The Inside of Crime Fiction
Crime Fiction, a source of constant fascination. Being amidst the danger, pulse-pounding exploits, or the nerve-racking chase to a rocket-driven conclusion, we revel in the stories of crime fiction, the stories of murder from greed, lust, avarice, revenge, cowardice and nobility. We love to live through a character’s experiences, that makes it tolerable, even enjoyable. To be amongst the ‘heroes’ that solve the case and look out for our protection. But why are we ‘arrested’ and ‘captured’ by the genre of crime fiction novels and shows in this modern-age. It’s because of one significant reason that stands out from many: the chance you’ll encounter a ghost, be transported to another planet, or have some paranormal experience is quite remote and so is the Sci-fi and dystopian genre, struck in pure fantasy, which doesn’t seem to be within the realm of possibility. Crime novels tap into the prospect of the possible which makes them ever more compelling and frightening. But more than fear it is the possibility of evil driving the popularity of this genre.
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“The Inside of Crime Fiction”, will take into view two of televisions enthralling crime dramas, “Midsomer Murders” and “Murdoch Mysteries” and dive into the similarities and differences of the features. Each series contains elements that a crime fiction cannot be without. These are evident in both crime dramas: the seemingly unsolvable, impossible to solve case, an interested sleuth, unsavoury and empathetic characters, danger and tension: the heart racing element of suspense until the very last second, a motive of the criminal’s actions pieced together at the end of the story where the puzzle is finished, a criminal: a murderer, the more charming, smart or psychopathic, the more compelling the search is. Suspects, a range of people who could have committed the crime, clues that point toward the criminal’s identity and wrong-doings and red herrings driving the viewer away from the right conclusion, on a path to a dead end rather than a path to more pathways and an alibi, to demonstrate that the accused was not present at a crime. “Midsomer Murders” and “Murdoch Mysteries” features these elements that drives a successful crime fiction series that has been producing for 10+ consecutive seasons.
Based on the original novels by Maureen Jennings, we transported back-in-time, at the turn of the 20th Century: the late 1890s to early 1900’s, distinguishes eccentric Canadian Artful Detective, William Murdoch, closely investigating alongside his wife, Dr. Julia Ogden and “side-kick”, Constable Crabtree. Investigating the toughest cases with Steampunk operations and technologies at his side, employing radical new scientific and forensic techniques like fingerprinting, ultra violet light, blood testing, surveillance and trace evidence to solve the city of Toronto’s most covered, precise and gruesome murders.
(Writer of Original Novel Series: Maureen Jennings Talking) “We’ve specially added thought to the nature of how we wanted to create a series using realism but also capturing the 20th century technologies, inventors, scientists and history throughout the episodes, featured in the 10 consecutive seasons. Episodes feature anachronistic technology whereby Murdoch uses the existing technology of his time to improvise a “crude” prototype of a technology that would be more readily recognizable to the show’s 21st-century audience. We’ve also incorporated a major of the world’s most historical figures and true, universal shaping scientists and inventors including Sharpshooter, Annie Oakley, English writer, H G Wells, Serbian-American inventor and electrical engineer, Nikola Tesla, Queen Victoria. Also featured is Oliver Mowat, Orville and Wilbur Wright, Henry Ford, Sir Winston Churchill, Alexander Graham Bell, Emma Goldman, Harry Houdini and Thomas Edison.
We’ve created a world where characters refer to inventions of the 19th century and generalise from them, to future inventions. Such as: microwave ovens, night-vision goggles, computers, “Cluedo”, the family favourite board game and “Hangman””.
In comparison with “Murdoch Mysteries”, “Midsomer Murders” is based in modern day English fictional county of Midsomer, initially written as a book series by Caroline Graham’s, as originally adapted by Anthony Horowitz. The British detective drama revolves around DCI Barnaby’s efforts to solve numerous murders that take place involving town folk throughout each episode. Bizarre and gruesome murders are not unnatural featuring’s of the show. Murder implements include a cricket bat, a fire iron, a saucepan, a faulty microphone, the cord of a camera light meter, a candlestick, a doped horse, a pitchfork, a Celtic spear, liquid nicotine, a syringe, toxic fungus, a necktie, a slide projector, a switchblade razor, a drinks cabinet, a plough, a hammer, hemlock, vintage claret, bottles of relish, a poisonous frog, a longbow arrow, a French guillotine, a prop theatrical knife, King Neptune’s trident, a hatpin, an Iron Maiden, rabbit grooming scissors and alien abduction.
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Visual and audio elements are utilised as a major enabler for the emotions that a viewer/reader feels. In “Murdoch Mysteries” and “Midsomer Murders” the audio used is either diegetic: visible on screen sound or non-diegetic sound: sound that is neither visible nor has it been implied to be present this includes sound effects for dramatic effects and/or mood music. Although the audio can be scarce, when used, it provides a large impact as it is used a climax or when a major event has occurred, the murder is in practise, the case is finally solved and a suspect is being interrogated. Visual is used to co-operate with the mysterious nature of the story and so, various narrative codes are in the visual of crime fiction. Flashbacks are used to give the audience information, showing aspects of a characters past which could contribute to their understanding of the crime and/or narrative. Point-of-view shots allow the audience to see the action from different perspectives even specifically the murderer’s or victim’s eyes to build tension and suspense. Many other film techniques are used in crime fiction television drama’s including the privileged spectator positons, places where the audience is shown aspects of the narrative that other characters cannot or will not be able to see and enigma codes, where the camera many only show some of the narrative, leaving the audience with unanswered questions. These visual and audio aspects are the appeal and thrill of crime drama that captures the audience to be “addicted” to the genre.
But, why are television crime drama’s important to the television industry and gain such an audience, one may ask? Crime Fiction is a well-established drama, ever rapidly growing as technology is established. They have high production values, a strong, rich narrative with much thought, literacy devices and elements used that not anyone can create and a range of characters and suspects. They reflect the real-life issues which are of relevance towards an audience. Finally, the thrill and popularity of Crime Fiction Television Dramas is for clearly one of multiple reasons, the audience is involved alongside the detectives to solve the “impossible crime.”
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