A Critical Analysis of Picket Fences:
Season 1, Episode 18
“The Body Politic”
After working on L.A. Law as a writer and story editor for five seasons, lawyer-turned-writer Dave E. Kelley wanted to focus on a show of his own. The show was an hour-long dramedy based around the family of the sheriff of the fictitious town of Rome, Wisconsin. CBS worked a deal out with Kelley and the first episode of Picket Fences aired on September 18, 1992. Combining high drama, low humor, controversial issues, and some of the most memorable plotlines and characters television has ever seen, Picket Fences ran for four seasons, winning fourteen Emmy awards and two Golden Globes. This paper serves as a critical analysis, defining and exploring how different aspects of Picket Fences worked together to create one of the best television shows of the last few decades.
THESIS AND LOGLINE
The thesis of the show can be found within the title. The white picket fence is a symbol associated with happy suburban living. It symbolizes the American Dream: a fulfilling job, a sizable stable income, and a nice house filled with a happy family. The basic theme of Picket Fences is that underneath all the guise of prosperity and happiness, life is weirder and a lot more complicated than people let on. It looks at where one person’s rights begin and another’s end, which is appropriate as fences are often used to mark boundaries. Ordinary people struggle with complicated ethical and moral issues every day and the answers are not always easy. David Lynch used the symbol of a picket fence ironically in his 1986 film Blue Velvet, which explored the dark underbelly of a suburban neighborhood. While the title of the show may be viewed as ironic, the show does not treat its content ironically. It creates real characters that are usually trying to do the right thing or to understand their own prejudices against others. The problem is that the “right thing” is not always clear.
The logline for the show is: an aging sheriff tries to keep the peace in a small town plagued by bizarre and violent crimes. As the sheriff, it is Jimmy’s job to keep the town under control and the focus of the show usually revolves around him and his family. While perhaps simplified, the logline does an adequate job of describing the basic premise of Picket Fences. The use of the word “bizarre” also prepares the audience for the use of unconventional plotlines.
The anime horror television series, Vampire Princess Miyu, turns 22 this year. It’s a weird anniversary to note, but appropriate for a series that didn’t get a 10th or 20th-year celebration. Despite being one of the better series to come out of Studio AIC in the ’90s, over two decades later, it seems to be largely forgotten in the US. What was Vampire Princess Miyu? Why did it disappear? Is it worth remembering?
Welcome to Miyu’s Dark Realm
Vampire Princess Miyu is a 26-episode television series that aired on TV Tokyo from 7 October 1997 to 31 March 1998. It was originally a manga series created by manga artist and director Narumi Kakinouchi and her husband, Toshiki Hirano. It ran for ten volumes between 1988 and 2002. Aside from the television series, it produced several spin-off series, as well as a four-episode Original Video Animation (OVA), in 1988.
Kakinouchi and Hirano have both worked in the anime and manga industry for decades in various positions. Kakinouchi is mainly known as a manga artist, with her most popular work being Vampire Princess Miyu. Hirano directed the Miyu OVA and TV series; he’s probably known best for directing Magic Knight Rayearth.
When I think of Structural film my mind goes right to Paul Sharits’ T,O,U,C,H,I,N,G. This is probably due to the fact that T,O,U,C,H,I,N,G meets all of Sitney’s requirements to be considered structural. It was also the only film that I feel physically assaulted me so, that probably helps it stand out in my mind. Going forward into my perception of structural films, I think of slow, simple, often intentionally frustrating films where the form is more important than the content. I enjoyed Shirley Clarke’s Bridges-Go-Round, though it didn’t exactly fit my understanding of the definition of structural film. I’m going to analyze the film in terms of Sitney’s definition of structural film and then give a personal response to the work overall.
Sitney states that there are four characteristics inherent to structural film. The first characteristic is that the camera is fixed. The camera does not tilt, pan, or zoom: it stays static throughout. The second characteristic is that there is a strobe or flicker effect used. Looping, or repetition, is the third characteristic. Lastly, some type of retouching needs to be done to the film in post-production. While not listed directly by Sitney, it is usually the case that structural films value form over content.
In the beginning, there was this show on Comedy Central called Brickleberry. I never really watched it. It got canceled. And I guess the creators just got a new show on Netflix called Paradise PD.
The series appropriately follows the misadventures of the police department in the titular city of Paradise. The characters that make up the police department are as deep as any paper plate. There’s black cop, woman cop, fat guy cop, old cop, drug-addicted dog cop, the chief, and his bumbling-but-well-meaning son
Each episode follows the Paradise PD as they solve a case or face a dilemma of some kind. While each episode is mostly independent, there are some ongoing serialized plot threads that come together, especially during the tenth and final episode of this season.
Is Revolutionary Girl Utena A White Savior Series?
The first issue I have with reading Utena as a white savior title is that I’m not quite sure Utena is actually white. Caucasians tend to see anime characters as caucasian because to them, that’s the default race. To the Japanese, they’re Japanese. Also, all the characters in the show speak the Japanese language, have Japanese names, understand Japanese customs, etc…
While Anthy and Akio have a darker skin tone than the other characters in the show, I can’t think of a single instance where their skin color had any impact on any of the happenings in the story. Race is never even acknowledged. I’m sure an argument could be made for the other side, but I honestly think people are grasping at straws when they’re looking for commentary on race or racial relations in this series. This brings us to a white savior title in which the probably-not -white character saves the maybe-kinda-Indian character in a narrative where race has no real meaning. That doesn’t quite fit the bill, does it?
Amazon Japan now ships tons of items to the United States. However, if you don’t know Japanese, ordering from the site can seem a little overwhelming. I’ve created a step-by-step guide on how to order from the site in English. It’s a lot easier than you’d think.
First, navigate to the Amazon Japan site.
Next, scroll down to the bottom of the page and find the little globe icon.
I’ve been play an awful lot of Animal Crossing lately. I made two interesting observations about the music and I thought I’d share them.
The music heard in the shop on the island
Criterion has announced that they will be releasing Kieślowski’s masterpiece The Decalogue on DVD and Blu-ray on September 27, 2016. The film features a 4K transfer and tons of extras, including the full-length versions of A Short Film About Killing and A Short Film About Love.
This ten-part series originally aired in Poland in 1989 before being released worldwide. Each part is an hour-long short film dealing with a different commandment in a loose way. Each story is complex and very moving. The Decalogue has been released in the US before by Facets, but the quality left a lot to be desired. This is one of my absolute favorite films from one of my absolute favorite directors, so I’m ecstatic we’re finally getting a 4K restoration from Criterion.
Blacklight was a complicated album. The music was darker and subtler than the three Iris studio albums before it. It was slower, more ambient and not as immediately accessible. That fact, combined with the overt religious references in the lyrics seemed to create a kind of divide among fans. I wasn’t initially impressed with Blacklight myself, but after repeated listens the genius of the album eventually shined through. It’s an amazing album, albeit a grower.