Bryan Fuller’s decision to bet on a pictorial approach to image in Hannibal (NBC, 2013-2015) is not a petty choice. It is an essential part, which turn this piece of fiction into what it really is: the poisonous narration of a seductive cannibal. The way in which the ice cubes fall into the glass of whisky that Roger Sterling prepares for Don Draper after the 'It’s toasted' moment in Mad Men (AMC, 2007-2015) is not something fortuitous, in fact it makes the viewer a part of that victory to the point of feeling as a co-creator of that idea. The fact that the animation style in Archer (FX, 2010-) has a direct impact on the complexity of its comedy sequences is not a result of circumstances, on the contrary, it is precisely what allows to set off funny scenarios in a live action sit-com rhythm.
These are some examples of the nuclear importance of aesthetics and style in television series. Although critical film literature has been immensely concerned about the importance of style in film–an element which doubtlessly shape one of the precious sides of some of the most important gems of the history of the seventh art–in most academic studies concerning this Third Golden Age series we miss this kind of approach. If certainly some of the most important series of our time stand out because of their dramatic complexity or the elaboration of the authorial concept they carry on (among other aspects of vital interest), style issues are not one of the most written about, and when they are tackled it is always from a strictly formalistic point of view.
Jason Jacobs y Steven Peacock, acknowledging this lack, present us in Television Aesthetics and Style a collection of essays concerning this subject, reflections around different contemporary television fictions focusing on aesthetics–an element they doubtlessly see as fundamental. The editors of this text articulate in four parts the almost thirty interventions and the different questions set out by the notion of style on television, based on the different television genres–something specially valuable since it permits readers to have a complete panorama.
In the first part, conceptual issues are tackled, from stylistic analysis and what lies within it, including the dangers of letting these kind of issues aside, to the most suitable use of the fittest nomenclature to use in television aesthetic analysis–what do we mean with cinematic? Is it legitimate to talk about aesthetics in television?–in texts as interesting as those by Jason Mittell and Sarah Cardwell. This first section is especially interesting because it is where important questions around starting concepts for the study of this area are discussed, basic approaches to legitimate the research and to generate an interesting academic debate.
The approach of this volume stands out for its choice of not working exclusively with American-produced big hits, but also with British TV. This book also presents an important corpus of chapters signed by some of the most renowned contemporary researchers on television studies, and we must underline the passion for the subject sensed in each text, judiciously analyzing and justifying their statements from a formal view and an academic rigour.
In conclusion it is a very necessary book for the study of television fiction works, outlined from a respectful stand towards the formalistic tradition of previous studies but openly working in a line of research–television aesthetics–that has been already accused in several occasions of being a pre-structuralist danger. The good work practices of the editors and participating writers solve every doubt in an arena, the aesthetics and its use in television series, still precariously explored by media scholars –an already not-so-emerging field which furthermore is in full transformation. Jacobs and Peacock set out a very intertextual and fluid standpoint on series as artistic pieces of work, moving away from confined formalism and with an open perspective towards different ways of tackling aesthetics, creating a text from academia with a clear democratic desire to reach television lovers.
Editorial. How Filmmakers Think TV
Manuel Garin and Gonzalo de Lucas
Cinema and television
Three questions about Six fois deux
Birth (of the image) of a Nation
The viewer’s autonomy
Cinema on television
Marguerite Duras and Serge Daney
Critical films were possible only on (or in collaboration with) television
Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Medvedkin and the invention of television
TV, where are you?
Between film and television. An interview with Lodge Kerrigan
Gerard Casau and Manuel Garin
Ten founding filmmakers of serial television
Jordi Balló and Xavier Pérez
Sources of youth. Memories of a past of television fiction
Fran Benavente and Glòria Salvadó
The televisual practices of Iván Zulueta The televisual practices of Iván Zulueta
Miguel Fernández Labayen
WITT, Michael. Jean-Luc Godard. Cinema Historian