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
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
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,
characters and Casting actors and actresses
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.
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
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
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.
(2016, February 15). What is new media?. Retrieved September 19, 2019, from https://online.seu.edu/articles/what-is-new-media/