Televisuality: Bstyle, Crisis, and Authority in American
by John Thornton Caldwell; Rutgers University Press, 1995
It is commonly understood in industry parlance today that each show should
have its own "look."
Even relatively traditional-looking and visually restrained shows like Cagney
and Lacey postured an identifiable visual stance. The show's
DP explains how taking over the show also meant taking over the burden of its
established look. "They wanted a more visual look, and to me that meant they
wanted more contrast."
After choosing a film stock that gave them this contrast, the company also
intentionally used long lenses in "over half of the shots" in the 1986-1987 season in
order "to flatten space." In addition to the practical effect of making downtown
L.A. look like New York, both devices (long lenses and contrasty stock) helped to
stylistically individuate the show. In competition with other prime-time shows, this
artificially constructed sense of place and geography were merely part of the
overall effect that resulted from the show's distinctive stylization.
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