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TV CRIME DRAMA

Conventions

HOMEWORK 2: CONVENTIONS ANALYSIS CHART

NAME:

Choice of TV programme/series: PRIME SUSPECT

Episode title/date: Part 6 Helen Mirren in Prime Suspect: The Lost Child 1995

General description and analysis points


Detective Jane Tennison; brave, determined, intelligent, tough but vulnerable. Simple suits, shirts, short hair. Typical world-weary detective but a woman in a man s world. Single, lives alone, drinks too much and is difficult to work with. Team of male police officers in support. Vulnerable victims, often young, female, dead or at risk of death. Angry male suspects. Inner city London cold, dark, damp streets, isolated buildings Police station - incident room, interview room, corridors - functional, cold, unfriendly. Crime scenes wasteland areas, empty houses, car parks, building sites isolated, dark, make her seem vulnerable. Autopsy lab white, cold, clinical. Settings represent the serious, dark nature of the crimes she investigates Serial killing, child kidnap, rape. Continuous narrative across 10 episodes, consistent characters throughout. Always has a prime suspect from the start, occasionally proved wrong and another victim dies, but always resolved in the end. Episodes usually end on a cliff hanger, followed by a trail for the next episode. Police lineups, interviews, meetings, rushing about, on the phone, visiting suspects. Naturalistic, dingy, cold style. Shot in a naturalistic way, using camera movement, establishing shots, and close ups for moments of tension, emotion. Realistic, everyday props, costumes, accents. Contrasting settings to provide interest. Has a 90s feel. Slow, tense editing for emotional scenes, but fast paced when action develops. Sounds add realism, everyday noises. Southern accents, linked to setting.

Specific example from the episode

use an example to illustrate the points you have made in the first column
Jane appears unemotional about the discovery of the body, direct and functional in the way she speaks to the male forensics doctor. Later though, she is emotional when talking to her team back at the incident room and her composure cracks for a moment. The victim is a female child, and the mother is seen crying, helpless. Male suspect, smoking, disturbing. Jane is seen with a police and forensics crew as the body of a dead baby is found in the river. It is a depressing scene, grey, damp and cold. The setting matches the mood of the episode which is about child kidnap and the trauma for the mother when she finds out her child is dead. Incident room is functional, a normal office, quite messy. Strip lighting quite harsh and high key. Very dark theme of child abduction. Suspect is shown on a police interview tape talking about abused children appears guilty, but in fact isn t. Discovery of the body leads Jane to put pressure on the team to resolve the case. She is drained because she recently had an abortion, hasn t had the chance to recover physically or emotionally before having to deal with a dead baby case, so the audience understands her vulnerability The river scene is dark, cold, depressing. De-saturated look makes everything feel grimy and depressing. Titles at start are plain white, and music is tense, sad and serious at river scene and in funeral parlour. Lots of technology in office computers, photocopier, but very 90s in style. Phones ringing. Contrast to the funeral parlour where the mother finds out about the baby low key light, candles, soft, religious glow, very quiet. Male suspect shot in harsh, unflattering close-up, sinister tone.

Characters

Settings

Narratives

Style

Is it TV Crime Drama? Yes Is it conventional? Yes, for British TV crime drama, in many ways including characters, settings, narratives and style. What s its USP? A female lead detective in a typically male role. This was unusual at the time, in the mid-90 s and was considered groundbreaking for the decade.

TV CRIME DRAMA

HOMEWORK 2: CONVENTIONS ANALYSIS CHART

NAME:

Choice of TV programme/series: PRIME SUSPECT

Episode title/date: Part 6 Helen Mirren in Prime Suspect: The Lost Child 1995