revised_tv_crime_article_jan_2016_002_.doc

2003 and those which have been important in the

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[2003--]) and those which have been important in the development of the genre (for example, Starsky and Hutch [1975-1979], or Miami Vice [1984-1990]); consideration of crime/action then provides a useful corrective in our historical modelling of crime television. That is, if we omit discussion of commercially significant series in favour of 1
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those with greater levels of narrative, thematic or visual complexity (for example, so-called Nordic noir explored elsewhere in this issue), our understanding of the historical development of crime as a genre will be not only abbreviated but overly simplistic. The overlooking of action-oriented crime involves a further dimension in that the sensational action aesthetic of North American shows such as NCIS is present within crime television more broadly. I argue that action aesthetics – most obviously visual effects designed to capture movement of objects, people and data, the use of pulsing sound and the centrality of montage – have become established as prominent features of crime television beyond the more clearly delineated action-oriented shows. Post- CSI then, crime television’s frequent recourse to montage as a strategy for conveying the time-consuming work of investigation (whether deductive, data-driven or laboratory based) exploits sensation in the service of procedural form. The significance of this particular observation – that action aesthetics are exploited as important elements of crime shows that are not typically understood as action – has to do in part with models of television genre. Since action is here a way of inflecting or representing crime content, it is easily overlooked. Modes of Crime Television Crime television deals at a basic level with crime and its investigation, with the pursuit of criminals, the policing of society and the legal systems which justly, or more often imperfectly, govern investigation and policing. These concerns frame much work on the genre which locates the representation of policing in relation to social and political discourses. 2 The understanding that crime is a television genre particularly concerned with men and masculinity has also informed and shaped scholarly approaches. 3 Yet if crime television is unified by a particular type of content, perspectives on the genre must take account of the multiple ways in which crime content can be and has been presented, that is the genre’s diversity (and historical development). The focus on action/crime in this piece, for example, emerges in part from earlier research on the ways in which crime television engaged with themes of political violence and its implications for national security in a specifically North American context. Considering what kinds of crime and what kinds of investigative units or forms of specialist knowledge were brought to the fore in a given moment led to other questions as to how that crime content was framed for viewers.
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