Archives par mot-clé : network TV

AAC/CFP Les séries télévisées des networks américains dans les années 1950, 1960 et 1970 / Network TV Series in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s

Les séries télévisées des networks américains dans les années 1950, 1960 et 1970

Journée d’études, 7 mai 2018

Dans le cadre du projet Network TV

Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3, RIRRA 21

Organisée avec le soutien de GUEST-Normandie

A partir de 1948 avec le lancement aux Etats-Unis de la télévision commerciale, les trois grands Networks (CBS, NBC et ABC) ne cessent de se concurrencer en créant des programmes et des séries des plus innovants. C’est pendant les trois premières décennies de cette ‘guerre’ d’audimat et d’originalité que sont nés tous les modèles et formats importants du récit télévisuel qui ont perduré et évolué vers les programmes d’aujourd’hui, aussi bien pour les comédies que pour les séries dramatiques.

Pendant cet âge d’or de la série télévisée, c’est la sitcom qui domine à la fois le paysage télévisuel et son audimat, suivant une évolution directement liée à l’évolution de son public. Dans les années 50, lorsque seules les grandes métropoles du nord-est du pays ont accès à la télévision, les comédies sont essentiellement des adaptations d’émissions radio new-yorkaises politiquement incorrectes [e.g., I Love Lucy (1951-57), The Honeymooners (1955-56), The Phil Silvers Show (1955-59), etc.]. Puis durant les années 1960 les sitcoms deviennent plus conventionnelles et reflètent l’évolution démographique de leur public : d’abord les banlieues des familles blanches et aisées [Father Knows Best (1954-60), Leave It to Beaver (1957-63)], puis les petites villes tranquilles et conservatrices de la campagne [The Andy Griffith Show (1960-68), Gomer Pyle USMC (1964-69), etc.]. Avec les années 70, le public urbain redevient la priorité, notamment chez CBS, dont la programmation incarne différentes idées comme le pacifisme avec des séries telles que la satire M*A*S*H (1972-83), ou encore le mouvement féministe avec les séries produites par Mary Tyler Moore [The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-77), Rhoda (1973-78), Phyllis (1975-77)] et aborde divers sujets délicats ou politiquement incorrects avec les séries et spin-off de Norman Lear [All in the Family (1970-79), The Jeffersons (1975-85), One Day at a Time (1975-84) et tant d’autres]—avant de revenir vers des programmes plus nostalgiques et consensuels vers la fin de la période [Happy Days (1974-84), Laverne et Shirley (1976-83), etc.].

Pendant cette même période, les Networks ont aussi proposé un vaste éventail de séries dramatiques, qui ont marqué leur époque, même si les comédies les éclipsent en termes d’audimat, et qui servent toujours de modèle aujourd’hui. En effet, seuls les westerns ont su brièvement dépasser les sitcoms pendant les années 50 (prenant cinq des huit premières places dans l’audimat de 1957, par exemple), mais d’autres formats naissent et deviennent rapidement indispensables, tel le polar [Dragnet (1951-59)], les séries judiciaires [Perry Mason (1957-66)] ou bien les séries en milieu hospitalier [Marcus Welby, MD (1969-76)]. En même temps, bien d’autres formats seront expérimentés et perfectionnés, tel le drame fantastique ou sci-fi, soit dans sa forme anthologique [The Twilight Zone (1959-64)] soit dans sa forme sérialisée [Wild Wild West (1965-69), Star Trek (1966-69)], ainsi que des formes hybrides encore plus étonnantes, tel le polar d’enquête paranormal [Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974-75)]. Qu’il s’agisse de comédie ou de série dramatique, le résultat de cette guerre d’audience par les Networks est un immense éventail de formats télévisuels efficaces et innovants qui ont décidément résisté à l’épreuve du temps.

Aujourd’hui, lorsqu’on analyse les séries actuelles, on oublie trop souvent leurs origines, et l’impact et la pertinence dont font toujours preuve ces séries pionnières. Pour cette journée d’étude, nous invitons les participants à porter un regard nouveau sur les « vieilles séries », pour ainsi dire, afin de mieux comprendre leur importance et leur impact avec le recul de plusieurs générations. Les communications peuvent traiter tout aspect pertinent des séries des années 1950, 1960 et 1970 (dont la relation avec les autres médias (radio, cinéma, littérature), la structure narrative, les formes audiovisuelles, la dimension de critique sociale, les représentations des femmes et des minorités, le public ciblé et la réception, les liens avec les séries actuelles, les conditions de production, etc.).

Les propositions pour une communication de 30 minutes, ainsi qu’un court texte biographique, devront être envoyées à Claire Cornillon (claire.cornillon@unimes.fr) et Dennis Tredy (dennis.tredy@wanadoo.fr) avant le 12 février 2018.

Cette journée est la première d’un cycle de journées d’études et de colloques consacré aux séries américaines de network (Projet Network TV : networktv.hypotheses.org).

