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Media Studies: What are conventions of TV Crime Drama?

A presentation that documents the conventions of TV Crime Drama that ensures the viewer will be able to recognise the genre.

Ditte Top

on 14 November 2018

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Transcript of Media Studies: What are conventions of TV Crime Drama?

What are the conventions of a TV Crime Drama?
Program titles
Title sequences
Camera Angles
Storyline/ narrative
How do we know it is a TV Crime Drama?
Binary Oppositions
Todorov's narrative theory
Title sequences:
Binary Oppositions:
Is it a TV Crime Drama?
Todorov's narrative theory:
Camera Angles
Camera Angles:
Binary Oppositions
Usually in a well-known/city or capital.
Why? Because usually there is a high crime rate there.
OR Because most people know where it is
--> Can relate and will be informed/educational
(uses and gratifications theory)
--> Seen as a dangerous place!
Washington D.C.
Some TV Crime Drama are set in countrysides to highlight the importance of crime in unexpected areas, where there is probably less crime.
is set in
Midsomer Murders
Rosemary and Thyme
is set in
English Gardens
Usually the name of the programme can give us a clue about the type of genre the show will be, for example:
The Bill --> slang for police, probably
about police vs criminals.
CSI New York --> CSI stands for crime scene investigation, including forensics. This also tells us the settings.
The title sequence includes clues to the plot of the TV show.
I analysed the CSI New York title sequence and found:
X-Rays of Brain
Main character's eye (I assume?)
Blood-stained t-shirt
Lab coats
American Flag
Latex gloves
CU of bacteria under microscope
Police cars and police officers
Lab settings
New York establishing shot
Statue of Liberty
1) It obviously has to involve some sort of crime/ criminal.
2) Has to be a TV programme, not a film.
3) Should follow the different character types.
4) Almost always follows Todorov's narrative theory, whether the crime is solved at the end of the episode or the end of the series.
1) Equilibrium (ordinary life)
2) Disruption (Crime is committed)
3) Recognition (Detective/police find out
about the crime)
4) Attempt to repair (Detective tries to solve
the crime)
5) New equilibrium (Crime is solved,
detective returns to
normal life)
Separated into:
1) Crime solvers
2) Criminals
3) Victims
4) Family/Friends of victims
However, Propp's character theory can be applied to this:
1.The hero (Detective/police)
2.The villain (criminal)
3.The donor (helps the hero - police?)
4.The dispatcher (in Sherlock, Moriarty helps Sherlock)
5.The false hero (falsely assuming the role of hero)
6.The helper (partner/sidekick)
7.The princess (need to be saved by the hero - the victims)
8.Her father (can be generally the victims family/friends)
Usually the narrative includes a crime that needs to be solved.

At the end of the episode/series the crime is solved, criminal usually is punished.
Lead characters will often have a back story, and will weave their personal life in to the narrative.
There is usually mystery involved, or some sort of puzzle, so that the audience can try to figure it out themselves.
Almost always ends on a cliffhanger to keep the audience watching the next episode.
To keep the audience interested, the narrative must be interesting. There is usually some sort of binary oppositions to keep the audience entertained.
Crime solvers
Truth/ Justice
Lies/ Injustice
The camera usually follows the detective who is solving the crime.
For the title sequence, there is a lot of close ups of the detective, and if the crime is on the verge of being solved/a tense moment, there are more extreme close ups.
Usually has a establishing shot of the settings or a group LS of all the detectives/police in the first few seconds.
Dark lighting when showing the criminal! Usually wearing dark clothes too.
Dark lighting from the top of the frame, shadowing the characters - gives impression that it is serious.
Dark clothing to coordinate with the dark lighting.
Usual things you would see in a TV Crime Drama:
1) Guns, or weapons of some sort.
2) Laboratory equipment (microscopes etc)
3) Police banner tape.
4) Police cars
5) Detective - magnifying glass.
6) Newspaper
7) Black gloves/jacket for villain --> stereotype!
and many more...
To create a tense and uncomfortable mood for the audience, there is usually a monotone humming in the background; which remains constant throughout and only changes if there is a dramatic turn in the storyline ie Detective catches criminal etc)
In Sherlock, the background music is bubbly and cheerful, which contradicts the mood of the genre. This is because Steven Moffat's reinvention of Sherlock is consisting mostly of humour, and this contradiction mocks the stereotypes of TV Crime Drama.
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