Part of the Blackwell Studies in Film and Television series, this short book analyzes the massively influential CBS crime drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. In an era of increasing cultural fragmentation, CSI has been resolutely “mainstream” popular television; this dichotomy intrigued me. Although this series has been critically overshadowed by more audacious fare, it also provided one of the dominant templates for American television in the 2000s. Moreover, it (at least in its prime) is an aesthetically and ideologically rich text in its own right. In this book, I explore its hyperstylized production of visibility (in both its aesthetics and narrative structure), its multiple representations of Las Vegas, its serialized depiction of professional lives, and its ambivalent impact on the cultures of science and law.
Rerun Nation: How Repeats Invented American Television
This book traces the cultural and industrial history of reruns as a critical component of American television. I start by considering the implications of copyright and print culture in the 18th and 19th centuries, which lay down important precedents for the market in repeats, i.e., a regime of repetition. This logic was later extended into the new forms of radio and television, which–despite a seemingly dominant basis in “live” broadcasting–came to rely primarily upon recordings. By the early 1960s, a substantial market in selling off-network reruns to local TV stations had been established, resulting in a TV landscape in which the past and present were simultaneous, and an entire culture of TV nostalgia which became particularly influential in the 1970s and 1980s. In more recent years, reruns have fueled the expansion of cable networks and filled bookshelves as DVD box sets. Today, in the era of online video streaming, the many decades of old TV series still serve as significant cultural touchstones and valuable industrial properties.