Comité scientifique : Claire Cornillon, Sarah Hatchuel, Guillaume Soulez, Dennis Tredy, Shannon Wells-Lassagne

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Network TV Series in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s

One-day conference, May 7th 2018

Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3, RIRRA 21

With the support of GUEST-Normandie

With the launch of commercial television in the US in 1948, the three leading networks (CBS, NBC and ABC) would battle for the top spots in the ratings by constantly trying to outdo each other in terms of popular and innovative programming. Over the next three decades, the original templates for all of the series formats that are popular today—be they comedy or drama—were established and developed.

If comedy was the first king of network TV, dominating the top ranks in the Nielson ratings throughout the three early decades, these top-rated comedies would constantly evolve. The 1950s was dominated by politically incorrect and vaudeville-inspired early sitcoms, most of which grew out of popular New York radio programs [e.g., I Love Lucy (1951-57), The Honeymooners (1955-56), The Phil Silvers Show (1955-59)]. Then came the more escapist fare of the 1960s, which moved (along with expanding TV access itself) from urban settings of the fifties to idyllic but whitewashed suburbs [e.g., Father Knows Best (1954-60), Leave It to Beaver (1957-63)] and then to the unsophisticated but ‘wholesome’ American heartland [The Andy Griffith Show (1960-68), Gomer Pyle USMC (1964-69), etc.]. The 1970s, however, brought a renewed focus on urban audiences, notably through the ‘relevancy programming’ spearheaded by CBS, who, along with its hard-hitting war satire M*A*S*H (1972-83), would weave a web of politically incorrect sitcoms and their spin-offs, all dealing with the most sensitive social topics of the time. These included the feminist series produced by Mary Tyler Moore [The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-77), Rhoda (1973-78), Phyllis (1975-77)] and Norman Lear’s many groundbreaking ‘serious comedies’ [All in the Family (1970-79), The Jeffersons (1975-85), One Day at a Time (1975-84) and so many others]—before top comedy programming again grew more nostalgic and consensual with the likes of Happy Days (1974-84) and its own spin-offs.

Though rarely taking the top-spots in the ratings, the Networks also proposed an ever-varying array of drama series that similarly developed the narrative and visual norms for modern serial television. If the most popular dramas of the 1950s were westerns (taking five of the top eight spots in 1957, for example), these would slowly be supplanted by the likes of the carefully structured crime drama [e.g., Dragnet (1951-59)] and its offspring the courtroom drama [e.g., Perry Mason (1957-66) and the medical drama [e.g., Marcus Welby, MD (1969-76)]. Similarly, new dramatic sub-genres would be explored and perfected, such as the fantasy drama, either in its weekly anthology format [e.g., The Twilight Zone (1959-64)] or in serial format for either fantasy [e.g. Wild Wild West (1965-69)] or sci-fi [e.g. Star Trek (1966-69)], or even later hybrids like the paranormal investigation series [Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974-75)]. In drama as in comedy, the drive to outdo the other networks would result in a vast array of effective and innovative formats that would stand the test of time.

Today, the impact and relevance of these pioneer programs is too often forgotten when analyzing the more sophisticated contemporary series proposed by premium or basic cable channels and, yes, even these same networks. This Network conference is thus an invitation for scholars to take a ‘new’ look at these ‘old’ programs, so that their importance and impact might be analyzed from today’s vantage point. Papers may deal with any relevant aspect of these early network series (Links with other medias (Radio, literature, cinema), innovative narrative format, aesthetics, social criticism and representation of minorities, target audiences, connections to today’s series, corporate interests behind the scenes, etc.).

Please send a proposal for a 30-minute paper and a short biographical blurb to Claire Cornillon (Claire.cornillon@unimes.fr) and Dennis Tredy (dennis.tredy@wanadoo.fr) by February 12 2018.

This one-day conference is the first event of a series of conferences on American network TV series. networktv.hypotheses.org

Troisième séance du séminaire le 14 juin

Seance 3

 

A la suite de « Red Dragon » de Thomas Harris et de « Se7en » de David Fincher, la série « MillenniuM » de Chris Carter s’est voulu une méditation sur la dimension apocalyptique du phénomène des serial killers et des profilers. Mais progressivement un second sujet de méditation est apparu : celui de la mentalité des hommes qui voient l’Apocalypse partout – voire le véritable sens de L’Apocalypse attribuée à saint Jean. Dans cette séance centrée sur une poignée d’épisodes des deux premières saisons (le pilote, « Powers, Principalities, Thrones and Dominions », « Beware the Dog », « Anamnesis », « The Fourth Houseman » et « The Time is Now »), nous allons voir ce que Franck Black a à nous apprendre sur nous, sur notre présence sur la Terre, sur le commencement du monde et sur sa fin, et sur les relations entre serial killers et séries télévisées.

