From watching one particular episode of the famous soap ‘Eastenders’ I was able to attain plenty of information and reference to certain areas of a soap.
There are specific codes and conventions to particular narratives that are easy to identify. Obviously in each soap, the same sort of things occur and the audience can recognise this, thus such an appeal for soaps. In this single episode of ‘Eastenders’, the themes included are easily identifiable as being part of a soap. It includes all the drama in everyday life within one session of 30minutes.
We are able to see potential fights, arguing, loving and a typical ‘goodie’ and ‘baddie’ scenario. Also there is mention of wedding and divorce, evidently showing mixed emotions. Furthermore, a noticeable feature of Eastenders is that there is a comic relief – as there is a build up of suspense and tension, then a scene change to ‘Patrick’ who supplies the audience with moments of laughter, along with a small selection of other characters.
Location is an immense feature to Eastenders. There are a number of places you anticipate to be featured in each episode – the Queen Vic pub being the most notorious. Also within one street (square) there is 6 places of work – all featured in this one episode. The jobs all being inter-gender and featuring different types of characters who play different roles with a wide range of age gaps. Ie. Garage, launderette, cafï¿½, E20 nightclub and a B & B. In this 30 minute slot, which in Eastenders’ time is one full day – from early morning to late night, we are able to see the pub closed, quiet and busy. Also when the pub is featured, the concentration is only on a conversation involving just two people, although you can hear other characters in the atmos, they are not seen. This is where camera angles become important.
‘Over the shoulder’ shot is most commonly featured throughout when showing a clip of two characters talking. Also whilst in the middle of a conversation there is a sharp camera swap to a close -up view of the person speaking, which only last for a few seconds. These are things that the audience take for granted but need plenty of thought and trials.
There is only one point in the episode where one person is shown alone – this being Peggy Mitchell who is talking to herself and allowing the viewers to empathise with her and share her emotions. She is a dominant family-heading female who is stressing her unhappiness to the viewers. This is when we see a wider range of camera angles used as the photographers want us to see her differently and also let us see the setting and background which is a clever tactic so we can recognise where she is and what her method of thinking is. Also the cameras seem a similar distance away from each character, and this means they never raise their voice and throughout the same volume of speech is enforced.
A synopsis of what is actually happening in the episode is a number of storylines revolving around each other – most of them having some sort of link or connection. The storylines are as follows :
* Phil Mitchell after his disturbed ex-wife Lisa and his baby
* A triangle love situation between Little Mo, ‘comical’ Billy and ‘Mr. Nasty’ Trevor.
* Sonia’s relationship with both Gus and Jamie
* Janine’s flirting and misleading – this linking into events occurring in the bed and breakfast.
* Tom’s mental state of mind
* Jim Brannan losing his job and Ricky in desperate need of one
There is also other small ones developing but these are the main pinpointed ones. The storylines are age specific, therefore aimed at a wide range of viewers.
In addition to this as storylines build up and characters become uneased in the episode, there seems to be no atmos/background music to dramatise the situation, which is a convention often employed by soap-makers. No music at all is used throughout the episode, excluding the catchy and easily remembered theme tune at the beginning of the soap. Also the mini-cliffhangers at the conclusion of the soap is followed by the distinctive tune.
This soap, like most others has no graphics used or clear use of modern hi-tech technology. There is just a simple, straightforward map of the East end of London at the beginning with the River Thames flowing through. This being very eye-catching and appealing.
On the whole it is obvious to see that one 30minute episode of a soap can include so much detail, information and thought.