A television series is a generally narrative work of an audiovisual nature that is broadcast on television, in periodic installments, each one maintaining a unity and plot continuity or at least thematic with the previous and subsequent episodes. It can consist of one or more seasons.
Periodicity and production
Television series can be broadcast by seasons or sets of chapters that may or may not present their own theme and parallel to the general plot of the series. Although the term is popularly used to designate serial fiction, other genres are likely to be offered serially, such as documentaries .
The television series should not be confused with the film or film, although it may also have second parts ( sequels ), analepsis ( prequels ), recasts or reboots or form more or less extensive cycles around a character, the so-called franchises , series cinematographic films or sagas (for example, those formed around the character of James Bond or Indiana Jones , or the trilogies received under the label of Star Wars). On the other hand, from a secondary character in a television series another may be born in which this character is the main character (for example, from a character from the Cheers series Frasier emerged , and from another from Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul was born ). The series thus born is called a derivative series or spin-off .
To create a series, the usual procedure is to create a proof of concept called a pilot or initial episode , which serves so that producers can check if the adopted formula is good, has a high audience and good critics, and more money can be invested in its continuity , or correct minor defects that may be perceived; if the test is not passed, it tends to be like a loose telefilm . The writing teams are very important, supervised by the executive producer or showrunner , in charge of all the creative aspects of the series and almost always its editor-in-chief. Scripting software such as Final Draft , Celtx or others.
The initial idea for an episode is called a "trampoline", "lever" or springboard . A preview or trailer of what happened in previous episodes is often necessary to refresh the memory of the plot. Then, before the credits, an initial part of the narration that serves as a "hook" to capture the public's interest, the so-called conflict, problem or teaser , almost always a gap that serves to focus the viewer's attention. In the structure the "label" or tag is also important, the final scene or scenes that come after the last commercial intermission, which serves to tie up loose ends, propose later intrigues, and sustain the long-term continuity of the plot, in a way that encourages fidelity to the series.
In the development of the script, the so-called "couplets" are important, two-line dialogues in which one character answers another in an epigrammatic or ingenious way. The ladder divides the literary script into scenes to form the technical script, ensuring that they are meaningful and round in themselves. When production is behind schedule or a budget is short, a recapitulatory episode or "clippings episode" is often used that contains various flash-backs of previous episodes, prominent and well-known passages, framed in a minimum of new material. [ 1 ]
In the case of comedies , post-production is important , since different types of effects are added that underline the gags : sound like canned laughter or outtakes. Another phenomenon to take into account are the documentaries about the filming , which constitute a genre of their own, destined to exploit the market constituted by its fans , since each series also generates important merchandising .
The genre was initially influenced by the radio serial and the romance novel . Arguably, almost always develop frames folletinescas by deliveries around lies and secrets are uncovered gradually. Later a great plot diversity was installed in the genre, which even hybridized the genres, something that usually offers quite a few possibilities of success:
- The sitcom or sitcoms ( MASH , A man at home , 7 life , Cheers , Frazier , Farmacia de Guardia , Friends , The Fresh Prince of Bel Air , Seinfeld , The Cosby Show ...)
- The relatives ( The Brady tribe , The Waltons , With eight is enough , The house on the prairie , The Serrano ...)
- Las comedias dramáticas (Flaked, Grace & Frankie, Nurse Jackie, Orange Is the New Black, Parenthood, Rescue Me, Weeds)
- Las comedias irreverentes (Veep, Arrested Development, Padre de familia, BoJack Horseman, Club de Cuervos, F Is for Family, Love, Summer Heights High, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Wet Hot American Summer.)
- Los dramas políticos o sociales (Homeland, Chernobyl, House of Cards, Occupied, The Good Wife, The West Wing).
- Those of crimes (police, detectives, gangsters ...) Colombo , Kojak , Sherlock , Brön , Without a trace , Sad song of Hill Street , Cold case , Law and Order UVE , Better Call Saul , Bloodline , Fargo , The Blacklist , The Bridge , Twin Peaks , Agatha Christie's Poirot , The Little Murders of Agatha Christie .
- The thrillers of suspense , of action , of adventure or spies ( Impossible Mission , Lost , Pirates , Bates Motel , Breaking Bad , Dexter , Sons of Anarchy , The Paper House , The Fall , The Following , Curro Jimenez , The Killing , Condor ; 24 , Arrow , The Queen of the South , Marco Polo ,Outlander, Prison Break, The Last Kingdom, Turn, Vikings.)
- Those of the west or westerns ( Bonanza , Gunsmoke , The Virginian ...)
