Tele-Vision Seeing Greatness
Television is rapidly making good on the threat of being a 500-channel universe. There are now more channels and more content than ever before. Although there has always been a glut of terrible fare and the percentage of new series getting canceled has inched past 80 percent, quality series can still be found. But while the different between "mediocre" and "good" might not be that wide, there's an enormous gulf between "good" and "great." How does brilliant television get made? What are the elements in play that writers, directors and actors use to make a lasting impression on the medium, that is, to create a visual work of art? In this class, we'll narrow the focus of critical analysis by following a small number of series from the start to finish of a season to chart the creative achievements in each. We?ll talk with people in the television industry who are making the content or running the networks or cable channels where the series appear, so students will have an opportunity to get first-hand knowledge of the creative process and ask questions directly of the people who green-light and create scripted series for television. Active participation in class discussion and in-depth written critical analysis both of the form and content of the shows under consideration and of essays/articles about television is expected.