Far From Las Vegas

I have only watched few episodes of The Office, and only because my boyfriend tried to convinced me to watch it. In many ways it reminds me of a Danish show called Langt fra Las Vegas (Far From Las Vegas), which I watched some years ago. But still The Office and Langt fra Las Vegas is not quite the same. The office is a mockumentary while Langt fra Las Vegas is more like a sitcom, where canned laughter plays a big role.

Situation comedy, also called sitcom, is a radio or television comedy series that involves a continuing cast of characters in a succession of episodes. Often the characters are markedly different types thrown together by circumstance and occupying a shared environment such as an apartment building or workplace. Sitcoms are typically half an hour in length; they are either taped in front of a studio audience or employ canned applause, and they are marked by verbal sparring and rapidly resolved conflicts”. (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/667010/situation-comedy 6/10-11)

Langt Fra Las Vegas has aired over 5 seasons and every episode is 25 minutes long. The series takes place at the office and in the studio of a fictitious TV morning show called “Jump Start”. Mainly the viewer follows the main character Casper Christensen (which actually is his real name) life, and therefore sometimes the scenes also take place in his apartment. The series has a gallery of set characters and include Kenny Nickelman, Niels Buckingham, Liva Eberhardt, Kim Dorowsky, Robert Dølhus and Lisa Bremer Harris who all works at the TV station. Furthermore different famous actors sometimes star the show.

Casper is always in troubles and he tries to fix it with lies, which results in comical situations, because he always ends up getting caught. Often his lies make his friends seem like the “bad guys” and himself as the exemplary one. The themes in the series is often sex and relationships and Niels Buckingham appear as the exaggerated perverted boss at the office, when bringing up taboo topics as paedophilia and necrophilic.

Even though the show is rather old (was shown 2001 – 2003), I think it has been one of Denmark’s greatest try to make a sitcom. In the beginning it was produced for TV2 Zulu, a channel, targeting young adults. Because of the huge success, they decided to make it to the nation-wide channel TV2 uncensored. This is not surprising since Denmark almost never censor anything on television. My little sister saw it, when she was 5 years and she learnt some very dirty sentences from Robert, which she did not even understand the meaning of – this result in hips of fun.

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Taste of blood

This weeks topic have been the audiences, and matter of taste. One of the main and most important things for a series is to fulfil as wide a range of viewers as possible. The pilot is therefore a test, to show the producers if the series has potential to become a success. I have watched around ten episodes of “True Blood”, but never the pilot, which was shown in the class. The reason why I watched it was because my roommate did. I’m not sure that the pilot would have caught my attention enough to make me interested in watching more episodes. It surprised me that the series has such a huge success, and it made me curious to find out why.

Even though programs about vampires seem to be quite popular, the topic is not of a new age. For a long time there have been a great interest in these dark creatures, and vampires have always been a popular theme of fear and intrigue. From Bram Stoker’s ”Dracula”, to today´s Edward Cullen of ”Twilight”.

Although the theme is the same, there are now new possibilities to keep in touch with other fans, and to be ajour of what’s new in the development. The social network Facebook and Twitter, is one example, which makes these possibilities possible. Here it is possible to share your feeling with others who have the same interest as you.

According to Nielsen online, this is one of the reasons why twilight and trueblood, has become such a great success. (http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/online_mobile/vampire-fan-base-runs-thicker-than-blood-online/)  They have accomplished to draw the viewers towards the Internet. EBO has made a so called “out of the box” marketing plan.

Dr. Johanna Blakley, who spoke about social media and gender, at the Australian Subscription Television Association conference, also points out the importance of the Internet and the social network sites. Not just to create a successful series, but also as a new way to understand the audience. http://quincyadvertisingagencies.com/advertising-media-online-audience-a-matter-of-taste/

She claims that many businesses still use old segmentation methods to understand their audience, and that these old methods group audience into boxes which has restrictive labels on them. Companies usually assume that the audience is somehow alike in the different boxes. As opposed to this, digital and social networks often allow people to step out of the boxes, and it is here one learn to understand the audience in the future.

Vouge For Men

As mentioned in the lecture in week 7 about branding, genre and the ides of quality TV, it depends on the audiences who watch, what can be characterized as quality TV.

Even though Mad Men is not produced by HBO, some people have called the series, Vouge For Men, for example by a reviewer on the backside of the DVD-cover. I guess it relates to the great visual appearance and the fact that much fashion at the time has it origin from the early 60’s.

The main character in Mad Men, Don Draper, is by the well-reputed online magazine, Ask Men, in 2009, elected among 200 men, as the most influential man in USA. Ask Men have 6 million readers every month, and they has elected Don Draper as the man who has the biggest influence on how they act, what they buy, how they dress, and thinks.