Séance 1 : The Early Days of the Network Wars, by Dennis Tredy

The Early Days of the Network Wars:

The Rise of American TV Networks and Key Battles for Primetime Ratings

Dennis Tredy (Paris III)

If the mid-twentieth century was, internationally, a time of armed conflict (The Spanish Civil War, World War II, the Korean War and The Vietnam War), there was quite another type of war being fought for dominance of America’s commercial airwaves. It involved a long series of ruthless battles that began with radio and that quickly spilled over into the world of television, and that led to the creation of three superpowers—that is, the three major TV networks of NBC, CBS and ABC—who would rule the industry virtually unopposed for nearly half a century, and who would constantly fight tooth and nail with each other in order to win the never-ending ratings war and its financial spoils. If the ‘big three’ networks, today, have a difficult time staying relevant in a vast world of cable, streaming and on demand television, they nearly single-handedly ran the television industry in the United States for sixty years, were the instigators and custodians of all its major developments over time and made America’s TV culture what it is today.

The goal of this presentation will thus be to go back to the early days of television to demonstrate how the three major television networks rose to power in the industry and did battle with each other on many different fronts. The first was a two-fold battle for patents and technical dominance on one hand, and for commercial television and the right to have paying sponsors on the other, and it pitted the U.S. government, through the FCC, against the emerging industry leader on both of these fronts, RCA-NBC. Before programming itself really became an issue, NBC’s founder David Sarnoff, aptly known as ‘Brigadier General Sarnoff’, boldly overcame one obstacle after another (changing technology, new government regulations, court and even Supreme Court battles and anti-trust cases) and emerged from the wartime hold on development as the undisputed industry giant—at least until programming and content became the new battlefront in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s.

For CBS president William Paley, known as the ‘Impresario’, quickly understood that he could not beat NBC on the technology front and instead focused on popular programming and star power—even if it meant using some creative accounting to steal the biggest names on contract with NBC. It was Paley’s CBS that demonstrated that TV, in terms of content, would be both an extension of and an improvement on radio, successfully adapting all of the most popular radio shows to television and becoming a ratings leader. Second-tier networks were thus fighting for survival when focus turned to content and ratings, and the field quickly narrowed when some could not adapt, like the ill-fated DuMont Network (once the fourth horseman in terms of American TV networks, long before FOX joined the hunt), who hoped for more educational programming and who, having not been in radio, had no ready-made content or stars on contract. However, another smaller network would successfully find its own niche—that of youth programming and broadcasting major studio films—through its merger with Paramount Pictures in 1952. ABC’s new president, Leonard Goldenson, would then apply the same marketing methods he had used at Paramount to draw in huge audiences of younger viewers and match the ratings of the two mastodons, NBC and CBS.

Once the field had been limited to these three superpowers, the ratings war began in earnest, and it became a question of finding the right content for an ever-expanding audience and ever-changing national demographic. As this paper will show, the first ratings weapon of choice was decidedly comedy, with all three networks throwing their primetime investment into an effort to tickle America’s funny bone. Thus NBC focused on Vaudeo (live variety programs mixing comedy sketches, guest stars and music), while CBS would emphasize the sitcom and its purloined star power, with ABC adapting the sitcom format to younger audiences and opting for teen dance shows like American Bandstand over the older variety format dominant at NBC. From the 1950’s, the ratings war would rage on between the three networks for generations, but one network would manage to stay on top for nearly three decades. What was their secret weapon? It was simply the ability to abruptly change programming when the winds of change started to blow among U.S. audiences, even if it meant cancelling a number-one show overnight. Thus comedy programs over time would switch from irreverent, urban and ethnic comedy, to comedic quiz shows, to conservative rural comedy, to escapist supernatural sitcoms, and finally to hard-hitting and politically incorrect ‘relevancy’ sitcoms—keeping a certain network number one through to the late 1970’s. Other networks would mark smaller victories by adapting to other fads—including the adult western, noiresque crime drama, superhero series, etc.— but only one network could be said to have won the ratings war…

Programme du séminaire – Saison 1, 2016

Séance 1 : 24 mars, 14h – 17h, Université du Havre, Salle Olympe de Gouges

Claire Cornillon : En guise d’introduction, quelques mots sur Beauty and the Beast (1987)

Dennis Tredy : The Early Days of the Network Wars: The Rise of American TV Networks and Key Battles for Primetime Ratings

Séance 2 : 29 avril, 13h – 16h, Université du Havre, salle D208

Florent Favard : L’école Bad Robot/Abrams : identité et influence d’un univers audiovisuel

Vladimir Lifschutz : 24 : l’influence de l’anti-héros des networks sur la télévision

Séance 3 : 14 juin, 14h – 16h, Université du Havre, Salle Olympe de Gouges

Pacôme Thiellement : « Puissances, principautés, trônes et dominations »  (A propos de Millennium)