Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Acknowledgments

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p. vii

A great many people contributed to the creation of this book and deserve special mention. Foremost among them are the various colleagues who took it on faith that this project would see the light of day and readily agreed to contribute their time and creative efforts. Gary Edgerton, the series editor, encouraged the project and provided very valuable commentary ...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-34

Todd Gitlin has suggested that too often today we “take a media-soaked environment for granted . . . and can no longer see how remarkable it is” (17). Certainly, that observation has much validity for any discussion of television, a media form that twenty years ago Mark Crispin Miller had already described as constituting “the very air we breathe” ...

Part I. Background Lifting Off from the Cultural Pad

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Lost in Space: Television as Science Fiction Icon

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pp. 37-54

Before science fiction television (SFTV) could come into being, the medium itself had to be created (both physically and imaginatively), find an audience, and establish its own identity. This historical emergence corresponds most obviously to a series of key developments that made television both a technical possibility and a potential component of the ...

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Shadows on the Cathode Ray Tube: Adapting Print Science Fiction for Television

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pp. 55-68

The early years of television were exciting times for science fiction authors, as broadcast versions of previously published short stories and novels promised to bring new audiences to their chosen genre. But the process of adapting the literature to television did not always go quite as authors expected. Consider, for instance, the case of Tom Corbett, ...

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From Big Screen to Small Box: Adapting Science Fiction Film for Television

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pp. 69-90

One of the key concerns of the nascent television networks in the United States in the late 1940s and 1950s was determining what kind of programming would attract audiences. One place they looked was movies. With a history dating back to Georges Méliès’s Voyage to the Moon (1902); successful serials such as Flash Gordon (1936) and Buck Rogers ...

Part II. The Shape of the Ship Narrative Vehicles and Science Fiction

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Tomorrowland TV: The Space Opera and Early Science Fiction Television

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pp. 93-110

Despite their veneer of innocent entertainment, early science fiction television (SFTV) series such as Flash Gordon, Captain Video and His Video Rangers, Tom Corbett, Space Cadet, Space Patrol, and Rocky Jones, Space Ranger tapped into America’s fear of and wonder at the power of the atomic bomb, as well as the rapid technological developments ...

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Anthology Drama: Mapping The Twilight Zone’s Cultural and Mythological Terrain

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pp. 111-126

Widely considered the first important science fiction television series for adults, the original The Twilight Zone (1959–1964) introduced mass audiences to the idea that the genre—which had previously been largely marginalized, especially on television—could present serious subject matter in a well-made dramatic format.1 What most distinguishes the ...

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Animation, Anime, and the Cultural Logic of Asianization

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pp. 127-140

The study of contemporary Japanese science fiction television (SFTV) is a lot like the classic science fiction story wherein intrepid scientists discover space aliens have landed on Earth. The trouble is that no one believes them. Why? The proof aliens are here is precisely that everything is so terrifyingly normal. Similarly, many of the core elements of ...

Part III. What Fuels These Flights Some Key Concerns of Science Fiction Television

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“Dreams Teach”: (Im)Possible Worlds in Science Fiction Television

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pp. 143-158

In “Absolute Power,” a fourth-season episode of the long-running science fiction series Stargate SG-1, the character Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks) is placed into a dream state by an alien who wishes to show him the corrupting consequences of technological power. “Dreams teach,” the alien tells his team, who are unaware that in the hours they watch ...

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Fraking Machines: Desire, Gender, and the (Post)Human Condition in Battlestar Galactica

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pp. 159-176

The Sci-Fi Channel’s updated, reenvisioned series Battlestar Galactica (2004–present) has generated considerable attention from both the popular press and media scholars, and for many reasons. First, it takes science fiction seriously and, as the popular press has noted, is heavily informed by the events of 9/11. In addition, unlike other successful ...

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Space Vehicles and Traveling Companions: Rockets and Living Ships

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pp. 177-192

Humans explore. It’s what we’re good at. When modern humans appeared on the planet, their skill at finding new places and surviving the journey made population of the globe possible. Once we had mapped and inhabited the globe, we began to feel that we needed new space— and what could be more tempting to this human urge to travel, to discover ...

Part IV. The Best Sights “Out There” Key Series

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The Politics of Star Trek

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pp. 195-208

The original Star Trek television series, which ran on NBC from 1966 to 1969, is arguably the best-known single work in the history of science fiction media. It was certainly one of the most important works of American popular culture in the 1960s, even if its true importance did not emerge until later, when its showings in syndication greatly increased ...

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Science Fiction Television in the United Kingdom:

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pp. 209-230

This essay considers a range of science fiction programs produced over the last half century in light of two key concerns: the nature of British broadcasting’s institutional and industrial structures and practices and the British experience of postwar modernization, as empire increasingly gave way to a contested position within the consolidating world market ...

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Mainstreaming Marginality: Genre, Hybridity, and Postmodernism in The X-Files

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pp. 231-246

When it premiered in September 1993, Fox’s The X-Files (1993–2002) was an anomaly in a primetime lineup then consisting mainly of sitcoms and cop shows. The series, which chronicles the adventures of FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) as they investigate various paranormal phenomena and wade through ...

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Babylon 5: Our First, Best Hope for Mature Science Fiction Television

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pp. 247-266

Although not as long-lived as shows in the Star Trek franchise, J. Michael Straczynski’s Babylon 5 (1994–1998) has had a significant if sometimes unrecognized impact on American science fiction television (SFTV). Innovatively conceived as a novel for television—with a distinct beginning, middle, and end to its five-year story arc—Babylon 5 demonstrates ...

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Stargate SG-1 and the Quest for the Perfect Science Fiction Premise

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pp. 267-282

The annals of science fiction television (SFTV) are littered with the hulks of series that, for one reason or another, never made it past a few short seasons of broadcast time. Some, if they appeal to the right kind of audience, live on as cult fiction, their plots never developing any further except in the active imaginations of fans whose textual poachings ...

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The Island’s Greatest Mystery: Is Lost Science Fiction?

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pp. 283-298

At the beginning of the third season of ABC’s hit television series Lost, a group of individuals gather in a living room (at the outset the viewer has no idea where) for a meeting of what turns out to be a book club. The host of the gathering, Juliet, whose preparations for the party have included steeling herself before a mirror to the tune of Petula Clark’s ...

Part V. The Landing Zone Where Does Science Fiction Television Go from Here?

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TV Time Lords: Fan Cultures, Narrative Complexity, and the Future of Science Fiction Television

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pp. 301-314

In a DirecTV commercial that aired in winter 2006–2007, William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, reprising their roles as Captain James T. Kirk and Mr. Spock, promote the service’s picture clarity. A similar commercial, featuring Christopher Lloyd’s Dr. Emmett Brown from the Back to the Future trilogy, seems to equate DirecTV with a time machine ...

Further Reading

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pp. 315-320

Selected Videography

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pp. 321-336

Contributors

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pp. 337-340

Index

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pp. 341-356