Analyse and compare the opening sequences of 'The Bill' and 'Murder City'.

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Analyse and compare the opening sequences of ‘The Bill’ and ‘Murder City’

              All police shows aim at thrilling and exciting their audiences by diverse portrayals of the police and crime. Each one presents the police and crime in their own unique way because each has to be different from the rest in order to attract an audience.
    For this part of my project, I have chosen two contrasting cop shows – ‘The Bill’ and ‘Murder City’ – to help me in exploring and analysing the methods used by the media in entertaining their target audiences via these shows.
         I shall use the episode of ‘The Bill’ that went on air on 11.03.2004 and the first episode of ‘Murder City’. In analysing and comparing the above two, I shall take a look at their credits, music, graphics, camera work and the introduction of their characters.

  1. MUSIC- At the beginning of ‘The Bill’, we are shown a synopsis of the story from the previous episode so the audience can catch up and understand the order of events. During this recapping, the music of ‘The Bill's' opening sequence is played softly in the background.

                  As the credits are shown, the music begins with a heavy pattern to its tune that is repeated at a high pitch. Trumpets, guitars and drums are the instruments used; a siren can be heard in the background. The tune is rhythmic and catchy. The viewers can be drawn by the catchy music without human intervention.

                  However, ‘Murder City’ has a different structure and only shows one crime investigation per episode. Before the credits are shown, the audience is introduced to the story and sees the crime being committed. As the first episode opened, only diegetic sounds could be heard; they seemed to belong to a car speeding along on a road or an aeroplane flying overhead. These diegetic sounds alert the senses, and the viewer will be absorbed into the scene by the sounds that are part of it.

             From these diegetic sounds, we switch to the non-diegetic, as loud pounding music begins suddenly; this is assumed to be Gothic as the viewers are shown a room in a house where a girl dressed completely in black is standing and has Gothic elements around her. Hoarse, loud singing is added to the music as we view the girl. Even as the camera view changes, the music goes on underneath at a lower pitch. The loud, pumping music associates with the Gothic girl we see. As we view her room, the music is louder and more powerful; this successfully builds dramatic tension.

         As night approaches in the episode, it is again the only the diegetic sounds that can be heard. The camera is in extreme darkness outside the house, a deep breathing and monotonous hum is all that can be heard. This effectively increases dramatic tension; the audience know there is somebody unknown in the dark outside and the girl is home alone.

In this way, the musical sequences of the two shows are relatively different. ‘The Bill’ has a musical piece that catches attention. The music is like a catalyst that makes the audience feel that the characters of ‘The Bill’ are like them and have similar lives and problems. They can then easily get adjusted into the atmosphere of ‘The Bill’.
     ‘Murder City’, however, begins with calm and normal sounds that suddenly turn loud and pumping. This adjusts the setting in a different way and prepares the viewer for the crime that they are possibly about to witness. The diegetic sounds are extremely effective as they set the scene and build up a lot of apprehension.
         The different music is suited to the response expected from the respective audiences.

  1. GRAPHICS – In the opening sequence of ‘The Bill’, the first thing we see is a big ball of glowing light that slowly fades out. The colours change from this bright focus to yellows, reds then purples.

                Police figures are seen running and the word ‘police’, (written in blue), goes across the screen slowly. The colour is important here because blue is associated with the police, their blue uniforms, car sirens etc. We are mostly shown lights driving by, perhaps to convey a police chase. A police siren is also shown. Police officers stride across the screen. The graphics mostly give an implication of the police as hard-working, busy and determined people (the striding officers, the loud sirens, the lights etc.). Then we see a sign saying  “WARNING POLICE” grid across. The sign is giving the audience a warning; it is telling them that they will witness crimes and see work involving danger.
                As this sequence ends, the words “‘The Bill’” are shown at the centre of the frame. The font is blue and Sans Serif; it has a blue-chequered design on top of it. Again, blue is an associate with the police as is the design, which is also present on police uniforms, hats and cars. The design is perhaps being used as an ‘identity’ of the police. This design and the Sans Serif font suggest simplicity - ‘‘The Bill’’ is a show of ordinary people, the police officers are like any other human being.

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              In the opening sequence of ‘Murder City’, we are firstly shown a stylised city in a cartoon-like impression. This stylised, pixellated city gives us the impression that it is modern and different from the rest. The main characters are shown first. They are striding along in a very purposeful way; the names of these actors appear beside them. The striding makes them seem important and at the same time, smart. As they move along, animation takes place behind them. Unlike ‘The Bill’, these police officers are not in uniform. Again, this gives the ...

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