revised_tv_crime_article_jan_2016_002_.doc

Across the autopsies conducted by ducky and his

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across the autopsies conducted by Ducky and his assistant and the laboratory in which Goth- styled Abby Sciuto holds sway; both are framed in very different ways as eccentric. The television crime lab has developed as a site compatible with non-conforming femininity, frequently evoking the woman with scientific expertise as defiantly brilliant (as in Bones’ Temperance Brennen). Abby’s lab is a basement space of fascination, the various screens and experiments supplemented by a rock soundtrack that is her preferred method of working. Her addiction to a high caffeine drink, rapid-fire delivery of complex results and quirky behaviour signal a brilliant non-conformity that is very much about movement. In contrast to shows such as Bones , in which, as Steenberg notes Brennan is tutored by her co-workers in acceptable femininity, Abby’s intensity, unconventional behaviour and enthusiasm for her work is never coded as failing femininity; thus while in some respects Abby enacts an excessive version of forensic femininity, her caffeine-fuelled intensity is integral to the work of the team on the ground. [INSERT Figures 4&5] In addition to the autopsy room and the laboratory there is a third site of investigation foregrounded in NCIS : the digital. Here the show intersects with a wider generic emphasis on 11
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a culture of surveillance in which investigators from multiple agencies track citizens through their purchases, vehicle registration, personal or criminal records and so on. Data is drawn into the operation centre, its analysis presented on screens within screens. Steenberg’s formulation of the ‘spectacle of data’ is particularly resonant for twenty-first century formulations of action-oriented crime television. Elsewhere I have used the formulation of sensational television to frame the ways in which popular shows have narrativized anxieties about homeland security in a broadly investigative context. Here the spectacle of data functions as part of a visualising of surveillance which, I argue, is implicitly justified by threats to national security: “Banks of monitors, computer screens running databases, and camera relays are central to the iconography of both NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles . These technologies allow the graphic representation of the work of investigation, with the protagonists accessing information via screens.” (Tasker, 2014, 48). Surveillance is now a central theme of crime television; across forensic and action modes of crime drama the availability and the visualisation of data (on say, suspicious credit card purchases) for audience and investigators is a source of sensational pleasures while advancing narrative goals. The emergence of a surveillance aesthetic in contemporary crime/action involves not just the visualisation of data then, but the remediation of images within images. Recall that in the previous section I mentioned a sequence familiar to viewers of crime television, one in which officers rapidly and efficiently enter premises in pursuit of suspects or evidence.
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