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Monday, September 26, 2011

Task 2 - Children's Drama

2. Report on the narrative and characterization used in an episode of a children’s drama of your choice #narrative [22.1]

: The children’s drama I have chosen to do is My Parents Are Aliens. For this particular series, I have chosen just 1 episode, titled “Neighbours from hell”. In the report to follow, I will explain how this episode/series was made to be aimed at children and how it would appeal to them, what children's reactions may be to the episode, and what about the programme in general shows it has been made for children.
Narrative and Characterisation
: This particular programme is an appeal to children as it demonstrates many family and home life features. Also there is separate appeal such as, mischief (Shown primarily through the 2 males in the programme. Josh (Alex Kew) - Brother, and Brain Johnson (Tony Gardner) - Dad). There is also a vast amount of alien features presented in the programme which draw attention to youngsters.

We know that this programme is made for children just by referring/looking at the diegesis of the programme. The world that is created in the series is very fast moving home life, with a mix of events as there are alien parents with different lifestyles to the 3 adopted children.

We know this from watching the opening sequence to the programme. It clearly shows a spaceship with 2 alien species on board that have crash landed onto planet earth. The spaceship then follows on to transform/morph into a house, and the 2 aliens then transform/morph into clear looking human beings. Just this affect on its own could be appealing but would be hard to notice. Then to boost appeal, a soundtrack is introduced to the intro scene which suddenly makes the programme more interesting and child friendly.

The use of animation also shows that the programme may be more suited for children. We know this from watching cartoons and animated films. When watching the programme, I expected to see happy family life, alien technology being used and weirdly overdressed people/house. Although there was a family life within the household, only a couple of the female members, Lucy (Charlotte Francis) – Younger sister, and Sophie (Carla Mendonca) – Mother, were shown as being bubbly and happy most of the way through the episode.

The use of alien technology was set to a minimum in this particular episode. On the other hand, the amount of strange/weird clothing that is being worn was at a high. Brian and Sophie were both dressed in military uniforms. The reason behind this is to promote the war they have started with the new next door neighbours.

When I looked at the verisimilitude of the episode, it was believable. As a child, you can watch this programme and believe the story involved. The reason for this is because children can relate to the weird, out of pace, uncontrolled family life in which the episode is believed to run. The point of the programmes are not to make children act like the actors do but to allow the children to see and understand what their lifestyle is like in their homes. The twist in the programme in general is that the parents are aliens. I personally believe that the programme uses an unrestricted narrative range as it informs viewers of what’s happening, why it’s happening and how they are going to accomplish the task.

Now moving on, I am going to talk about the location where the programme was set. In this particular episode there were 3 locations. The main location as with most episodes was the house the characters live in. The second location was the school. There was a total of 2 scenes at the school, both of these scenes involved Lucy and the Young male that had moved in next door. The third location was at the neighbour’s house. This one was a particularly short scene, which had the mother and father of the young male and Lucy.

Reviewing the character's

·         Sophie – Sophie is tall, has red hair, she wears bright cloths with very outstanding colours. She acts very dumb.
·         Brian – Brian is also tall, he has brown hair, and He wears plain coloured shirts and often changes into some weird costumes. He also acts very dumb, but comes up with great ideas.
·         Josh – Josh is young but acts like the mature male adult of the family. He is short and has red hair. He likes to make conversations short and simple, and usually has an answer for everything.
·         Lucy – Lucy is very short but carries the brains in the family. She comes up with all the ideas but can be very quite when it comes to boys and school work. (She gets things done). Lucy has brown hair and is commonly seen in a school uniform more than casual clothing.
: There are 2 other characters present in the show but because they are new, I have chosen not to put them into the assignment.

