BREAK­ING BAD: NEW MEX­ICO Prob­a­bly the most vis­ually stun­ning piece of tele­vi­sion in his­tory, the widescreen ex­panse of New Mex­ico gave an oth­er­worldly qual­ity to Vince Gil­li­gan’s story of a chem­istry teacher turned meth cook. Shot in 35mm film, the desert scenes are in stark con­trast to the claus­tro­pho­bic in­door shots and give the se­ries an aptly hal­lu­cino­genic qual­ity. BLOOD­LINE: THE FLORIDA KEYS This Net­flix sleeper hit won plau­dits for its tense de­pic­tion of a very dys­func­tional Florida Keys fam­ily. As im­pres­sive as the per­for­mance by Ben Men­del­sohn were the Keys them­selves; the count­less in­lets and thick swamps hold­ing as many se­crets as the Ray­burn fam­ily does. TRUE DE­TEC­TIVE: LOUISIANA The primeval swamp­land of Louisiana merged with the post-in­dus­trial land­scape to cre­ate an al­most fan­tas­tic back­drop to this un­con­ven­tional who­dun­nit. While Matthew McConaughey and Woody Har­rel­son won de­served plau­dits for their per­for­mances, the suc­cess of TrueDe­tec­tive was as much due to its twisted South­ern Gothic back­drop. Equally im­por­tant in this new era of cre­ativ­ity is the rise of the show run­ner – the one man (or woman) who cre­ates and writes the show. Their in­sis­tence on to­tal con­trol has seen them hire Hol­ly­wood cin­e­matog­ra­phers, who have cre­ated some of the vis­ually stun­ning pieces of work ever to see the screen, big or small.

From Break­ingBad to Blood­line,Mad­Men to TrueDe­tec­tive, tele­vi­sion cin­e­matog­ra­phy has never been bet­ter, or more im­por­tant. To il­lus­trate, let’s look at two shows that have book­ended the tele­vi­sion re­nais­sance. TheWestWing, rst shown in 1999, her­alded a new era of smart TV writ­ing (and one of the rst times an A-List movie actor – Martin Sheen – moved from lm to tele­vi­sion), but com­pared to

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