- Las de superhéroes (Gotham, Marvel’s Daredevil, Marvel’s Jessica Jones, The Flash.)
- The historical-manners and biographers ( Yo, Claudio , Arriba ybajo , Mad Men , The Crown , Narcos , Peaky Blinders , The Americans ).
- Those of science fiction , including dystopian and ucrónicas. ( Star Trek , UFO , Espacio 1999 , Ascension , Between , Heroes , Orphan Black , Sense8 , The 100 , The 4400 and Under the Dome ).
- The fantastic ( Game of Thrones , Supernatural , The X-Files , Stranger Things , Fringe , Grimm , The Ministry of Time , The Witcher )
- Las de terror (Tensión, The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, Hemlock Grove, Penny Dreadful, Scream, The Walking Dead y Z Nation).
- The doctors ( Marcus Welby , UR , House , The good doctor , Grey's Anatomy ...)
- The animated ones ( The three twins , Mazinger Z , Marco , Heidi , Naruto , Once upon a time a man , The Flintstones , The Simpsons , Family Guy ...)
- The family sagas , dramas , soap operas or soap operas ( The Forsyte Saga , Dallas , Dynasty ...)
- The youth and children ( Pippi Longstocking , Misfits , Skins , Merlí , Hanna Montana , Verano azul ...)
- The documentaries ( L'Odyssée sous-marine du Commandant Cousteau , Cosmos , The man and the earth ...)
In the United States, those set in current times, around a family and with a melodramatic tone, initially directed by the sponsors mainly to the female consumer sphere (the woman at home), are called soap operas ( Dallas , Dinastía , Falcon Crest ...); in Latin America, soap operas .
Two factors that had a great importance for the appearance of this form of entertainment were radio and cinema . During the 20th century , middle-class families who had a radio in their home and around which they gathered to listen to the stories that were told in the different radio broadcasts. From what cinema does, it is obvious that television series adopted their audiovisual format on a smaller screen than in projection rooms. Thus, television became popular thanks to the fusion of two languages: the immediacy of radio and the audiovisual language of cinema.
During the 1940s , a television phenomenon developed that had its stellar role from the 1950s , when the presence of a television in homes was normalized . The factors that favored the television becoming a consumer good were its easy and inexpensive production and the innovation that it brought to the people of that time.
First golden age (1951-1970) [ 4 ]
In 1927 the first experimental television broadcast was made in the United States . The first narrative series was a policeman, The Television Ghost (1931-1933), fifteen-minute episodes in which the specter of a victim told how she was murdered. But it was not until 1941 that a conventional television broadcast was carried out for the first time from a set in New York City. Due to the intervention of the United States in World War II caused by the attack on Pearl Harbor , there was a hiatus that lasted until 1946 , when television broadcasts were normalized.
Assuming something that would end up impoverishing the television concept, the main objective was preferred, outside of educating and instructing the public, rather to isolate it from the real world and entertain it, since television networks prevailed the greatest amount of short-term benefits and the least cost. For this reason, the star genre for many years was sitcoms . Some of the best known were I love Lucy (which arose from a radio serial, thus recalling the importance of radio) and Bewitched(1964-1972), since in them the public could identify with typical family situations and at the same time allowed them to have a good time; however, the characters used to be stereotyped and the plots repeated and schematic: the script was not as important as it is today. On the other hand, the ideology imparted by this type of series was little varied and monotonous, always very conservative, around the invariable values of the Protestant White Anglo-Saxon and an American dream of popularity, money and family integration, because of the pressure they exerted the advertising sponsors of the series, always eager to address a general and broad audience in order to exclude the smaller market sectors, with non-shared or controversial ideological biases.
But the public began to realize the poor quality of this type of product, so it gave it a certain appearance of novelty, at least in the case of the series sponsored by Aaron Spelling , the most conventional and schematic of which It was definitely a Vacation at the Sea . In the police genre, it is worth highlighting The Untouchables , Perry Mason , The Fugitive and Ironside . Within the western there were series of great renown, such as Bonanza (1959-1973) and the second longest-running series in the US, Gunsmoke , of which 635 episodes were broadcast between 1955 and 1975 (not counting five rebootslater). A peculiar subgenre were the serial fictions that focused on animals: dogs like The Adventures of Rin tin tin (1954-1959) or dolphins like Flipper (1964-1967), among others. An example of the most original in terms of aesthetics was the family comic horror The Munsters (1964-1966); on the other hand, some series tried to avoid censorship and the Hays code by treating serious contemporary specific social problems, but transferring them to a fictional future and distant time to circumvent censorship, such as Star Trek: The Original Series (1966-1969). Series such as the Kafkaesque British series The Prisoner also had political reading.(1967) or the American The Invaders (1967-1968), which, under the alien invasion and the paranoia it caused, covered up the drama of the Cold War , as well as many episodes of the classic spy series Mission Impossible (1966- 1973).
