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Crime Dramas


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TV Drama - genre case studies

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Crime Dramas

  1. 1. Crime dramas To understand the conventions of crime drama
  2. 2. Crime dramas <ul><li>Crime drama is one of the most enduring, popular genres, not just on TV but also novels, films and theatre. </li></ul><ul><li>Its engaging narrative offers a space for debates about policing, criminality, gender, race and social and cultural values. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Crime dramas <ul><li>There are two kinds of TV crime drama, with important distinctions between them. One-off crime dramas tend to focus on the kinds of crime that create the most anxiety among the viewing public. </li></ul><ul><li>E.g. Murder and serial killing. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Crime dramas <ul><li>They are distinguished by which aspects of law enforcement they focus on, for example a police inspector, a team of detectives, a psychologist or a lawyer. </li></ul><ul><li>Long running TV crime dramas will have a variety of sub-plots over time that help build relationships between characters. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Key elements of Crime dramas <ul><li>The following are key elements of the genre all of which can be seen as contributing to audience pleasures of watching crime dramas: </li></ul><ul><li>Resolution to a mystery </li></ul><ul><li>Question of morality </li></ul><ul><li>Debates about innocent and guilt </li></ul>
  6. 6. Key elements of Crime dramas <ul><li>Verisimilitude- audience can recognise the representations of ‘ordinary’ people in everyday environment </li></ul><ul><li>Power struggles between divisions of the police; government and the police and the judiciary system and the police </li></ul>
  7. 7. Crime dramas <ul><li>Teamwork and pleasure in success </li></ul><ul><li>Conflict between different modes of policing </li></ul><ul><li>Father/son relationship between experiences detective and sidekick </li></ul><ul><li>Struggles with bureaucracy </li></ul>
  8. 8. Crime dramas <ul><li>Sacrifices in private lives made by dedicated police </li></ul><ul><li>Different characteristics of villainy. </li></ul><ul><li>Task </li></ul><ul><li>Think of four crime drama and work out which of the elements we have just discussed and identify which ones are used by that particular drama. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Crime dramas <ul><li>Crime drama range from focuing on police in uniforms, private detectives, women investigators, to those focusing on the criminal themselves. </li></ul><ul><li>Sub genres can be categorised as follows: </li></ul><ul><li>Spy thrillers- </li></ul><ul><li>Spooks, Spy </li></ul>
  10. 10. Crime dramas <ul><li>Criminal centre stage- </li></ul><ul><li>Minder, Hustle </li></ul><ul><li>Investigative detective and sidekick stories- </li></ul><ul><li>Midsomer murders, A touch of Frost </li></ul><ul><li>Women investigators- </li></ul><ul><li>Prime suspect, Rosemary and Thyme </li></ul>
  11. 11. Crime dramas <ul><li>Cold case narratives- </li></ul><ul><li>Waking the Dead </li></ul><ul><li>Specialist criminologists- </li></ul><ul><li>Cracker, Silent witness </li></ul><ul><li>Courtroom narratives- </li></ul><ul><li>Judge John Deed </li></ul><ul><li>Police Soap series- </li></ul><ul><li>The Bill </li></ul><ul><li>There are some Crime Dramas that are mixture of subgenres such as Jonathan Creek which is also classed as comedy. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Crime dramas <ul><li>Crime dramas tend to be a male orientated genre. </li></ul><ul><li>Although there are a few acceptions, Helen Mirren in Prime suspect being one of them. </li></ul><ul><li>Why is this? Is it because it appeals to the dominant male audience? Or is it being stereotypical of the male role of the police? </li></ul><ul><li>Prime suspect main character Inspector Tennison usually involved failed relationships so that her character takes on traits of a male detective from TV drama. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Crime dramas <ul><li>Corruption and betrayal are common in today’s crime series. There is an increasing polarisation today between the series that present shocking images, often in the form of still photographs taken at the scene of the crime or in reconstructions of the event, and those whose retain a more ‘rosy cosy, glow’. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Crime dramas <ul><li>Dramas such as Prime Suspect and Waking the dead have resorted in using even more graphics, gruesome depictions of killings and torture, others, like Inspector Morse and Midsomer murders have moved away from this, offering the audiences the pleasure of observing the slow solution to the mystery from the perspective of a comfortable safety zone. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Crime dramas- Midsomer murders <ul><li>Midsomer murders fits into the detective and sidekick genre that was most successful with Morse. </li></ul><ul><li>Midsomer murders like Morse and Poirot deals with murder in a ‘civilised’ environment. </li></ul><ul><li>Detective Chief Inspector is unusual in the fact that he has three Detective Sergeants as sidekicks and manages throughout the series to maintain a stable, happy family life unlike Inspector Morse or Prime Suspect. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Crime dramas- Life on Mars <ul><li>This programme is an unusual hybrid of time travel, science fiction and crime drama. </li></ul><ul><li>The central concept is Detective Inspector Sam Tyler who is from present day Manchester wakes up in 1973. </li></ul><ul><li>This programme was a new twist to crime drama as one suggestion Tyler may be in a coma in 2006 imagining his experiences. This innovation is one of the reasons for the success of the series. The audience is uncertain whether Tyler may really be in from 1973 or having visions or if he has travelled back in time. </li></ul><ul><li>This was not a typical crime drama series as it showed how the 1970s were very politically incorrect as it looked at sexism, racism, homophobia, police brutality. This politically incorrectness was one of the main themes that ran through the series as Sam Tyler regularly clashed with DCI Gene Hunt. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Activity <ul><li>Make up your own crime drama </li></ul><ul><li>Discuss the characters, mise en scene, plot line. </li></ul><ul><li>Outline an episode. </li></ul>