the showcase posts.

Week 10 – Reality TV: Origins and Contexts

For this week’s blog entry:

What are some of the key defining features of ‘reality tv’ as a television genre?
Your entry must demonstrate some basic academic research (links to at least a couple of books and/or book chapters and/or journal articles).
Authors who have written on this topic and whom you might consult include (but are not limited to): Su Holmes; D. Jermyn; L. Ouellette and James Hay; John Corner; Frances Bonner; Tania Lewis; Mark Andrejevic; Annette Hill; Jane Roscoe.
You can discuss an example of a particular program to help articulate these features but your analysis must still be clearly supported by reference to the academic work.

This week’s lecture notes: Wk 10 – Reality TV Origins

Week 9 – The ‘Dispersal’ of Quality TV

Here are my presentation notes – Wk 9 notes.
For the related blog post you should write your own close textual analysis of a key narrative/storytelling aspect of the episode screened in class (e.g.about a character OR the setting OR the narrative organisation of the episode OR key theme OR particular scene OR combination of any of these). We watched Mad Men, Season 1 Ep 13 ‘The Wheel’.

Group presentations – episodes you can choose

Here is the full list of the episodes you choose from for your group presentation.

  1. The Wire: The Complete Third Season, Episode 1 ‘Time After Time’, AV 791.4572 W798
  2. Big Love: The Complete First Season, Episode 1, ‘Pilot’, 
AV 791.4572 B592
  3. Mad Men: The Complete First Season, Episode 13, ‘The Wheel’, 
AV 791.4572 M178
  4. Game of Thrones: The Complete First Season, Episode 1, ‘Winter is Coming’ 
AV 791.4572 G192
  5. The Office, Christmas Special Part 1, 
AV 791.4572 O32
  6. One Born Every Minute, Season 1, Episode 4, AV 618.40942 O584
  7. World’s Strictest Parents, Res. No. 119

All of these shows (with the exception noted below) are available on closed reserved (4 hour loan) at the RMIT library. It is possible to watch them there in a group meeting room which you will have to book.

Unfortunately the remaining library copy of Big Love (Season 1) has been damaged and has recently been sent out for repair. It won’t be back and available until after you return. If you wish to work on this program you will have to obtain a copy from a local video rental store or elsewhere.

I’ll have to double-check the episode number for One Born Every Minute as I don’t have the copy and information to hand right now.

Week 8 – Reinventing Genre

Here are today’s brief lecture notes – Wk 8 Reinventing Genre_Big Love

The ‘big picture’ question informing this week’s lecture is to do with the influences upon the emergence of what has been called ‘quality tv’ or ‘complex long-form narrative’. What elements, for example, are drawn from more established and conventional tv genres such as soap opera? Does there use in some of the more critically praised TV shows from the likes of producers such as HBO indicate a cultural sleight of hand going on in terms of a repackaging of what was formerly critcised as ‘bad’ or low value forms of cultural production and storytelling? And is it relevant that those more derided forms of ‘bad tv’ were primarily associated with predominantly female audiences?

For your blog entry due next Thursday:

  • What kind of show is Big Love?

Discuss this based on today’s screening of the pilot episode of the first season, and the final 30 minutes or so of the series finale (Season 5, Ep. 10).

In writing this post you should think about and make use of some of the interconnected television studies concepts that we have been referencing in this part of the course to describe/account for HBO shows: i.e. ‘quality tv’, ‘narrative complexity’, ‘genre’, ‘melodrama’/‘soap opera’, ‘seriality’.

In doing this you will find it useful to refer to key arguments in some of the following writings (part of the work for you to here is to scan through and identity useful/provocative arguments and observations):

Michael Kackman, 2010, ‘Quality Television, Melodrama and Cultural Complexity’

Jason Mittel, 2009, ‘More thoughts on soap operas and television seriality’,

Week 7 – Narrative complexity, genre and the tv industry

We start looking at our first of two case studies this week. We’ll spend three weeks on each of  these. First cab off the rank is what I’ve awkwardly called ‘Complex long form narrative and “Quality TV”‘. Partly that awkwardness reflects the far-from-settled debates scholars and other commentators have been having about what has been happening to television’s way of storytelling over the past couple of decades. One of the key issues and recurring themes in those debates is what Jason Mittell describes as the present era of television complexity. He’s talking about the kind of narrative complexity that is central to a number of shows – such as the long-form drama associated with HBO. He has written an excellent background article on the topic, with lots of helpful examples, that you can download here. As Mittell points out, it isn’t the case that these narratively complex shows outnumber more conventional sitcoms and dramas in terms of current television … but perhaps they are worth focusing on because they have been the site of a sustained form of narrative experimentation with television storytelling form over the past couple of decades. In this sense they stand out as an interesting challenge to the norms of what the medium can do/has typically done.

At the same time the debate about narrative complexity has another interesting angle in that these kinds of shows are often associated or labelled as a form of ‘quality tv’ (a tricky term that I’ll unpack in tomorrow’s lecture). One thing that is telling about the notion of ‘quality tv’ is that it could be argued to operates as a kind of genre (think about the idea of the ‘arthouse film’ in cinema). Genre is going to be a key term for us in this latter part of the course so we’ll spend some time discussing what it is and how it works in relation to television. And, of course, the question of taste and the taste cultures that form around certain forms of television programming are also in the mix here …

For your blog entry due next Thursday I’d like you to write a response to the Mittell article linked to here. Identify some (not necessarily ALL) of the key points in his article – put in to YOUR OWN WORDS – and where relevant make some links to examples that occur to you (and which might exemplify and/or contradict aspects of his argument).

Here are the lecture notes – Wk 7 Quality TV.