Another genre that became popular with viewers was the anthology series ( Anthology Live Drama ). This genre is characterized by showing independent episodes that do not have serial continuity between them. Many of these series were sponsored by brands. A clear example of this is Studio One or Westinghouse, Summer Theater , which was sponsored by an appliance company. Some representative series of this genre are The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents .
During the 1950s, the most important networks were three: ABC ( American Boradcasting Corporation ) , NBC ( National Broadcasting Corporation ) and CBS ( Columbia Broadcasting System ) . These three networks prevailed in the television industry until the 1980s, when FOX appeared .
Second Golden Age (1981-2000)
For the second golden age of American television to appear, there were important precedents that must be taken into account. One of the series that pointed the way was Hill Street Blues , broadcast by NBC from 1981 to 1987 , the work of the great showrunner Steven Bochco , who, reinforcing the manners and naturalism of the scripts, adopted a very documentary and realistic point of view of what that was the day to day in a police station.
Indeed, it renewed the series of the police genre, in which American television has always stood out. They stopped idealizing policemen and detectives, who gradually became anti-heroic stereotypes and with edges of social criticism ( Columbo , etc .: curiously, all the villains in this series belonged to the upper class, although they did not go any further in this regard). Fiction then began to get rid of the Manichean schematics that had disrupted television series at the beginning and opened up to less idealized and conventional themes and less flat characters. The Postmodernism , with its irony , parody and mix of genres appears in series like comic-sentimental police Moonlighting (1985-1989).
But the one that stands out above all television series was the one created by David Lynch : Twin Peaks . At that time ( 1990 ) the broadcast of this series by ABC was a revolution in the way of making television fiction. This series presented a cinematographic aesthetic, a staging different from the conventional dramatic series, with a surrealist reading, an anti-television rhythm and open endings.
Another series that had its importance in the range of fantasy was X-Files , broadcast by Fox between 1993 and 2003 and created by Chris Carter . Taking the open endings from Twin Peaks , its relevance comes from the phenomenon of fans that was created around it (similar to the one that emerged with the Lost series , also open-ended, but at a time when the Internet had not become widespread) . It is a necessary series to be able to understand what television fiction was like in the 1990sand it was a turning point that has remained in popular culture ever since. With it, it was again opted for open endings, dark aesthetics and magical realism , rejecting the usual conventions in the fantasy genre and assuming a more international and less Americanized imprint in its contexts and plots. The conventional Babylon 5 (1993-1998) contributed little to the world of science fiction .
In its beginnings, there were two models of television: private and public. The latter is the one with the largest presence in Europe. When speaking of British television, the BBC ( British Broadcasting Corporation ) should be mentioned without a doubt , which, as happened with different stations, went back to the radio BBC ( British Broadcasting Company ), which appeared in 1922 . In 1929 they began experimental broadcasts in HDTV, but during the Second World War stopped. From 1946 to 1955 the BBC was the only television network in Britain until private competition with ITV appeared, a chain created with the intention of stimulating the development of the consumer society in the British population and providing greater freedom of choice to the viewer.
While the BBC had a program largely broadcast live and of its own production, ITV was dedicated to buying series and television films of American production. In this way, ITV offered something that the BBC lacked: it energized its programming by opening itself up to the outside world and avoiding becoming stagnant, since the BBC's was centralized in London and was much more nationalistic; in response, the BBC also streamlined its programming.
This competition was reflected in the series they produced. In 1956 ITV began to broadcast Armchair Theater in which they broadcast English plays related to the " Angry Young Men " / Angry Young Men , a British group of playwrights that dealt with issues of social relevance in the British reality of the moment.
In the comic genre, one of the most important series on British television was undoubtedly Monty Phyton Flying Circus , broadcast between 1969 and 1974 . This irreverent program, starring comedians Eric Idle , John Cleese , Terry Jones , Michael Palin , Graham Chapman and Terry Gillian had an immense impact thanks to the fact that it was broadcast on public television and because it dealt with issues of social concern of the moment with freshness. with the aim of attacking the established British system from the most absolute irreverence. Regarding fantasy and science fiction seriesA seminal classic that inspired other projects was undoubtedly the long-running Doctor Who series .
