Tarnished Heroes, Charming Villains and Modern Monsters

Science Fiction in Shades of Gray on 21st Century Television


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About the Book

The heroes, villains, and monsters portrayed in such popular science fiction television series as Heroes, Lost, Battlestar Galactica, Caprica, Doctor Who, and Torchwood, as well as Joss Whedon’s many series, illustrate a shift from traditional, clearly defined characterizations toward much murkier definitions. Traditional heroes give way to “gray” heroes who must become more like the villains or monsters they face if they are going to successfully save society. This book examines the ambiguous heroes and villains, focusing on these characters’ different perspectives on morality and their roles within society. Appendices include production details for each series, descriptions and summaries of pivotal episodes, and a list of selected texts for classroom use. Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

About the Author(s)

Lynnette Porter is a professor in the Humanities and Communication Department at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, and has written extensively on television and film.

Bibliographic Details

Lynnette Porter

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 316
Bibliographic Info: appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2010
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4858-6
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5795-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      v

Introduction     1

Part One

1. The Evolution of the Traditional Hero      12

2. Villains and Monsters      32

3. Shades of Gray: 21st Century SF Heroes and Villains      50

4. The Rise of Sidekicks      84

5. Analyzing Gray SF TV Series      108

Part Two

Introduction to Part Two      131

6. The World of Joss Whedon      133

7. Heroes      151

8. Lost      165

9. Battlestar Galactica and Caprica      188

10. Doctor Who      215

11. Torchwood      239

Appendices—Introduction      267

Appendix 1: Series Background Information      268

Appendix 2: Important Series Episodes      270

Chapter Notes      285

Bibliography      293

Authors of Episodes Discussed      297

Index      299

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “An insightful study”—Library Journal
  • “In-depth study…approach…promises wide appeal…extensive appendix material…extensive chapter notes”—Comfychairzine
  •  “Section two…is where the real meat of the book resides…carefully researched…this section is a must-read”—Kitsune Books