The particular programme would be classed as having an episodic narrative. I know this because a single event happens which then turn into a multitude of other events. One event leading off to several others. For example, in this episode, Brian takes the roses; the neighbour comes around looking for them. From this point a war is set in motion and the neighbour is looking for the culprit. Brian then decides it’s his job to take down the neighbour. This then involves a canon in the attic and Sophie looking through trash for clues.
I will now go on to talk about the narrative depth within the series. I think subjective character identification would be the correct narrative depth for this programme we are seeing what the characters see and do. It would not come under objective character identification because we do not see the characters dreams, fantasies and memories.
Here I am going to explain what the three theories have in place with the programme.
The first one is Vladimir Propps theory. Vladimir uses the classifications of character’s to define their roles and functions.
In this case I would make the list something like this:

-          The Hero – Brian – He seeks war/revenge on his neighbour.
-          The Villain – The neighbour – Seeks war/revenge on Brian.
-          The Donor – Sophie – Seeks to help Brian in his plans for war/revenge.
-          The Helper – Sophie – Seeks to help Brian in his plans for war/revenge.

I believe that only these four are in the programme.
That leaves the princess, the dispatcher and the false hero to be uncategorized.
In the next theory, I will be covering Tzvetan Todorov’s theory. He believes that most, if not all narratives start with a state of normality which is soon to be disrupted (Equilibrium).
In this case it would run something like the following:

-          Story starts with Brian removing the roses from the new neighbour’s garden.
-          The neighbour knocks on the door wondering if anyone knows where they may be disappearing to.
-          Brian then makes the comment which changes the normality of the scenario. (equilibrium changes)
-          Brian the wages war and spies on the neighbour’s.
-          Cuts scene and the neighbour are once again knocking on Brian’s door. Josh answers and the neighbour charges in to find his roses scattered in Brian’s front room while Brian is sitting there amongst them.
-          Anger is once again shown on the neighbour’s face and Brian is threatened with a call to the police for theft of private property.
-          Lucy later resolves the problem by speaking to the neighbours and striking a deal. (Equilibrium is resolved).

With the third and final theory, I shall explain the 4 narratives that Allan Cameron came up with. I will describe all four and how they are used below but will point out which one is used with the chosen programme. The first one is:

-          Anachronic – Anachronic narratives are used when flashbacks and flash-forwards are required, this is without the use of any clear dominant narratives. One possible example could be the Final Destination Film Collection.

The next is:

-          Forking-Path – This narrative is used when there are alternative versions of a story, these versions can head into any direction and the outcome could lead into minor changes in single or group events.

The next narrative on the list is episodic. This is the narrative that is used when referring to my report.

-          Episodic – This narrative is used when a single event is turned into multiple events, one event leading off to several others.

Finally the last narrative is split screen.

-          This narrative is used to divide a film into 2 or more scenes that happen at the same period of time, but in different moments/time.

Task 1 - Children's Drama

TASK 1: Single Camera Formats           [1.1, 2.1, 22.1]
Collect background material on Children’s drama series.
1.    a report on the conventions of the genre (form and content) #conventions [1.1, 22.1]


: I am going to write a report on codes and conventions of the genre: Children’s drama. This will cover what this particular children’s drama has to stick to, the things I expect to happen, the things I expect to see, and the rules which must be followed when creating a children’s drama.

First I am going to cover the rules that you must follow.

-          The set must be safe at all times. You cannot allow children onto a set knowing that there are dangerous objects in the immediate area. If anything was to happen, the drama could be jeopardised and there may be claims made against the company responsible. This is very bad for any company as costs will rise and members of the cast will be lost.
-          Leading of from the first point, you will require having a license to support children coming onto the set. Having this license will also permit children to be on set for a period of time. This period is designated by the creator of the license.

There is health and safety, safe working practices but I will cover this more in task 3. For the moment I will give a short brief into what is to follow.
Health and safety
Smoking, Drinking and drug use
Sexual scenes
….. And much more!

This Drama series has to stick to the children’s drama genre. It has to appeal to children and entertain them for further viewing purposes. It will show children a mirror image of what they or someone else may be like, Showing happiness, sadness, joy, activities e.g. sports day at school.

When watching a children’s drama, I visualise a scene either in a house or school with children running around in a playground, or young lads play fighting in a bedroom or house. I expect to see colourful images and sets with games and clothing smothered everywhere. I expect children to be wearing school clothes and different emotions for different characters/roles.

I expect to hear and see a loud environment with quick movement and a fair share of laughter and joy amongst the children. In some cases, there may be slight cases of comedy but mostly entertainment on a level that children can appreciate and understand. In some cases there may be magical enchantment, aliens or even explosions which entertain the young mind even more.