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State of PlayContemporary 'High-end' TV Drama$
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Robin Nelson

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780719073106

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719073106.001.0001

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Distinctive product: three kinds of quality

Distinctive product: three kinds of quality

The Sopranos, Shooting the Past, Shameless

(p.26) 2 Distinctive product: three kinds of quality
State of Play

Robin Nelson

Manchester University Press

This chapter takes three very different examples of TV3 drama output and considers them in turn, first from the point of view of their textual features and then in respect of the bases on which they might be valued. Though the examples discussed, The Sopranos, Shooting the Past and Shameless, are very different, they do have common features. Each being inherently concerned with values, both televisual and cultural. Each develops in a new, sophisticated way the mixing of narrative form and genre characteristic of ‘high-end’ drama in TV3. Mixing the discursive ‘feminine’ of the soap genre with the macho action of the discursively ‘masculine’ mobster genre, Sopranos invites the negotiation of two apparently incompatible codes which it makes accessible by drawing on the overlapping features of each in their family orientation. StP uses a range of devices to draw a potentially wide range of viewers into the drama, challenging viewers to disengage whilst drawing them into a narrative web. Shameless effects a ‘hesitation’ by looking, from one point of view, like one thing and then turning out to be another.

Keywords:   TV3 drama output, The Sopranos, Shooting the Past, Shameless, high-end drama

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