Breaking Bad and Cinematic Television

Duke University Press
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With its twisty serialized plots, compelling antiheroes, and stylish production, Breaking Bad has become a signature series for a new golden age of television, in which some premium cable shows have acquired the cultural prestige usually reserved for the cinema. In Breaking Bad and Cinematic Television Angelo Restivo uses the series as a point of departure for theorizing a new aesthetics of television: one based on an understanding of the cinematic that is tethered to affect rather than to medium or prestige. Restivo outlines how Breaking Bad and other contemporary “cinematic” television series take advantage of the new possibilities of postnetwork TV to create an aesthetic that inspires new ways to think about how television engages with the everyday. By exploring how the show presents domestic spaces and modes of experience under neoliberal capitalism in ways that allegorize the perceived twenty-first-century failures of masculinity, family, and the American Dream, Restivo shows how the televisual cinematic has the potential to change the ways viewers relate to and interact with the world.
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About the author

Angelo Restivo is Associate Professor in the School of Film, Media, and Theatre at Georgia State University and author of The Cinema of Economic Miracles: Visuality and Modernization in the Italian Art Film, also published by Duke University Press.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Duke University Press
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Published on
Feb 14, 2019
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Pages
208
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ISBN
9781478003441
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Language
English
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Genres
Performing Arts / Television / History & Criticism
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Toward the end of the twentieth century, science fiction television took a dark turn. Series like The X-Files, Millennium, and Dark Skies wove menacing technologies, paranormal forces, and shadowy government agencies into complex tales of corruption and cover-ups. Mind control, alien abductions, secret government laboratories, and implacable “men in black” moved from the fringes to the mainstream of American culture, making weekly appearances in living rooms everywhere. Other series that played on fears of new technologies—such as virtual reality—set the stage for unfamiliar kinds of exploitation, while Dark Angel offered glimpses of a near-future wasteland devastated by a technological catastrophe.

In The Paranormal and the Paranoid: Conspiratorial Science Fiction Television, Aaron John Gulyas explores the themes that permeated and defined science fiction television at the turn of the millennium. The author traces the roots of this phenomenon in an earlier generation of series including The Invaders, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, and Project U.F.O. and examines how changes in the cultural landscape led to the proliferation of these types of shows. This book delves into the internal mythology of shows like The X-Files, resurrects now-forgotten series like Wild Palms and VR.5, and provides an important glimpse into American culture at the close of the twentieth century.

While exploring the pervasive grimness of these shows, Gulyas also examines how they offer hope in the form of heroes—like agents Scully and Mulder—who relentlessly dug through the tissue of lies and distortions to find and expose the truth. The Paranormal and the Paranoid will appeal to scholars of media studies, sociology, and science fiction—not to mention fans of these programs and even conspiracy theorists.
Airing on CBS for fourteen seasons (1979–93), Knots Landing was a spinoff of the popular drama Dallas, but ultimately ran longer and took a very different tone on domestic, social, and economic issues than its predecssor. In the first full-length scholarly study of Knots Landing, Nick Salvato situates the series in its economic and industrial contexts, addresses its surprisingly progressive relationship to the American politics of its period, offers close formal interpretations of noteworthy episodes, and unpacks the pleasures of the program’s sensuous surfaces. While it has been largely overlooked in studies of 1980s television, Knots Landing nonetheless beat more masculine fare like Hill Street Blues and L.A. Law in the ratings, introduced a novel focus on middle-class lives in melodrama, and launched or revived the careers of its major stars. In this study Salvato investigates the series’ place in widespread serialization of American primetime television in the early 1980s and the end of network dominance in the early 1990s, along with its unique relationship to Reaganism and glamour, on the one hand, and everydayness and suburbanization, on the other. Salvato also looks at the series in relation to key concepts such as memory, theatricality, identification, “quality” TV, and stardom. Fans of the series as well as readers interested in popular culture, television history, representations of gender, and constructions of celebrity will find much to enjoy in this volume.
The Italian art cinema of the 1960s is known worldwide for its brilliance and vitality. Yet rarely has this cinema been considered in relation to the profound economic and cultural changes that transformed Italy during the sixties--described as the “economic miracle.” Angelo Restivo argues for a completely new understanding of that cinema as a negotiation between a national aesthetic tradition of realism and a nascent postmodern image culture.
Restivo studies numerous films of the period, focusing mainly on the works of Pier Paolo Pasolini and Michelangelo Antonioni. He finds that these auteurs’ films reworked the neorealist aesthetic developed in the 1940s and 1950s, explored issues brought to the fore by the subsequent consumer boom, and presaged developments central to both critical theory and the visual arts in the 1980s and 1990s. Drawing on the theories of Lacan, Zizek, Benjamin, Foucault, Jameson, and Deleuze, he shines new light on such films as Pasolini’s Accattone and Teorema, and Antonioni’s Red Desert and Blow-Up. Restivo’s model for understanding the relationship of the 1960s Italian art film to its cultural contexts also has implications that extend to the developing national cinemas of countries such as Brazil and Taiwan.
The Cinema of Economic Miracles will interest scholars and students in all areas of film studies, especially those studying theories of the image, national cinema theory, and Italian cinema, and to those engaged in poststructuralist theory, philosophy, and comparative literature.
A lively and revealing biography of Andy Griffith and Don Knotts, this “humorous, informative, and poignant book” celebrates the powerful real-life friendship behind one of America’s most iconic television programs and “shows how the magic was created” (Library Journal).

Andy Griffith and Don Knotts first met on Broadway in the 1950s. When Andy moved to Hollywood to film a TV pilot for a comedy about a small-town sheriff, Don called to ask if Andy’s sheriff could use a deputy. The friendship and comedy partnership between Sheriff Andy Taylor and Deputy Barney Fife ignited The Andy Griffith Show, elevating the folksy television sitcom into a timeless study of human friendship. Together, they created a program with a uniquely small-town dynamic that captured the hearts of Americans across the country who watched these two men rocking on the front porch, meditating about the pleasure of a bottle of pop.

But behind this sleepy charm, de Visé’s exclusive reporting “captures the complexity of both men and the intimacy of their friendship with extreme detail and sensitivity” (Publishers Weekly), from unspoken rivalries, passionate affairs, unrequited loves, struggles with the temptations of fame, and friendships lost and regained. Although Andy and Don ended their Mayberry partnership in 1965, they remained best friends for the next half-century.

Written by Don Knotts’s brother-in-law, Andy and Don is “a rewarding dual biography that is also a lively look inside the entertainment industry in the latter half of the twentieth century” (News & Observer). Entertaining and provocative, it “captures a golden moment in modern Americana. You’ll not only return again to Mayberry, you’ll feel as though you’ve never left” (Tom Shales, Pulitzer Prize–winning television critic).
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