Extrapolation

Fantasy Worlds on the Small Screen

Worldbuilding in Original American Fantasy Television

Extrapolation (2021), 62, (1), 37–62.

Abstract

This article draws on worldbuilding theory, US television industrial practices, and textual analysis of a variety of fantasy series to explore the medium-specific forces that shape how fantasy worlds are built on television. With particular focus on Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003), Once Upon a Time (2011-2018), and Dead Like Me (2003-2004), this article proposes the concepts of stationary movement and adaptive creation to analyze how televisual worldbuilding is shaped by industrial practices such as standing sets and actors’ contracts. Scrutinizing the medium-specific manifestation of fantasy worlds on television, this article aims to address the gap in the literature surrounding this televisual genre.

Access Token
£25.00
READ THIS ARTICLE
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

“Amends.” Buffy the Vampire Slayer, directed by Joss Whedon, season 3, episode 10, The WB, 15 Dec. 1998. Google Scholar

Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Directed by Fran Rubel Kuzui, Twentieth Century Fox Film, 1992. Google Scholar

Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Created by Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy and Twentieth Century Fox, 1997-2003. Google Scholar

“Chosen.” Buffy the Vampire Slayer, directed by Joss Whedon, season 7, episode 22, UPN, 20 May 2003. Google Scholar

“Doomed.” Buffy the Vampire Slayer, directed by James A. Contner, season 4, episode 11, The WB, 18 Jan. 2000. Google Scholar

“Faith, Hope & Trick.” Buffy the Vampire Slayer, directed by James A. Contner, season 3, episode 3, The WB, 13 Oct. 1998. Google Scholar

“Gingerbread.” Buffy the Vampire Slayer, directed by James Whitmore Jr., season 3, episode 11, The WB, 12 Jan. 1999. Google Scholar

“Him.” Buffy the Vampire Slayer, directed by Michael Gershman, season 7, episode 6, UPN, 5 Nov. 2002. Google Scholar

“Hush.” Buffy the Vampire Slayer, directed by Joss Whedon, season 4, episode 10, The WB, 14 Dec. 1999. Google Scholar

“Storyteller.” Buffy the Vampire Slayer, directed by Marita Grabiak, season 7, episode 16, UPN, 25 Feb. 2003. Google Scholar

“Superstar.” Buffy the Vampire Slayer, directed by David Grossman, season 4, episode 17, The WB, 4 Apr. 2000. Google Scholar

“Welcome to the Hellmouth.” Buffy the Vampire Slayer, directed by Charles Martin Smith, season 1, episode 1, The WB, 10 Mar. 1997. Google Scholar

“The Wish.” Buffy the Vampire Slayer, directed by David Greenwalt, season 3, episode 9, The WB, 8 Dec. 1998. Google Scholar

“The Zeppo.” Buffy the Vampire Slayer, directed by James Whitmore Jr., season 3, episode 13, The WB, 26 Jan. 1999. Google Scholar

Dead Like Me

Dead Like Me. Created by Bryan Fuller, DLM Productions and MGM Television, 2003-2004. Google Scholar

“Haunted.” Dead Like Me, directed by James Whitmore Jr., season 2, episode 15, Showtime, 31 Oct. 2004. Google Scholar

“Nighthawks.” Dead Like Me, directed by James Whitmore Jr., season 1, episode 12, Showtime, 12 Sept. 2003. Google Scholar

Haven

Haven. Created by Jim Dunn and Sam Ernst, Piller/Segan/Shepherd and Entertainment One, 2010-2015. Google Scholar

“Lockdown.” Haven, directed by Jason Priestly, season 2, episode 9, Syfy, 9 Sept. 2011. Google Scholar

“Shot in the Dark.” Haven, directed by Mairzee Almas, season 4, episode 11, Syfy, 22 Nov. 2013. Google Scholar

Once Upon a Time

Once Upon a Time. Created by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, Kitsis/Horowitz and ABC Studios, 2011-2018. Google Scholar

“Pilot.” Once Upon a Time, directed by Mark Mylod, season 1, episode 1, ABC, 23 Oct. 2011. Google Scholar

