Cult Telefantasy Series by Sue Short (book review).

Within seven chapters, Sue Short’s book ‘Cult Telefantasy Series’ only examines nine examples and on a couple occasions, two to a chapter, cult TV series. She uses the 1960s series ‘The Prisoner’ as the standard for all cult series after it. Although there’s a massive list at the back, I couldn’t help but wonder whether she chose some of the series arbitrarily or because she had seen them all. Surely the significance of ‘Babylon 5’ which broke the ‘Star Trek’ mould, not to mention brokered CGI on the telly and ‘Farscape’ for bringing nebulous morals and black comedy combination, not to mention significant non-humanoid aliens to space SF. Both had to be milestones. However, including the likes of ‘Twin Peaks’ and ‘Lost’ does avoid going through the standard choices.


There’s a lot about this book that I tend to agree with or at least not strongly disagree with. However, when it comes to the chapter dealing with ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ there is a problems with when she asks why people like Willow and Spike don’t pay for their crimes? I think here author Sue Short didn’t address the problem deep enough. After all, Buffy herself is judge, jury and executioner in a matter of minutes of every vampire she encounters and she wasn’t elected to office neither. Just how do you imprison or, even at the most extreme, kill Willow, the most powerful witch on Earth, when atonement by action or non-action would keep her in check. Yes, moral issues should be addressed but ‘Buffy’ was never intended for a junior market and indeed, the main viewers were in their 30s.

It’s rather interesting that Short mentions the X-Men in relation to ‘Heroes’ but isn’t familiar enough with them to realise that aspects of the latter’s pursuit and imprisonment owes much to the former’s Sentinels stories and copied some aspects.

Her comments on ‘Doctor Who’ are actually spot on, especially with current show-runner targeting a more juvenile audience which is odd considering that it is actually supposed for all the family. When I was young, some aspects of ‘Who’ might have escaped me but it actually felt good to watch that made me feel a bit more older for watching it.

I don’t think Short will say anything that you will disagree with and might give you insight on these series if you haven’t given them much thought before. In some respects, I wish that she would have said more than I would contest with. The few points I do disagree with tend to be things that I thought she’d missed. I can see some readers who buy this book lending it to their ‘friends’ to show them what they are missing.

GF Willmetts

April 2013

(pub: McFarland. 222 page indexed small enlarged paperback. Price: £31.95 (UK), $35.00 (US). ISBN: 978-0-7864-4315-4)

check out websites: www.mcfarlandpub.com and www.eurospanbookstore.com


Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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