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View Full Version : What does Cult TV look like to non-fans?



Paul Beardsley
2010-Feb-28, 02:03 PM
Some TV series require you to not only watch every episode more than once, you are also required to have written at least a PhD thesis about it.

I exaggerate a little...

But what do cult shows look like to the casual viewer?

As a starting example, I watched the first episode of Lost, then gave up in boredom partway through the second. But Clare has watched it religiously from the start and intends to see it to the bitter end. I am sometimes in the room when it is on.

To me, it seems to consist entirely of a fairly small group of people walking through the same handful of locations, being very serious. Nearly every scene will include tempers flaring, and someone getting into a fight with someone else over some important matter. Nothing is ever resolved; nothing ever looks as if it might remotely approach anything even resembling a resolution.

There's a bloke called Locke who is sometimes confined to a wheelchair, and sometimes walks around with great energy. He's apparently dead but not dead. There's a fat bloke who seems to get roped into schemes; just lately he's been taking instructions from a bloke whom he can see but nobody else can.

Just recently, a lighthouse appeared on the island. "How come we never saw it before?" asked one. "Perhaps we just weren't looking for it," said another one. Wow, great dialogue - it acknowledges the continuity issue while at the same time adding to the mystery! They then go up to the top and find a further mystery. Then because it looks as if the further mystery could give the storyline some sort of direction, the non-fat bloke proceeds to smash the mirrors to prevent it from being pursued. The fat bloke assumes his invisible friend will be dismayed, given that he spent the episode setting up the mystery, but no, he's okay about it.

So what do other shows look like to casual viewers?

SolusLupus
2010-Feb-28, 02:34 PM
I've run into someone that discarded Firefly entirely because she looked down at the "duct tape" joke that Mal made to Kaylee. Apparently, there's some things that's totally inappropriate for television.

Firefly does seem to rub people the wrong way if they only hear about it instead of seeing it for themselves.

HenrikOlsen
2010-Feb-28, 02:39 PM
Battlestar Galactica: There's flashbacks and boxing and some sort of conspiracy
Lost: There's flashbacks and incredibly well-groomed people considering they're marooned and some sort of conspiracy

Strange
2010-Feb-28, 03:22 PM
Buffy: a bunch of "pesky kids" who can't even talk proper.

Tobin Dax
2010-Feb-28, 03:30 PM
I'm working my way through Farscape again. Following Henrik's lead:

There is a little muppet, a big muppet, alien muppets, a freaky guy in leather who's either real or imaginary, and how does the main character end up on a different ship every week while no one else does?

Tobin Dax
2010-Feb-28, 03:32 PM
Buffy: a bunch of "pesky kids" who can't even talk proper.
Does that purposely evoke Scooby-Doo?

Strange
2010-Feb-28, 03:47 PM
Does that purposely evoke Scooby-Doo?

Of course.

SolusLupus
2010-Feb-28, 03:53 PM
I'm working my way through Farscape again. Following Henrik's lead:

There is a little muppet, a big muppet, alien muppets, a freaky guy in leather who's either real or imaginary, and how does the main character end up on a different ship every week while no one else does?

You left out the part where the group is utterly competent when they're supposed to win, and utterly incompetent when they're supposed to lose. :D

ShadowSot
2010-Feb-28, 04:03 PM
Battlestar Galactica: There's flashbacks and boxing and some sort of conspiracy


... and everyone's a cyclon.

I dunno...

I'm told Doctor Who looks boring, campy, cheesy, and British.

X-Files is apparently overly dramatic, campy, and OMG everything a conspiracy.

hhEb09'1
2010-Feb-28, 04:34 PM
60 Minutes: tick tock tick tock

Paul Beardsley
2010-Feb-28, 05:07 PM
24: Jack Bauer's daughter is kidnapped over and over again and we're supposed to get excited about it. (I watched all of the first one, thought it was great until the cheat ending, then gave up 3 or 4 eps into the second one.)

Heroes: Some comic book stuff happens to various people including a likeable Japanese chap. Powers are random and seemingly randomly distributed.

The X-Files: The granddaddy of the interminable directionless series phenomenon. Superficially science fiction, but written by people with no knowledge of (or even interest in) science. Everyone talks in dead-serious voices and makes inane comments about alien visitors and coverups which impressionable minds failed to realise were fictional - bad fiction at that. Most insulting bit was when they pretended Gillian Anderson's pregnancy was something other than a pregnancy.