Other Primary and Secondary Works

Abrams, Natalie. “Once Upon a Time’s 100th episode: On the set of Hades’ Underworld.” Entertainment Weekly, 4 Mar. 2016, ew.com/article/2016/03/04/once-upon-time-100-episode-spoilers-underworld-hades. Accessed 22 Nov. 2020. Google Scholar

Barry_McKackiner. “Anyone else noticing the similar hotel rooms over the seasons?” Reddit, r/Supernatural forum, 18 Aug. 2015, www.reddit.com/r/Supernatural/comments/3hi00m/anyone_else_noticing_the_similar_hotel_rooms_over/. Accessed 22 Nov. 2020. Google Scholar

Clute, John. “Wainscots.” The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, edited by Clute and John Grant, Orbit, 1997, pp. 991-992. Google Scholar

Douglas, Pamela. Writing the TV Drama Series: How to Succeed as a Professional Writer in TV. Michael Wiese, 2011. Google Scholar

Ekman, Stefan. Here Be Dragons: Exploring Fantasy Maps and Settings. Wesleyan UP, 2013. Google Scholar

Galavant. Created by Dan Fogelman, Rhode Island Ave. Productions and ABC Studios, 2015-2016. Google Scholar

Golden, Christopher, et al. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Monster Book. Pocket, 2000. Google Scholar

Grimm. Created by Stephen Carpenter, David Greenwalt, and Jim Kouf, GK Productions and Universal Television, 2011-2017. Google Scholar

Gwenllian-Jones, Sara. “Virtual Reality and Cult Television.” Cult Television, edited by Gwenllian-Jones and Roberta E. Pearson, U of Minnesota P, 2004, pp. 83-97. Google Scholar

Hills, Matt. Fan Cultures. Routledge, 2002. Google Scholar

Jenner, Mareike. “Is this TVIV? On Netflix, TVIII and Binge-watching.” New Media & Society, vol. 18, no. 2, 2016, pp. 257-273. Google Scholar

Johnson, Catherine. Telefantasy. British Film Institute, 2005. Google Scholar

King, Stephen. The Colorado Kid. Hard Case Crime, 2005. Google Scholar

Knight, Nicholas. Supernatural: The Official Companion Season 3. Titan, 2009. Google Scholar

Lavery, David. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Fifty Key Television Programmes, edited by Glen Creeber, Arnold, 2004, pp. 31-35. Google Scholar

Lotz, Amanda D. Portals: A Treatise on Internet-Distributed Television. Maize Books, 2017. Google Scholar

Lury, Karen. Interpreting Television. Hodder Arnold, 2005. Google Scholar

Mendlesohn, Farah. Rhetorics of Fantasy, Wesleyan UP, 2008. Google Scholar

Mittell, Jason. Complex TV: The Poetics of Contemporary Television Storytelling. New York UP, 2015. Google Scholar

Nguyen, Hanh. “Grimm Postmortem: David Giuntoli on the Finale’s ‘Crazy Aggro’ Zombies.” TV Guide, 21 May 2013, www.tvguide.com/news/grimm-postmortem-season2-finale-1065924. Accessed 22 Nov. 2020. Google Scholar

O’Dette, Katarina. “Yesterday’s Tyrant: Evolving Evil in Fantasy Television’s Reformed Villains.” A Shadow Within: Evil in Fantasy & Science Fiction, edited by Francesca T. Barbini, Luna Press, 2009, pp. 210-230. Google Scholar

O’Sullivan, Sean. “Broken on Purpose: Poetry, Serial Television, and the Season.” Storyworlds: A Journal of Narrative Studies, vol. 2, 2010, pp. 59-77. Google Scholar

Parkin, Lance. “Truths Universally Acknowledged: How the ‘Rules’ of Doctor Who Affect the Writing.” Third Person: Authoring and Exploring Vast Narratives, edited by Pat Harrigan and Noah Wardrip-Fruin, MIT Press, 2009, pp. 13-24. Google Scholar

Pearson, Roberta. “Cult Television as Digital Television’s Cutting Edge.” Television as Digital Media, edited by James Bennett and Niki Strange, Duke UP, 2011, pp. 105-131. Google Scholar

Prudom, Laura. “‘Game of Thrones’ Leads Fantasy TV’s Transformation from Geek to Chic.” Variety, 12 Aug. 2015, variety.com/2015/tv/features/fantasy-tv-shows-american-gods-magicians-shadowhunters-shannara-1201568950/. Accessed 22 Nov. 2020. Google Scholar

