Extrapolation, 2008, Winter, 49, 3
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Unread TV. Elana Levine and Lisa Parks, eds. Undead TV; Essays on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Durham: Duke UP, 2007. 210 pp. $74.95 hdbk/$21.95 pbk. Students of the work of Buffy creator Joss Whedon and his associates have long been awaiting Undead TV. Its earlier title of Red Noise (seemingly an allusion to Don DeLillo's White Noise, with its cultural studies professors who focused on Hitler and Elvis) was bruited about on the Internet for five years or more, with impatient demands for news of its release. Its final title, Undead TV, is not merely a clever reference to the vampires of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997v2003) but a reminder that some television series can have an afterlife, and an invitation to consider the form this afterlife can take by focusing on "the most studied television series" (10) in terms of both culture and commerce (and their interchange). Levine and Parks' intriguing introductory comment that "Buffy narrativizes the resuscitative patterns of commercial television by making interaction between the living and the dead a central programming premise" (6) is not pursued in the rest of the chapters, though the series' marketing/ marketed life and its more general narrative and visual representations are. Indeed, one of the book's stronger elements is its placement of Buffy within marketing forces, and the authors rightly remind readers not to overlook these forces. They are oddly myopic in other respects, however. The introduction asserts (6) that one can see "television itself as a kind of portal for the undead .. . recalling materia! thought to have long disappeared"--and this is certainly true, as Shakespeare could have agreed while changing Hamnet to Hamlet, or Sophocles might have asserted while reworking old myths for his plays. While the introduction to Undead TV stresses the continuity of cultural studies, the book does not focus on earlier written literature, theater, and film--and the important part all of these have in the DNA of a series like Bujfy. Not that there's anything wrong with that--no single book has to cover every subject. But with its emphasis on contextualization and the life of the past extending into the present, Undead TV might have been expected to give at least a nod to other elements of the cultural heritage shared by most of Buffy's creators and many of its viewers. And if earlier cultural elements are disregarded, earlier scholars of Whedon and Buffy fare even worse.
- Category: Language Arts & Disciplines
- Published: Dec 22, 2008
- Publisher: Extrapolation
- Seller: The Gale Group, Inc.
- Print Length: 12 Pages
- Language: English