Wilcox and Lavery (2002) identify 9 defining characteristics of “quality TV” – can you apply any of these to other television series that you have viewed recently? Are there any other characteristics that you could add to their list?
According to Wilcox and Lavery (2002), there are nine characteristics of quality TV.
Before analysing those characteristics, I tried to figure out what is the definition of “quality TV”. Quality TV is a term for describing a genre of television programming that considered as a high quality piece owing to its content, style or subject matter to television scholars, broadcasting advocacy groups, and television critics (Caldwell, 1995). Since I used to watch Korean drama in my spare time, I found out that South Korean woman script-writer, Jae-Jung Song’s drama, Memories of the Alhambra contains some of these characteristics of “Quality TV”.
The reasons why her dramas are considered as a quality TV with regard to Wilcox and Lavery’s (2002) defining characteristics of quality TV:
Jae-Jung Song’s filmography
The first characteristic of quality TV is that the script writers have their own filmographies that had succeeded before (Wilcox and Lavery, 2002). One of Jae-Jung Song’s recent dramas, Memories of the Alhambra (2018) was highly expected among K-drama lovers since her last dramas such as W (2016), and Nine (2013) became popular since the subjects were extremely impressive as her drama always interestingly demonstrate the world that people can travel through time and space. People who loves her dramas were impressed by the shocking reversal and plot lines that lingers in their mind.
Large amount of budgets and non-appreciative audiences
Although most of audiences were interested by her drama’s quality statistically as Memories of Alhambra’s highest rating was 13.592 percent (AGB Nielsen Media Research, 2018), not all of the audiences were enjoyed or entertained by her drama. Especially, those audiences who were not satisfied about this drama said that the ending scene was confusing as well as the foreshadowing of this drama had not explained properly enough through it. Wilcox and Lavery (2002) said that acceptance of criticism is one of the behaviours that quality TV should do. Also, the production team had budgeted 20 billion US dollars on producing Memories of Alhambra (Top star news, 2018). Therefore, despite its popularity, the production team had to search the best way to satisfy audiences’ demands to be entertained by the drama as well as the profits which has been expected to exceed the budgets they had spent. The quality TV also care about generating the profits (Wilcox and Lavery, 2002).
Different characters and Casting actors and actresses
The quality TV casts many actors and actresses who play the important role (Wilcox and Lavery, 2002). Memories of the Alhambra casts the famous South Korean actor, Hyun Bin as Yoo Jin-woo, the CEO of investment company called “J One Holdings; Doctor of Engineering who is talented at developing games” (Memories of the Alhambra, 2018). Moreover, Park Shin-hye as Jung Hee-joo and Emma (the key character to solve the mysterious VR game’s violence and danger). The female protagonist, Jung Hee-joo is the owner of Bonita Hostel. A former classic guitarist who came to Spain for further studies, but took on several jobs there to sustain livelihood following the death of her parents. She has artistic sensibility but zero financial sense. Her brother, ‘Jung Se-joo’ is also the important character in this drama although he is not considered as a main character since he is the fountainhead of the whole situations to be happened which means he was the mysterious VR game developer. The actor of Jung Se-joo is a K-pop idol, and this was the hot issue of this drama as well. There are antagonists, other supporting characters, and even cameos from previous dramas that Jae-Jung Song wrote. Like this, the casting of the show is the important part when considering it as the quality TV.
“Quality TV has a memory” (Wilcox and Lavery, 2002).
Latest episodes of the quality TV are throwing back to the past episodes that had reminded audiences of current situation is happening now to protagonists because they did something in the past. It is pretty much like cause and effect. Memories of the Alhambra also throwing back to past that why Se-joo created the character of Emma who has exactly same appearance as his sister in the game as well as every time when Francisco Tárrega’s eponymous classical guitar piece Recuerdos de la Alhambra has been played, the virtual enemies of the games appear and actually fight with the players in the real world and they are actually damaged by the virtual enemies. (Cho, & Kim, & Ahn, 2018)
Most importantly, “quality TV creates a new genre by mixing old ones” (Wilcox and Lavery, 2002).Memories of the Alhambra is the genre of fantasy, suspense, sci-fi, romance, as well as melodrama. Besides, all of those genres are harmonized in the drama quite well. As mentioned, the script writer of this drama played an important role. However, she said that the VR game, ‘Pokemon Go’ inspired her to set the basic plot line of this drama (Kim, 2019). Therefore, although Wilcox and Lavery (2002) argue that literary and writer-based sources can influence the quality TV, I could say that trendy entertainments could also contribute to produce the quality TV.