The adaptations of literary classics were one of the strengths of the English television industry, as well as the series with historical settings. ITV produced a classic like Upstairs, Downstairs (1971-1975) and the BBC reached a peak with the miniseries I, Claudio , about the Robert Graves novel ; It is also worth mentioning Poldark (1975-1977), a transposition of the cycle of historical novels by Winston Graham that came to have a later remake (2015), or The Mole (1979), an adaptation of the famous spy novel by John le Carré . Granada Television spared no expense to make another classic,Return to Brideshead (1981), on the novel by Evelyn Waugh ; Another classic also belongs to this chain, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1984-1994), a character from which other more modern series have been inspired.
Italy and France
When talking about the history of television series in Italy and France , one should talk about auteur television, a concept used to refer to the showrunner of a television series. In these two territories there were several characters who contributed significant questions to the dominant American model.
One of them was one of the leading representatives of the neorealist film movement in Italy: Roberto Rossellini . After leaving the world of cinema in 1963 , he joined television with the intention of creating the content that he wanted and reaching as many people as possible. He proposed a very ambitious project, called educational television , for which he wanted to create a new production company with the intention of creating an encyclopedia through television programs and biographical telefilms. Unfortunately, that purpose could not go beyond his telefilm Socrates .
In the French sphere, Jean Renoir stands out . One of the formats that most used were dramatic dramas, since thanks to live broadcasting (imitation of theatrical modes of representation) a space was left for the actor to work in an atmosphere similar to that of the theater, and in this way get the most realistic result possible. Someone who was also an important figure on French television was Jean-Luc Godard , who after being disappointed in cinema around 1973, began experimenting with video. This decision helped him to participate in several French public series, such as Six fois Deux ( 1976 ) or France tour détour deux enfants ( 1978). His intention on television was the same as Rossellini: to turn television into a didactic and critical space that would question preconceptions.
Third Golden Age (2000-)
The third golden age of television is considered to have started with the new millennium. The quality of the scripts increased thanks to the historic 2007-2008 Hollywood Writers Strike initiated in the USA by the Writers Guild of America and the assumption of a complex writing and rewriting process, which It could even involve teams of about twenty specialized scriptwriters (dialogists, scriptwriters or synopsis authors, biblists, scale artists, etc.) under the direction of the showrunner, who imposed the directives of the concept of the series by writing the so-called "Bible", which contained the constants that the editors had to respect in terms of characters, themes, development, structures and environments. The topics were so open that even the most morbid was discussed (sex in Sex in the City , Law & Order UVE , Californication , Orange Is the new Black , Con lugar , Transparent , Modern family or autopsies, now an inevitable element in the police officers from CSI) and the scripts abandoned the usual Manichean schematics once and for all and refined both the language and the content of their stories; the characters could begin to stop being flat and stereotypical, they evolve throughout the series and begin to have more importance, with a past and a future. The posmodernidad influenced providing an ironic and parodic tone and a mix of genres and a new visual narrative, which is testimony for example 24 (2001-2010) that unfolds in real time, using the screen splitting and use the manual camera looking for more naturalness.
The broadcast of the JJ Abrams and Damon Lindelof series : Lost (2004-2010) stands out. Its popularity became a phenomenon never before seen on television, as a fan base emerged around the series and appeared on various Internet forums. Likewise, the naturalism born in the police genre with the series by Steven Bochco continued to get involved in scientific, social and psychological spheres with influential franchises such as CSI (2001-2016) and the long-lived Law and Order (1990-2020), or in social analysis naturalists like The Wire(2002-2008), which delves into the same human structure of Baltimore . The perspective of the criminal is used with series such as Los Sopranos (1999-2007), Dexter (2006-2013), How to Get Away with Murder (2014-), Breaking Bad (2008-2013) or Criminal Minds (2005-2020 ). Another characteristic is the chronological extension of the action through an abundant use of analepsis ( Without a trace , 2002-2009 or Cold Case , 2003-2010, or the aforementioned Lost , for example).
The animated series were renewed, expanding their audience into adulthood and also assuming much more demanding scripts. From the barely critical schematism of Hanna-Barbera's The Flintstones (1960-1966), he passed to the implacable acidity of Matt Groening ( The Simpsons , 1989-) or Seth MacFarlane ( Family Guy , 1999-), among others.
