Cult TV, Quality and the Role of the Episode/Programme Guide

Matt Hills

in The Contemporary Television Series

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print May 2005 | ISBN: 9780748619009
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671168 | DOI:
Cult TV, Quality and the Role of the Episode/Programme Guide

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Despite its relative academic invisibility, the episode guide has become an increasingly prominent companion to cult television serials. Cult television's series/serial hybridity often combines soap-operatic elements with limited runs or ‘seasons’ of episodes concluding with a cliffhanger. It is this series/serial combination which has especially facilitated the rise of the cult TV episode guide. This chapter explores the fact that work on cult television has somewhat neglected the role of official and fan-produced episode/programme guides. It argues that the phenomenon of the episode guide can tell us much about cult television's seriality, thus challenging the assumptions of Sara Gwenllian Jones and Henry Jenkins that episode guides contribute to an erosion of ‘the processual order of cause and effect, enigma and resolution’ or that they ‘distort...narrative’. Both Jones and Jenkins seem to view the episode guide as somehow inimical to the seriality of cult television shows. The episode guide constructs a corpus of canonical televised episodes, allowing for comparative aesthetic evaluations and the attribution of discourses of ‘quality’ to cult television series.

Keywords: episode guide; cult television; television serials; seriality; Sara Gwenllian Jones; Henry Jenkins; television series; quality

Chapter.  7145 words. 

Subjects: Television

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