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The Contemporary Television Series$
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Michael Hammond and Lucy Mazdon

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780748619009

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748619009.001.0001

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

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

(p.190) Chapter 10 Cult TV, Quality and the Role of the Episode/Programme Guide
The Contemporary Television Series

Matt Hills

Edinburgh University Press

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

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