Science Fiction Television: A History

By M. Keith Booker | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 1

Early Predecessors to The Twilight Zone: The Birth of Science Fiction Television

This book is a history of science fiction television (SFTV) series that appeared in America from the 1950s to the early years of the twenty-first century. It describes the principal characteristics of the most important series, at the same time placing each program within the historical contexts of SFTV as a whole and of the American culture and society within which it was produced and consumed. Science fiction series have been among the most innovative and successful programs ever to appear on commercial television. Classic American series such as The Twilight Zone and Star Trek were among the pioneering programs that defined the phenomenon of cult television, continued by more recent, highly respected series such as Star Trek: The Next Generation and Babylon 5. Such series have had some of the most dedicated core audiences in the history of television, as evidenced by their ongoing popularity in syndication and, more recently, on DVD. In the 1990s, The X-Files boldly went where no SFTV program had gone before in terms of production values and mainstream audience appeal, while cable programs such as Farscape and Stargate SG-1 carried the banner of science fiction television into the new millennium. It is also worth noting that science fiction programs such as Space: 1999 have been, at least for short periods, among the most successful British imports in the American market, while near-legendary British programs such as The Avengers and The Prisoner have included strong elements of science fiction, along with elements of other genres, such as the spy drama and detective story—a

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