Buffy: Hey wow, this show deals with met-uh-phors! How incredibly grown up! Like, the bit where Spike tries to kill Willow but can't (because of a chip in his head), and they talk about it afterwards in a way that's reminiscent of a couple dealing with the husband's impotence. Really deep! (Some actually very good episodes, though, such as the musical one.)

CJSF
2010-Feb-28, 05:53 PM
I've run into someone that discarded Firefly entirely because she looked down at the "duct tape" joke that Mal made to Kaylee. Apparently, there's some things that's totally inappropriate for television.

Firefly does seem to rub people the wrong way if they only hear about it instead of seeing it for themselves.

I watched every episode of Firefly except one (or maybe 2) and saw Serenity. I still think it was poor-to-fair, as a whole. It had good moments and interesting premises from time to time, but I just never got the "ooh!" out of it that its fans do.

CJSF

Ara Pacis
2010-Feb-28, 06:39 PM
I think the OP nailed it when mentioning conspiracies. Cult TV is a Conspiracy Theory that fans can get into without disowning reality like they would with the Apollo Hoax or WTC, aliens, etc... except for the few shows that get cancelled, because it's obviously a real conspiracy to keep good stories off television to dumb down the population or because someone has a petty issue with Joss Whedon.

As for how it works, it's simple, really. How do you keep a gullible person in suspense?

I'll tell you tomorrow.

Tobin Dax
2010-Feb-28, 08:12 PM
You left out the part where the group is utterly competent when they're supposed to win, and utterly incompetent when they're supposed to lose. :D
Oh, no, they're always incompetent. They just get lucky every once in a while.

KaiYeves
2010-Feb-28, 08:12 PM
When I hear friends of mine who are into "Cult", or, as I call them "Commitment" shows, part of me goes "I want to help them, since they seem so interested in figuring this out, but I can't because I've never watched" and part of me kicks myself for not getting in on the ground floor like them so that I could help them solve these puzzles that seem to be fun and engrossing.

The Backroad Astronomer
2010-Feb-28, 08:44 PM
To me there are shows that are cults and others that you have to watch every episode to get what is going on. Cult shows are ones where people outside the shows talk like characters in the show, or wear similar clothes or hair styles or you can't miss a single episode. Shows like Firefly, Friends, and Sienfeld
I would put as cult shows. Commitment shows are shows that a best seen in order and best viewed with little time between them Lost, Heroes and X-files are like that. There are show that overlap of course.

AndreasJ
2010-Mar-01, 12:15 PM
As a non-fan of about every show mentioned this far, they don't particularly look to me at all - I know them pretty much exclusively from overheard conversations and online commentary and references.

Lianachan
2010-Mar-01, 05:20 PM
As a non-fan of about every show mentioned this far, they don't particularly look to me at all - I know them pretty much exclusively from overheard conversations and online commentary and references.

Same here. My somewhat limited experience of the shows mentioned thusfar is:

Lost - never watched a single episode, assidiously disinterested.
Firefly - never watched a single episode, put off it by hating Serenity.
Battlestar Galactica - see Lost. Although I did watch the original as a boy.
Buffy - see Lost.
Farscape - now this I did watch, and liked. I don't know why, particularly.
Dr Who - same status as Battlestar Galactica. Wife and kids watch it though, so seen bits and pieces.
24 - see Lost.
X-Files - seen a few episodes, but all early ones. Failed to hold any interest.

There are some shows I like, that I've seen described as "cult" - The I.T. Crowd, Black Books and Being Human, for example. Maybe it's just sci-fi TV I don't like.

stutefish
2010-Mar-02, 02:08 AM
By nature, I want to get really into cult TV shows, but after several attempts I finally realized that the writers and producers (and especially the publishers) never care about the story and characters as much as I do, and that the more invested I become, the more disappointed I shall be.

So now I only care about shows that have already been canceled, and sitcoms that have not yet jumped the shark.

SkepticJ
2010-Mar-02, 02:51 AM
Firefly - never watched a single episode, put off it by hating Serenity.

Whaaa?!

That's like hating milk chocolate, like hating kittens.

SolusLupus
2010-Mar-02, 03:34 AM
Whaaa?!

That's like hating milk chocolate, like hating kittens.

He didn't like it because it was too much like a western. And the ship looks like a horse. At least, that's the explanation I remember from way back when.

CJSF
2010-Mar-02, 04:46 AM
I love chocolate AND kittens, and I didn't like Firefly. I did laugh a lot at the Jayne episode where he was a folk hero, though.

