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Series … and men – Excerpt from the “HBO Concept”: A slogan sometimes frowned upon

To accompany the release of my essay “The HBO concept”, I suggest that you reproduce each week a symptomatic extract of the different themes addressed by the book. Today, a critical exercise in criticism itself, which consists in clarifying the contours and redefining a provocative slogan which is so often frowned upon: “It’s Not TV. It’s HBO. “

“” After all these years when HBO’s brand image
aimed to distinguish itself from that of networks, [Jeff] Bewkes and [Chris]
Albrecht made a major concession to the commercial television model: they
opted to broadcast episodes series on a weekly basis. ”

This remark by Christopher Anderson, pointing here
blame the hidden side of the strategic reversal operated by HBO in 1995, says
long on the incomprehension that could arouse the promotional campaign “non-televisual” launched officially by the chain the following year. Because the latter
never intended to cut bridges in an unacceptable way with his
medium – in essence, HBO East of television – in the same way as
the directors of the New Wave may have pilloried ” quality
French ” and papa’s cinema in the mid-1950s, they never used it
no less cameras and film to shoot their own films, and
movie theaters to screen them. Furthermore, we have seen that HBO did not have
waited for the year of grace 1995 to (co) produce and broadcast television series
in 30 or 45 minute format, which requires further nuancing of the “concession” to the commercial television model hastily denounced by Anderson.
By his ostentatious liberties and his will to change the face of
American television, it would be fairer to say that HBO is questioning the
TV series asart, most often considered minor in the
journalistic (non-specialized) and academic circles before
cable chain positioning premium in the niche market
of a series that wants to be both adult
and prestigious. “

The HBO concept. Raising the TV series to the level of art, by Benjamin Campion. Presses Universitaires François-Rabelais, coll. “Serial”. 234 pages, 25 €. ISBN: 978-2-86906-680-9.

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