Pushing Daisies. Created by Bryan Fuller, Jinks/Cohen Company and Warner Bros., 2007-2009. Google Scholar

Rimmon-Kenan, Shlomith. “How the Model Neglects the Medium: Linguistics, Language and the Crisis of Narratology.” Journal of Narrative Technique, vol. 19, no. 1, 1989, pp. 157-166. Google Scholar

Ryan, Marie-Laure. “Moving Pictures.” Narrative Across Media: The Languages of Storytelling, edited by Marie-Laure Ryan, U of Nebraska P, 2004, pp. 195-201. Google Scholar

Sconce, Jeffrey. “What If?: Charting Television’s New Textual Boundaries.” Television after TV: Essays on a Medium in Transition, edited by Lynn Spigel and Jan Olsson, Duke UP, 2004, pp. 93-112. Google Scholar

Supernatural. Created by Eric Kripke, Kripke Enterprises and Warner Bros., 2005-2020. Google Scholar

Symonds, Gwyn. “‘A Little More Soul Than is Written’: James Marsters’ Performance of Spike and the Ambiguity of Evil in Sunnydale.” Online International Journal of Buffy Studies, vol. 4, no. 4, 2005, www.whedonstudies.tv/uploads/2/6/2/8/26288593/symonds_slayage_4.4.pdf. Accessed 22 Nov. 2020. Google Scholar

Tait, R. Colin. “Character Collaborations: The Writer-Actor Relationship in Mad Men.” Screening Characters: Theories of Character in Film, Television and Interactive Media, edited by Johannes Riis and Aaron Taylor, Routledge, 2019, pp. 55-73. Google Scholar

Taylor, Robert. “Reflections: Talking with Bryan Fuller.” Comic Book Resources, 26 Oct. 2006, www.cbr.com/reflections-talking-with-bryan-fuller. Accessed 22 Nov. 2020. Google Scholar

Thomson, Nicholas. “Hollywood’s Shimmering Star: Actress Bree Turner Talks ‘Grimm’s Fairy Tales’ and the Renaissance Era of Television Series.” GALO Magazine, 29 Nov. 2013, www.galomagazine.com/movies-tv/hollywoods-shimmering-star-actress-bree-turner-talks-grimms-fairy-tales-and-the-renaissance-era-of-television-series. Accessed 22 Nov. 2020. Google Scholar

tofukillerr. “Ever notice the same sets on Supernatural.” Reddit, r/Supernatural forum, 3 Apr. 2013, www.reddit.com/r/Supernatural/comments/1bjwdw/ever_notice_the_same_sets_on_supernatural/. Accessed 22 Nov. 2020. Google Scholar

Turnquist, Kristi. “‘Grimm’: ‘Volcanalis’ - Somebody’s angry up on Mount Hood.” Oregon Live, 28 Apr. 2013, www.oregonlive.com/movies/2013/04/grimm_volcanalis_--_somebodys.html. Accessed 22 Nov. 2020. Google Scholar

Wells, Paul. “TV Animation—A Brief Overview.” The Television Genre Book. 2nd ed., edited by Glen Creeber, Palgrave Macmillan, 2008, pp. 147-152. Google Scholar

Whedon, Joss. Audio Commentary. “Welcome to the Hellmouth.” Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete First Season, episode 1, written by Joss Whedon, directed by Charles Martin Smith, Twentieth Century Fox, 2009. Google Scholar

Wilcox, Rhonda. Why Buffy Matters: The Art of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I.B.Tauris, 2005. Google Scholar

Williamson, Milly. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” The Essential Cult TV Reader, edited by David Lavery, UP Kentucky, 2010, pp. 60-67. Google Scholar

Wolf, Mark J. P. Building Imaginary Worlds: The Theory and History of Subcreation. Routledge, 2012. Google Scholar

Zeus. “Well, almost finished season 2 of Grimm… (spoilers).” Gamestop, GameFAQs forum, 22 May 2013, gamefaqs.gamespot.com/boards/270-horror/66255108. Accessed 22 Nov. 2020. Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details

Author details

O’Dette, Katarina