The Docudrama

The docudrama, another type of visual narrative dealing with the past, has gained a significant place in television broadcasting, with such well-known titles as Brian's Song (1971), Roots (1977), and Everybody's Baby: The Rescue of Jessica McClure (1989). The genre in its original form combined documentary and drama, categories usually conceived as separate. According to Janet Staiger, the docudrama derives from the early US television program You Are There (1953-1957), which featured staged interviews with actors representing the actual participants in historical events, such as the conquest of Mexico. The ''you are there'' form, however, has fallen into disuse, and most docudramas employ mainstream forms of dramatic representation and apply them to historical events. They combine fictional narrative techniques with an explicit claim to record or report ''reality,'' a characteristic of television broadcasting in general. In blending narrative and documentary style, the doc-udrama sets forth a moral view of reality, an ethical response to the ''real world,'' which is initially presented as disordered and irrational.

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