Historical and heroic fantasy series began to be endowed with quality budgets and scripts. This is the case of Vikings (2013-2020) or Game of Thrones (2011-2019). In the field of policemen, the range was expanded to Nordic noir with series as adapted as the Swedish-Danish Bron / Broen (2011-2018), among others, and old classics are revitalized with episodes that reach the length of feature films ( Sherlock ), 2010-2017. Fantasy and science fiction series experienced a great push, with masterpieces such as the British Torchwood (2006-2011), The Man in the High Castle (2015-2019), the aforementionedGame of Thrones (2011-2019), Humans (2015-2018), Westworld (2016-) or the various extensions of the Star Trek and Marvel universes . Historical or social interest series also make a strong impression, such as the miniseries Chernobyl (2019) or The Handmaid's Tale (2017-).
Since then, a great variety of television productions have appeared, due to new forms of cable and Internet consumption; These are primarily commercial entertainment companies offering an extensive catalog of audiovisual content to the public for a monthly fee. The greatest exponents of these companies are HBO , Netflix and Amazon Prime Video , although there are a large number of streaming platforms . This circumstance has favored binge-watching or marathon-viewing , a cultural phenomenon that consists of watching television programs consecutively. This fact has benefited globalization of television series, that is to say, now any citizen with an average standard of living can watch television programs, wherever he is.
Structure for everything
There are productions that do not meet the requirement of having a narrative structure; Despite this, they are considered as series, due to their invoice, production process and programming method.
Production and programming
As a general rule, fiction series are much more expensive productions than serials . This is due to the fact that they are usually proposed to cover the hours of greatest television consumption or prime time , while the latter are destined to daytime bands or daytime , where the audience levels are lower.
A series is usually conceived in a closed way, with a planned ending, but leaving open the possibility of expanding the production, depending on the audience results. The most common is that a first batch of thirteen episodes is made and, if success accompanies, it is very likely that the series will return with new installments.
- Situation comedy . ( Sitcom in English) From the point of view of production and programming, they are defined for a duration between 20 and 40 minutes due to their limited stages (one or two and almost always indoor) and because they are recorded with the assistance of the public.
- Teleseries or long-distance series . Each chapter lasts between 50 and 60 minutes, although, in some countries, such as Spain , Argentina , Colombia and Mexico , the footage can be much higher. They have different scenarios, both indoors and outdoors. They are distinguished between dramas and comedies.
- Anthology : This is a type of series that, in each chapter, changes characters, settings and even the production team. The continuity between one and the other is achieved through the theme, the same for all episodes. An example is the Spanish production La fingerprint of crime (1985), which, in each installment, addressed a different criminal case, based on real events. An example of an anthology series where the characters change, but the production team and actors are the same, is American Horror Story (2011).
- Miniseries . It is a type of production halfway between soap operas and telefilms (in English, TV Movie ). They are usually planned for at least three episodes, each lasting approximately 90 minutes, that is, the standard that the American television industryhas assigned to telefilms.
- Microseries : Production that lasts between 3 or 5 minutes. Like sitcoms, they have few settings but; with a clear narrative and strong themes. They can have a minimum of 20 episodes, even seasonally, they are mostly handled on the Internet.
The documentary genre can be the subject of a serial broadcast on television , as well as its different variants, arising from a process of incorporating techniques characteristic of other genres. This is the case of the information contained in the docudramas in which reality is approached with narrative resources typical of fiction series, such as the script based on plots and even characters. An example of a serial docudrama is the Spanish production Vivir cada día , broadcast by TVE1 between 1978 and 1988 .
Another variant of the documentary is the docu-soap ( docu , from documentary; soap , from soap opera ), although, in this case, the narrative techniques used do not come from fiction series, but rather from television serials. As in these, the plots remain open from one chapter to another. The Catalan production Bellvitge Hospital , offered by the Catalan regional television TV3 , is an example of a docu-soap . [ 5 ]
- Historical cinema
- Appearance series
- Soap opera
- Annex: Hispanic series and soap operas (2018)
- Radio serial
- Brazilian soap opera
- Venezuelan soap opera
- Epstein, Alex (August 24, 2005). "Tentative glossary" . Complications Ensue: The Crafty Game, TV, and Screenwriting Blog . Retrieved February 7, 2020 .
- Torre, Toni de la 1981- (2016). History of the series (1st ed edition). Stone. ISBN 9788416498512 . OCLC 960409378 . Retrieved November 4, 2019 .
- «Who invented the television series? The origin of the series » . okdiario.com . January 12, 2018 . Retrieved November 4, 2019 .
- "Golden Age of Television" incorrect with self-reference ( help ) . Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia . September 8, 2019 . Retrieved December 2, 2019 .
- Application example to watch series on Android.