‘Centuries of evil… wacky sidekicks… yadda, yadda’: vampire television, vampire time and the conventions of flashback

Lorna Jowett, Lorna Jowett (Editor), David Simmons (Editor), Kevin Lee Robinson (Editor)

Research output: Contribution to Book/ReportChapter

Abstract

TV, especially serial television drama has, according to Glen Creeber, “unparalleled temporal breadth” (2004: 19). Team this with the cultural icon of the ever-youthful, nearly immortal vampire, and time on vampire television becomes endless. Time, for vampires, works differently: they blur boundaries between age and youth. The age of the vampire also allows for epic scale. This is not time travel in the science fiction sense, but travel through the never-ending undead time of a vampire’s existence, or what one character from Angel cynically summarises as “centuries of evil… wacky sidekicks… yadda, yadda” (Lilah Morgan in “Lullaby” Angel 3.9). This paper examines how vampire television from Dark Shadows to Being Human merges existing conventions for presenting time alongside established vampire tropes. The endless seriality of a soap opera like Dark Shadows continually requires new material and extended flashbacks provide this, adding novelty to the ongoing drama, filling out character backstory, and heightening our sense of Barnabas Collins as an immortal vampire. In more recent drama, flashbacks enable character development on a new scale, as well as providing a dynamic sense of change and moral complexity in shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, which focus on redemption. The flashback in vampire TV is also examined from the angles of history (inserting fictional characters into well-known events), memory (point of view), and aesthetics (period drama, material realism). Vampire TV offers a unique opportunity to analyse how conventions of flashback usually work in serial drama, and how they compare with other representations of time on television.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTime on TV: Narrative Time, Time Travel and Time Travellers in Popular Television Culture
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherI.B.Tauris
Chapter9
Pages121-133
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781838609719
ISBN (Print)9781784530136
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2016

Publication series

NameInvestigating cult TV

Keywords

  • Vampires
  • television studies
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Angel
  • The Vampire Diaries
  • Being Human(UK)

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    Jowett, L., Jowett, L. (Ed.), Simmons, D. (Ed.), & Robinson, K. L. (Ed.) (2016). ‘Centuries of evil… wacky sidekicks… yadda, yadda’: vampire television, vampire time and the conventions of flashback. In Time on TV: Narrative Time, Time Travel and Time Travellers in Popular Television Culture (pp. 121-133). (Investigating cult TV). I.B.Tauris. https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/time-on-tv-9781784530136/