According to Ask Men, represent Don Draper a type of man, who no longer exists. Don Draper is 100 % masculine and driven by his own value, and therefore a product from the past, which the readers miss. In the real world, there no longer exists men as him, that is why they need the fictitious Don Draper.

“Draper illustrates old-school values even though he often fails to meet them himself. His human flaws are what make him so relevant to men today. He is by turns a chain-smoking, drinking-in-the-office emblem of a bygone age, and an unusually real, earnest human being who illustrates the struggles modern men know all too well.”

http://au.askmen.com/specials/2009_top_49/don-draper-1.html

But how can a TV series affect a whole society, and world, like this?

According to Bo Kampmann Walther, media analyst at Syddansk University (Danish University), the reason for why people like it, is because of the time we live in now. In a time where everything has to political correct, we like to watch men acting or playing some kind of power-tyranny having almost no consequences.

Also he say, Mad Men shows, that there still exist a market for dollhouse stories, where the essentially is the physiological point and the historical exactness instead of tjuv bang and drama

(Reference: Podcast, Agenda – “MadMen – TV serien der styrer amerikanerne”. From the  21/08 2010.)

Mad Men has attained a level of popular-culture cachet. There has been magazines cover articles, calendars and an episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” all devoted to it, spoofs on “ The simpsons” and “saturday Night Live”, and also a “Mad Men” category on “Jeopardy”.

Even a Barbie doll of the four main characters, has been made. The company who created the dolls, Mattel, suggested a retail price of $74.95 each.http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/10/business/media/10adco.html?pagewanted=all

Don Draper, Betty Draper, Joan Holloway and Roger Sterling,

The Visual appitizer

The television drama series, Dexter, is according to me, one that has a very nice intro. The intro is a close up filming, of the main characters Dexter Morgan´s, way of getting ready for work in the morning. Even though the intro seems harmless, it relates blood, murder and the identity of Dexter, who plays the role of an uncommunicative bloodstain pattern analyst for the Miami Metro Police who at the same time is a serial killer. Dexter has a very special relationship to blood, and collects a drop of it from every person he kills.

In the start of the intro, a mosquito lands on Dexters arm while he is lying in bed sleeping. Dexter, almost in his sleep, mercilessly kills the mosquito. Roughly this illustrates, the fact that he is a killer, slaughtering without any conscience. In the next scene, he cuts himself shaving, which makes his blood run down his neck hitting the clean surface on a sink. This makes Dexter dry of the blood on his neck with a small piece of paper, which illustrates his great ability to clean up after his murders. Every time Dexter kills, the setting for the killing is wrapped up in plastic, so he doesn’t leave any traces.

After the shaving scene, lots of bizarre breakfast cooking sequences is shown. Here Dexter cuts fruit and meat, hatches eggs, frying the eggs and meat on the pan, while ketchup is dripping. He cuts a blood orange, and squeezes it, while the juice is spattering. The surface of the orange could easily be connected to the flesh of the persons he is killing. All of his murders I quit brutal, and many of them shows how Dexter cuts his victims while the blood is pattering.

The fact that he hatches the eggs could indicate that Dexter is very good at solving cases at his work, finding information, which no others can find. He always fines the “bad guys” before the police, cracking the code before anyone else. In season three, episode 3, where Dexter meets a guy at the supermarket, he shortly after suspect something bad about the guy.

After the cooking sequences, close ups of Dexter flossing and tying his shoelaces is shown. He ties his shoelaces tightly, which makes his fingers swell up because of the lack of blood circulation. This might indicate that Dexter sometimes feels limited, has a hard time showing his true personality.

The first time the viewer sees the face of Dexter, is almost in the end of the intro. Dexter pulls on his white t-shirt, and it is not before the t-shirt is on, that the viewer sees his face. The fact that the t-shirt is white and that you only see his face when he is wearing the t-shirt, tells that he only shows himself to others, as a innocent person.

The Intro ends with Dexter locking his apartment door, and afterwards walks out of the picture with a little smile on his face.  He locks the door to his secrets and walks away smiling, as if everything was normal.

I think that the shots used in the intro, is very unique and intense. The sharp close-ups have the ability to make the ordinary small things seem rather bizarre and quite menacing. The intro doesn’t tell much about Dexter or the plot of the series, instead it has a curtain mystery, which makes one think.  Even though the music is quite simple, it still has an important role to the whole atmosphere of the intro.

