Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-viii

The Philosophy of TV Noir was designed to present original essays on the most important noir television series, from Dragnet and Naked City to The Sopranos and 24. Though sufficient as a stand-alone contribution to the study of philosophy, popular culture, and media studies, our book complements...

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An Introduction to the Philosophy of TV Noir

Steven M. Sanders

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pp. 1-30

Television is the definitive medium of popular culture. With its mass audience, TV has become indispensable for transmitting the legacy of film noir and producing new forms of noir. The Philosophy of TV Noir was conceived in the belief that the themes, styles, and sensibilities of film noir are preserved...

Part 1: Realism, Relativism, and Moral Ambiguity

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Dragnet, Film Noir, and Postwar Realism

R. Barton Palmer

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pp. 33-48

Conceived by radio actor Jack Webb, who also starred and directed, Dragnet was one of the longest-running and most critically acclaimed dramatic series of 1950s American television, with a phenomenal total of 263 episodes broadcast from 1952-1959 and a reprise (for which there was little precedent...

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Naked City: The Relativist Turn in TV Noir

Robert E. Fitzgibbons

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pp. 49-68

Film noir s evolution from the silver screen to the television screen was untidy at best; and this is nowhere more evident than in the transition from the feature-length movie The Naked City (Jules Dassin, 1948) to the TV show of the same title some ten years later. Although the movie was not the best of...

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John Drake in Greeneland: Noir Themes in Secret Agent

Sander Lee

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pp. 69-82

The television series Secret Agent, though regarded as mere entertainment by most viewers, contains philosophical themes that raise it above most television shows of its time and connect it with themes found in such noir espionage films as The Third Man (Carol Reed, 1949) and Ministry of Fear...

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Action and Integrity in The Fugitive

Aeon J. Skoble

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pp. 83-92

The Fugitive aired on ABC from 1963 to 1967 and starred David Janssen in the title role of Dr. Richard Kimble, on the run from the law, wanted for a crime he did not commit. It was classic TV noir, both stylistically and thematically. In terms of the noir aesthetic—the first three seasons were...

Part 2: Existentialism, Nihilism, and the Meaning of Life

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Noir et Blanc in Color: Existentialism and Miami Vice

Steven M. Sanders

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pp. 95-114

The connections between existentialism and TV noir are shown by the way the concepts of alienation, absurdity, existential freedom and choice—expressed with such fluency in novels, short stories, essays, and plays by thinkers associated with the existentialist movement—appear among the...

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24 and the Existential Man of Revolt

Jennifer L. McMahon

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pp. 115-130

One does not have to watch Fox's hit series 24 for very long to see the noir elements in it. The focus on crime (namely terrorism), the stunning amount of violence; the cynical air of many of 24's lead characters; the presence of several femmes fatales, and the stoic resolve of the show's protagonist...

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Carnivale Knowledge: Give Me That Old-time Noir Religion

Eric Bronson

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pp. 131-142

In the first season of HBO's Carnivale, a vagabond, not quite as dirty as the others, sits around a campfire, largely keeping to himself. As the liquor gets passed around, and stories told, the runaway Methodist minister loosens up enough to speak. What has brought him so low, he is asked. Did he lose his...

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The Sopranos, Film Noir, and Nihilism

Kevin L. Stoehr

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pp. 143-158

The immensely popular and award-winning HBO series The Sopranos is rooted in a nihilistic vision that reflects a general moral decline in contemporary American culture.1 Nihilism is most generally denned as the belief in nothing at all, the conviction that nothing matters, not even oneself...

Part 3: Crime Scene Investigation and the Logic of Detection

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CSI and the Art of Forensic Detection

Deborah Knight, George McKnight

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pp. 161-178

We analyze CSI as an example of TV noir, but before turning to the series, it is worth asking: Just what sorts of narratives count as noir, and why? We find examples of noir in literature, film, and television, but wherever such examples are found, noir is a hybrid of elements. Film scholars have...

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Detection and the Logic of Abduction in The X-Files

Jerold J. Abrams, Elizabeth F. Cooke

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pp. 179-200

Film scholars agree that classic film noir emerges most prominently in the early 1940s with The Maltese Falcon (John Huston, 1941) and The Big Sleep (Howard Hawks, 1946), and lasts until Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958), setting the basic template: a hard-boiled detective in trench coat and fedora...

Part 4: Autonomy, Selfhood, and Interpretation

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Kingdom of Darkness: Autonomy and Conspiracy in The X-Files and Millennium

Michael Valdez Moses

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pp. 203-228

In Michel Foucault's influential account of the rise and consolidation of modern society, the individual soul, if it can be said to exist at all, is the easily manipulated product of an all-pervasive and interlocking set of disciplinary institutions and administrative bodies, a "carceral archipelago" consisting...

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The Prisoner and Self-Imprisonment

Shai Biderman, William j . Devlin

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pp. 229-246

When we discuss the cinematic realm of noir, what exactly are we talking about? Literally, the word "noir" means dark. But what is so dark about these cinematic features to constitute them as films noirs? Typically, such features are dark in their imagery and content. Visually, most noir is characterized...

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Twin Peaks, Noir, and Open Interpretation

Jason Holt

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pp. 247-260

Any fan of Twin Peaks who encounters Goya's lithograph The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (1803) cannot help but see an obvious connection to the landmark TV series; whether series creators David Lynch and Mark Frost had this connection in mind is of little importance. The lithograph depicts...

List of Contributors

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pp. 261-264

Index

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pp. 265-274