CJSF

SolusLupus
2010-Mar-02, 05:04 AM
This thread is depressing. D:

Ara Pacis
2010-Mar-02, 05:45 AM
Would Babylon 5 be considered a cult show? Then again, would Shakespeare be considered cultish?

Torsten
2010-Mar-02, 07:10 AM
.

Torsten
2010-Mar-02, 07:11 AM
This thread is depressing. D:

I just gave up on most televison years ago, it was too depressing.

Tog
2010-Mar-02, 07:58 AM
The GF is a huge fan of Nip/Tuck. When one of the male doctors was diagnosed with breast cancer, I asked her: "So how is this not a soap opera exactly?" She told me to shut up and claimed that I ruined several episodes of the show because every time they did something stupid my words came back to her.

Lianachan
2010-Mar-02, 08:23 AM
He didn't like it because it was too much like a western. And the ship looks like a horse. At least, that's the explanation I remember from way back when.

Not exactly. The ship looking like a horse is an example of the extent to which I thought it resembled a western, rather than a reason in itself for not liking the film. I've not seen it since I said that, which must be a few years ago by now, so my recollection of the film isn't that great. But I do clearly recall that I hated it.

For the record, I'm not a huge fan of milk chocolate either. I am pleased to report that I do, however, like kittens.

Lianachan
2010-Mar-02, 08:25 AM
I just gave up on most televison years ago, it was too depressing.

Yes, me too. I hardly ever watch TV these days. There are a few things that are worth watching, even the occasional new thing, but on the whole I agree.

jokergirl
2010-Mar-02, 09:25 AM
*shrug* I like Bab5 and Firefly, but I didn't like the new Galactica at all, and most Star Trek stuff (excluding the new movie) gives me the "Meh"s. Don't care for Lost and 24 either.

Different people, different tastes.

;)

Lianachan
2010-Mar-02, 09:47 AM
Different people, different tastes.


That's exactly right. Some people like to over interpret these things though. Person A says they don't like, say, Red Dwarf.... what does that tell you about them? That they don't like Red Dwarf, and nothing else! Try mentioning on these boards that you find 2001 boring, and see what happens!*

*Disclaimer, for the easily offended. Maybe not so much on these boards, but at, say, a gathering of extremely serious sci-fi fans.

Mr Gorsky
2010-Mar-02, 10:02 AM
*shrug* I like Bab5 and Firefly, but I didn't like the new Galactica at all, and most Star Trek stuff (excluding the new movie) gives me the "Meh"s. Don't care for Lost and 24 either.

Different people, different tastes.

;)

I didn't hate Firefly, but I can certainly take it or leave it. I find the movie to be OK, good dialogue, decent story, but the series relies far too heavily on witty dialogue and interplay between the characters and leaves me basically not really caring about what is actually happening. That's fine for me in small doses, but an entire series ... no thanks. I also much prefer dark chocolate to milk and puppies to kittens, so maybe there is a direct relationship after all.

B5 I loved (probably my favourite SF/Cult show of all time), Doctor Who I love (new more than classic), and 24 I still avidly watch, but can't really work out why ... although now that we have taken delivery of Sky+ (PVR) we have the last three episodes backed up and haven't watched them yet. For some reason our entire family has also become firm fans of Legend of the Seeker, which is really nothing but your typical cheesy, fantasy fare. I have always had a soft spot for Bruce Spence though, which helps.

Farscape I never really got into, probably due to the way they promoted it as featuring genuinely alien aliens way ahead of any other show, but which turned out to be nothing more than glorified muppets.

Also ... I found 2001 boring. Although being called Dave in real life does at least give me some call to use a few choice quotes from it. One in particular!

:D

Straying on-topic for a second, the question can only really be answered if we have a definition for Cult TV. For me, 24 doesn't fit because it is a mainstream hit across the world, everyone and his dog knows who Jack Bauer is, so can it really be described as cult. B5, on the other hand, was never a massive mainstream hit but has a small, committed fanbase who still discuss the finer points of the show and its spin-offs. Doctor Who is probably a cult show in terms of the classic series, with its small band of committed fans, and massive mainstream hit (in its home country at least) in its modern form. In other countries both classic and new might be considered cult.

As to what non-fans make of them, I imagine they make of them the same things that they make of any show that doesn't interest them. Precisely nothing much, excpet they probably see them as a little sillier than a period drama that doesn't interest them.