Storyboard - Dexter Intro

National Power

The influence, that national television is in possession of, is one I never really have been reflected upon before. Almost every nation has its own Reality stars, TV anchors, actors, sports stars and so on. All in which is more or less “icons” to the population of the individual nation. National television often consist the ability to bring people together.  A great example of this, we see in sports tournaments, where for example, Americans often get together to watch the “Monday night football”. Since I arrived in Australia, it has been interesting to experience the Australian TV culture. In contradistinction to what I know from the Danish television, I feel like a “stranger” in the Australian world of television. Of course I’m familiar with the American Hollywood stars that appears almost worldwide, but the local networks is far more difficult to relate to.

I have been in Australia for almost four months now, and almost all of my knowledge about Australian TV, I have been taught in the courses at my school, and by my housemates. Not that I’m not interested, it’s just difficult to get the same relationship to the various channels and the hosts, than it is in my home country. This relating difficulty makes, in some degree, television loose a little of its value.  The Australian TV still manage to entertain me, I just haven’t got the same emotion and intimacy when I’m watching, as I do in Denmark. Here “Good morning Australia” is just another show anchored by unknown reporters and hosts, but in Denmark my vision of such a show is much different because I feel I know the reporters and anchors at a more “personal” level. As a child growing up I Denmark, I used to watch a children’s program called “Bamse og Kylling”1 (in English, “Teddy and the chicken”).  Almost every child in Denmark, growing up in the 90´s, is familiar with “Bamse og Kylling”, and I believe that the influence of the program has thought me a lot through my childhood. It is strange, that something that important to me is unfamiliar to so many others and vice versa. I believe that other nations has similar relationships to different programs, and therefore the national television sometimes makes a nation share the same frame of reference. This can make it difficult for a foreign to feel like “a part” of the individual nations television. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICumlXdCqxw

 

“Imagine television future: An interview with Intels’s Brian David Johnson”

The future is not a fixed point in time that we are all hurdling towards. The future is not set. The future is made every day by the actions of people”. “We need to ask ourselves: what kind of future do we want to live in? What kind of future do we NOT want to live in?”

Brian is a futurist at Intel Corporation and has recently written a book on the future of screens and entertainment called, Screen Future: The Future of Entertainment Computing and the Devices We Love.

In the interview Brian talks about television in relation to such trends as ubiquitous computing and social media.

  • Changes are driven by shift in technology, business practice, social and cultural expectations.
  • Fundamental change occurred when the computer changed television into data (some people talked to peg 2015 as possible date from this, Brian think it might be a bit longer).
  • Appointment-based medium to an engagement-based one.
  • Ubiquitous television
  • No lines between personalized and socialized; it’s about access and communication.

In the future he says: “People will live with TV throughout their day and across all the digital devices or “screens” in their lives.” That means that it shifted the focus of the definition and experience away from the devices and to the lives of consumer. No longer will you go to your TV just to get TV.

According to my latest post, I like that Henrik Jenkins in the beginning of the interview say:

 “After years of teaching at MIT, I am often sceptical of work on media which starts from a technologist’s perspective since they rarely factor in the social and cultural dimensions of media” Johnson is a notable exception — a deep thinker who groks the interface between technology and culture, who may work for industry but also understands the consumer perspective on why we love television and what we want to get out of watching our favourite series”.

Television Studies

It is funny to imagine how the future of television will be, especially when you think about, what people thought about television before everyone becomes an owner of it.

– Originally, television was thought to be highly beneficial to a child’s development. As a result, educating children through TV became an advertising technique to sell more televisions. http://libguides.bowdoin.edu/content.php?pid=120305&sid=1049545

I think this ad is quite ironic because people have not really been made smarter by television, instead they have been made much slower.

But, nobody can predict 100% what will happen in the future of television. Immediately experts have a pretty god basis to predict what will happen. According to John Hartley it worth to make a sustained reflection on the tensions produced by the problem of knowledge in and about television.

He has some good arguments for why we should consider who are saying what about television and why, when we are studying.

A little story;

– In 2006 White Dot made an international campaign against television. “Cornell Research: Children’s TV Triggers Autism – A new study from Cornell University shows that television is responsible for the developed world’s rising rates of autism in children. If this is true, can parents and government have any choice but to stop children watching it?”

http://www.whitedot.org/issue/fix_aboutus.asp                                                               White Dot is a newspaper for people who don’t watch TV.

Later on the author admitted that: “there are no large data sets that track wether children who watch a lot of TV when they are young are more likely to develop autism”. – The Cornell economist compared data on US children’s TV watching with climatic data on rainfall: “This analysis showed that children from rainy countries watch more television. When autism rates were then compared between rainy and drier countries, the relationship between high precipitation and levels of autism was positive”

“Experts who do get to comment on television in the media are likely to be drawn from disciplines like psychology, marketing, journalism political economy, pediatrics, criminology. In the main such experts have not been sympathetic witness, unless they’re discussing the TV industry as a business”.

Book reference: Television Truth, by John Hartley.