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TV Narratives - stories. TV shows - for all their seeming reality - are actually more like slices than the whole cake. (Jeremy Butler) To understand television narrative, we must look beyond the appearance of reality that the medium promotes and understand the recipe that created that reality.

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tv narratives stories
TV Narratives - stories
  • TV shows - for all their seeming reality - are actually more like slices than the whole cake. (Jeremy Butler)
  • To understand television narrative, we must look beyond the appearance of reality that the medium promotes and understand the recipe that created that reality
tv narratives
TV Narratives
  • Television gains its heritage from both the theater and from cinema.
  • With the advent of sound in film, cinema settled into a certain way of constructing stories as well as a conventional style of editing together the visual and aural components to tell the story (Hollywood Classicism)
tv narratives1
TV Narratives
  • What binds together films like Casablanca, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and the Blues Brothers are seven basic components of the classical narrative structure.
  • This structure defines how the story is told
tv narratives2
TV Narratives
  • The single protagonist - the central character and the story revolves around this central character.
  • Filmmakers believe that this facilities the viewer’s identification with the character and streamlines the narrative action
  • Sometimes a group can act as one for story development (Star Wars, Ghostbusters)
tv narratives3
TV Narratives
  • Exposition - construction of the protagonists character takes place during exposition
    • Introduces the character’s persona (personality)
    • Illustrates the environment the characters inhabit
  • Movies often start in the middle of the action and then explain who the characters are later (Raiders and Goldfinger)
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TV Narratives
  • Motivation - in any classical story something must catalyze the events. The action must have motivation.
  • The single protagonist is re-emphasized by the desire of that character. (Raiders - Indy’s desire to acquire the Ark. Bond - is it revenge for the death of the girl or is it survival)
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TV Narratives
  • Narrative Enigma - Early in a film a question is asked (implicitly or explicitly)
    • Raiders - Will Indy find the Ark and prevent the Nazis from using it?
  • The enigma cannot be solved readily or there would be no story
  • There is often a character (antagonist) who blocks fulfillment of the protagonist’s desire.
    • Conflict delays the resolution of the enigma
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TV Narratives
  • Cause-Effect Chain - Once exposition has established the characters and their spaces, the protagonist’s desire begins a series of events that are linked to one another and occur over time.
    • Raider’s the Government visit starts the search for Marion which causes him to become reinvolved with her. This in turn causes them to go to Cairo, which leads to the battle with Nazis
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TV Narratives
  • Cause - Effect Narrative Chain

Scene A

Causes---> Scene B

AnEffect of A----> Scene C

An Effect of A & B ---> Scene D

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TV Narratives
  • Screen time is shorter than story time (very few films last as long as the event - 24 is an exception)
  • There are instances when screen time is longer than the event (slowmotion and multiple angles)
  • The order of the screen time can be manipulated to change the temporal order (flashbacks and flashforwards, for example)
  • Increasing intensity of events as the engima’s resolution is delayed
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TV Narratives
  • Climax - at the film’s climax the narrative conflict culminates - necessitating a resolution
    • In Raider’s the climax between Indy and Belloq peaks as Indy and Marion are tied to a stake while Belloq and the Nazis open the Ark
  • Climaxes are the most concentrated moment of the narrative conflict, not necessarily the end of the story
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TV Narratives
  • Resolution or denouement - Up to the point of resolution, the enigmas have been consistently delayed and as a result there is a rising action in the storyline.
  • In the resolution the enigmas are solved and the narrative action (conflict) declines
    • Raiders - we see the Ark being stored in an anonymous crate in a huge warehouse
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TV Narratives
  • Narrative Aperature - this is when the narrative concludes without answering its questions or resolving all of the conflict.
    • Some films provide us with classical conventions and then tantalize us with an ambiguous finish.
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TV Narratives
  • The transition from film to television can have an impact on the classical narrative structure
    • Movies may be cut to fit into time constraints
    • Movies may be cut to fit audience timeslots (most R rated movies are re-edited for TV)
    • Movies may be resized to fit the TV screen
    • Movies are usually interrupted with commercial breaks and that changes the pacing of the movie
  • The distortion of the narrative can have a negative impact on the storyline