AGB Nielsen Media Research (in Korean). (2018). AGB daily ratings: This links to current day-select the date from drop down menu. Retrieved from http://www.nielsenkorea.co.kr/tv_terrestrial_day.asp?menu=Tit_1&sub_menu=3_1&area=00
Caldwell, J.T. (1995). Televisuality: Style, crisis, and authority in American television. Rutgers University Press (p. 67).
Cho, H., & Kim, S. (Producer), & Ahn, G. (Director). (2018). Memories of the Alhambra [Television series]. South Korea: Studio Dragon & Chorokbaem Media.
Kim, M. (2019, January 15). [N interview] ‘알함브라’ 송재정 작가가 밝힌 #증강현실 #느린 전개 #현빈(종합). Retrieved from http://news1.kr/articles/?3525060
Top Star News (in Korean). (2018, December 12). Memories of the Alhambra, 20 billion US dollar of budget… The existence of original work receives an attention since it’s got the highest ratings (in Korean). Retrieved from http://www.topstarnews.net/news/articleView.html?idxno=544106
Wilcox, R. & Lavery, D. (2002). Introduction, in R. Wilcox & D. Lavery (eds.) Fighting the Forces: What’s at Stake in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield.
What role does Hills (2004) suggest fans play in the construction of cult TV? How is new media now central to this? Discuss with examples.
According to Hill (2004), there are three characteristics that can define cult TV – firstly, textual analysis; secondly, inter-textual analysis; and lastly, fan audiences. The author especially emphasized that the particular fandoms of cult TV thoroughly influence on its success. Those fandoms are somehow similar to soap fans. However, while soap fans are into industrial genre such as romance comedy, cult TV fans are focusing on the genre of ‘cult’ itself. Cult TV fans are not just simply watching ‘TV’, but they are actually love to criticize it, write a fan fiction about it, as well as inspire cult TV’s producers with their thoughts. Therefore, the plot of cult TV is written with the engagement of the cult TV fandoms (Hill, 2004).
Before I analyse what new media does to focus on this phenomenon (fans role of media production), I wonder what is the definition of ‘new media’. Southeastern University (2016) cited from Robert Rogan that ‘new media’ is “digital media that are interactive, incorporate two-way communication and involve some form of computing” (Southeastern University, 2016). Therefore, the importance of ‘new media’ is linked to ‘interaction’.
Like new media itself significantly cares about interaction between individuals, it also cares about the fandom of cult TV (Hill, 2004). They are more like maniac than fan because the genre of ‘cult TV’ is sometimes hard-core and cannot understandable as well as most people either like it or not. There are few people who take a neutral attitude, but still, as cult TV’s plot is written to suit the tastes of fandoms (Hill, 2004), the people who are not in the fandom cannot understand or enjoy the story at all.
Once, I went to the movie theatre to watch “Sherlock: The Abominable Bride (2016)”. I could say that I enjoyed the movie although I am not a big fan of the “Sherlock Holmes” series. However, I could not understand the special post-credit scene because it was added for the Sherlock Holmes fandom. It was not interesting at all as well as overall impression of that movie was slightly looking downward for me because I could neither laugh nor impressed by that scene. However, Sherlock Holmes series’ fans seemed like enjoying it. Thus, cult TV is definitely focusing on interacting with its own existing fandom rather than conquering new fans. Personally, I guess bringing the new fans is also difficult for cult TV since there are many seasons and episodes which had already released long time ago, and it is impossible to watch those episodes all together at the same time for new fans. It takes time. This phenomenon similarly occurs to those fandoms of “Doctor Who (2005)”, “Star Trek (1966)”, and “Buffy: The Vampire Slayer (1997)” et cetera.
de Kloet and van Zoonen (2007) suggests that fandom “constitutes an alternative economy outside the mainstream” (p. 328). As I mentioned, fandom is necessary, especially for cult TV producers since they introduce their productions in various ways such as writing a fan fiction of it, or just simply involve their friends into watching it together. Cult TV is obviously maniac as well as the producers of cult TV are targeting the previous fans rather than gathering new fans. However, those ‘previous fans’ could help cult TV industries to be paid enough for their efforts to satisfy their fans and even introducing them the new fans.
de Kloet, H.J., & van Zoonen, E.A. (2007). Fan culture: Performing difference. Media studies: Key issues and debates (1st ed., pp. 322-341). London, UK: Routledge.
Hills, M. (2004). Defining cult TV; Texts, inter-texts and fan audiences, in R. C. Allen & A. Hill (eds.) The Television Studies Reader. London and New York: Routledge.
Southeastern University. (2016, February 15). What is new media?. Retrieved September 19, 2019, from https://online.seu.edu/articles/what-is-new-media/