Thursday, January 31, 2008

Read This for Tuesday!

Here is a link to the article I want you to read for Tuesday.

"r o s e m a r y
- the connection between mia farrow, sharon tate, charlie manson and the beatles!"

As I said in class, it is not always 100% accurate, but it's an excellent overview of the occult-based conspiracies and cultural fears that were rampant in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

We will have a short quiz on this next week so be prepared.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Online articles

I have added some more links with articles that will be useful for study and research in this course. Most notably, the online journal of Buffy Studies, Slayage is a great source for academic essays on all things related to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, for example, this essay on the portrayal of teen witchcraft and pop culture magic on the show. The publishers also have a website with an undergraduate online journal called Watcher Junior.

Also, The University of Texas at Austin has an excellent online critical forum called Flow TV with many intriguing and useful articles. You can search by titles, keywords, topics and authors. I found a number of interesting pieces on shows we're studying in the course, including Lost, Invasion, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Doctor Whoand plenty of commentary on shows imported from the UK and Australia plus themed issues, including a recent one devoted to Battlestar Galactca.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Time travel: kind of like a big ball of wibbly wobbly... time-y wimey... stuff.

One of the most prevalent ideas in all of science based fiction is that of time travel. It just so happens that I have more than a slight fascination with the topic.

Time travel has been treated in many different ways by different shows throughout the years. In the BBC show Doctor Who, it is used simply as a plot device to get the main characters to a time and place where an adventure can take place and a story can build. Thus, in most episodes of Doctor Who, the time machine is only used at the very beginning and end. By contrast, the American show Heroes often uses time travel as a way to directly affect the plot. Often, the writers lean on Hiro Nakamura (the time traveler in the show) as a way to get information to places where it needs to be.

In Journeyman and Life on Mars, the protagonists find themselves having involuntarily traveled through time to a specific place, and must figure out their situation and their destiny. In Quantum Leap, the protagonist jumps around to various points in time, as constricted by his own lifespan. In Sliders, the characters travel to different dimensions that comprise the many different realities of Earth. And, of course, we must not forget the hit Cartoon Network animated program Code Lyoko. In that one, the plucky kids use time travel at the end of every episode as a way to invalidate any progress that was made in the course of the narrative.

As a culture, we seem to keep coming back to this concept and reinventing it, rethinking it, deciding how it should work. Even though it rarely works out, (peruse this wikipedia list of time travel programs and take a look at all the bombs) it still seems to fascinate and tantalize us when it's done right. Is this simply because it provides a wide range of possible stories? Do people just like history? Or perhaps it is because it feeds a deeper part of the human condition: the desire to go back and do something over again, to relive or rediscover something we once had but now is gone?


Hey everyone; you ALL need to register as authors on this blog. So far only ten of you have done so, which is not even half the class, and all of you should have received email invites by now. So please register as soon as possible (i.e. by Thursday of this week).

Thursday, January 24, 2008


I will continue to add links in the first few weeks of the semester. Feel free to mention websites of interest in your posts and maybe they can also get added to the permanent link list.

Here's a good one to check out for an episode guide and info on The Twilight Zone

ETA: This is another good one. Scroll down for plenty of links to reviews and blog articles of various cult TV shows and made-for-TV movies.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Mindf*ck as Narrative Device

I found this interesting article on the narrative device of the mindf*ck, which is essentially a plot conceit in which a main character does not learn a significant truth about him/herself until the end of the story. It is a conceit common in horror, science fiction and fantasy narratives, as often the truth involves something related to the nature of existence itself, i.e. the character finds out they are actually dead (or, as in "The After Hours", a story on The Twilight Zone, a character finds out she is really a mannequin, not a human.

The essay is mostly about cinema but discussed a number of television examples, too. Nice to see Rod Serling still gets credit for his influence upon dark storytelling...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

These Crazy Kids Today! With their "Buffy" and their Eclectic Spirituality!

Jason at the Wild Hunt Blog has written about an intriguing study done in Australia that seems to be suggesting that young people who do not follow predominant religious traditions may be more susceptible to mental illness...

As usual with "scientific" studies that try to determine a link between New Age spirituality and mental problems, the study shows correlation, but not one commenter suggests, it may even be true that someone who was raised within a "traditional" religious household may in fact be seeking out "alternatives" because their family's religious path was not sufficient to address their mental difficulties...and, as usual, the media is blamed!

Still, interesting. But it is nothing new.

My question is: does all this doom and gloom reporting on the dangers of the occult actually end up achieving the opposite goal, and actually steer young people towards, and not away from, the occult? Now, that would be an interesting study.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Hello and welcome. This blog has been created for the course "Supernatural TV" at Emerson College, spring semester 2008. Here you will find posts related to all aspects of that delicious realm where television and the supernatural intersect: media, popular culture, urban legends, tabloids, the paranormal, conspiracy theories, and all your favorite shows.

Links to articles, essays, reviews, websites, other blogs, and more will also appear here, along with original articles. Student blogs will also be featured and linked here, and students will be encouraged (okay, required) to post here and engage in commentary and discussion.

Image from Dead Channels: From Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, a 1973 made-for-TV film starring Kim Darby and Jim Hutton. Very, very scary.