Whatever you choose to call it — Peak TV, the Second Golden Age of Television — small-screen fare continues to dominate the viewing landscape these days. While the monikers may refer to post-2000 programming, there was a glimmer of what could be in the 1990s, thanks to quick-witted comedies such as Seinfeld, Friends, 3rd Rock from the Sun, and That ’70s Show, and boundary-pushing dramas like NYPD Blue and Law & Order. While all of the aforementioned shows won Emmys and ran a decade or more, Law & Order became the one franchise that continues today. Conceived by producer/writer Dick Wolf, Law & Order: SVU (1999-present) last year surpassed Gunsmoke (1955-’75) as the longest-running primetime live-action series on television.
In 2004, Wolf and fellow television pioneer Marcy Carsey became the founding sponsors of the University of California, Santa Barbara’s Center for Film, Television, and New Media, the goal of which is “to foster informed dialogue, critical skills, historical understanding, and new forms of literacy for a global and interconnected world,” according to its mission statement. And that’s exactly what the Carsey-Wolf Center has done for the past 16 years. In its nearly 300-seat Pollock Theater on the UCSB campus, students and the public can attend free screenings and Q&As with film and television writers, actors, directors, and producers, and learn about research and educational projects related to understanding today’s media.
This winter, the Carsey-Wolf Center is saluting its namesakes by offering a series called TV at the Pollock, which “explores the evolution of television as a compelling storytelling medium, a vehicle for complex political expression, and a rapidly changing media technology. Ranging from the traditional sitcom to recent dystopian drama, the series pulls great television out of the living room, onto the big screen, and into a communal conversation,” according to the Carsey-Wolf team.
The six-event series will run Tuesdays and Thursdays through the end of February, beginning with Deadwood on January 28. After the screening, actress Robin Weigert, who played Calamity Jane on the show, will be on hand to answer questions from moderator Emily Zinn and the audience.
All shows are at 7 p.m.; here is the series’ schedule:
Tuesday, January 28, with Robin Weigert (actress), moderated by Emily Zinn
You and The Magicians
Thursday, January 30, with Sera Gamble (writer/executive producer), moderated by Wesley Jacks
The Handmaid’s Tale
Tuesday, February 4, with Kira Snyder (writer/executive producer), moderated by Emily Zinn
Dick Wolf: Writing Television Past, Present, and Future
Thursday, February 6, with Dick Wolf (executive producer), moderated by Patrice Petro
Gender, Work, and the Sitcom Family
Thursday, February 13, with Elana Levine (Department of English, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), moderated by Aleah Kiley
The West Wing and Veep
Thursday, February 20, with David Mandel (executive producer/writer/director) and Eli Attie (writer/producer), moderated by Patrice Petro
4•1•1 | UCSB’s Carsey-Wolf Center presents its TV at the Pollock series, starting with Deadwood, Tuesday, January 28, 7 p.m., at the Pollock Theater. See carseywolf.ucsb.edu/pollock/upcoming.