Paul Beardsley
2010-Mar-02, 02:27 PM
Straying on-topic for a second, the question can only really be answered if we have a definition for Cult TV. For me, 24 doesn't fit because it is a mainstream hit across the world, everyone and his dog knows who Jack Bauer is, so can it really be described as cult. B5, on the other hand, was never a massive mainstream hit but has a small, committed fanbase who still discuss the finer points of the show and its spin-offs. Doctor Who is probably a cult show in terms of the classic series, with its small band of committed fans, and massive mainstream hit (in its home country at least) in its modern form. In other countries both classic and new might be considered cult.
Perhaps I shouldn't have used the word "cult". I struggled with thread titles, along the lines of "did you ever sit down to watch a late episode of a show that caters exclusively to devoted fans, and if so, what did you make of the experience?" or "have you casually watched a show that requires devoted study and if so what did you think?" But most of them were too long...


As to what non-fans make of them, I imagine they make of them the same things that they make of any show that doesn't interest them. Precisely nothing much, excpet they probably see them as a little sillier than a period drama that doesn't interest them.
Yeah, I'm really asking for first-hand accounts of what non-fans make of them. Things like "I sat down to watch an episode from the 7th season of Interminably Meandering and this is what I thought..." The results can be amusing.

Some years ago, a friend of mine started going out with a beautiful young Turkish woman. At one point he wanted to introduce her to the Daleks. Now as everybody in the world knows, Daleks are the mutant creatures who travel around the universe in their armoured vehicles following their war with the Thals on the planet Skaro, and they're really terrifying, blah blah blah...

When his g/f saw these ridiculous robot things gliding about, she collapsed in laughter and couldn't stop. Turns out there are people in the world who know nothing about the Daleks, and when they meet them they find them anything but terrifying.

I'm sure it can work the other way. Now and then you get brilliant standalone episodes. The original 1975 series of Survivors had "Law and Order", and Friends had "The One With the Fertility Test".

weatherc
2010-Mar-02, 05:23 PM
24: There are some explosions. Jack Bauer is running, and some people get shot. Jack Bauer is injured at some point, then later he says menacingly, "Get out of my way!" Then, there are some more explosions, and we find out that someone who has been a "good guy" up until this point is really a "bad guy." After that, someone else gets shot, but we don't know who until the next episode.

I've only seen the commercials for 24, but I'm pretty sure that's the gist of the show.

weatherc
2010-Mar-02, 05:28 PM
What I've always wanted to know about Lost is this: How does the fat guy stay fat if he's on a desert island and apparently walking around all the time? Does he eat another castaway each week? Is there a giant stash of Twinkies somewhere on the island that only he knows about?

Again, all of my information about the show comes from watching the commercials. I've never actually seen an episode.

Ara Pacis
2010-Mar-02, 05:46 PM
I've never watched 24, but I'm told it's war-porn/revenge-porn.

HenrikOlsen
2010-Mar-02, 05:55 PM
24: Jack Bauer needs information to save the world, again. So again he tortures someone until they tell the information. Then he saves part of the world, again. For every 24 episodes of this season. Again.

Delvo
2010-Mar-03, 03:29 AM
24: There are some explosions. Jack Bauer is running, and some people get shot. Jack Bauer is injured at some point, then later he says menacingly, "Get out of my way!" Then, there are some more explosions, and we find out that someone who has been a "good guy" up until this point is really a "bad guy." After that, someone else gets shot, but we don't know who until the next episode.

I've only seen the commercials for 24, but I'm pretty sure that's the gist of the show.You forgot the part where he proves how awesome and/or angry he is by YELLING SOMETHING REALLY LOUD!!!

grant hutchison
2010-Mar-03, 08:48 AM
You forgot the part where he proves how awesome and/or angry he is by YELLING SOMETHING REALLY LOUD!!!What he yells is: "Dammit Chloe! Download the schematics to my PDA now!"
(I say this as someone who owns and occasionally wears a "Dammit Chloe!" T-shirt.)

Grant Hutchison

swampyankee
2010-Mar-03, 11:46 AM
I pretty much think it's "cult TV" because the overriding majority, i.e., at least eighty or ninety percent, of people find it boring. Once a large fraction find it non-boring, it moves out of "cult" and into "mainstream" status. Sometimes this can be the same show at different times in its life cycle; the original version of Star Trek may fall into this group.

Ara Pacis
2010-Mar-03, 04:43 PM
I pretty much think it's "cult TV" because the overriding majority, i.e., at least eighty or ninety percent, of people find it boring. Once a large fraction find it non-boring, it moves out of "cult" and into "mainstream" status. Sometimes this can be the same show at different times in its life cycle; the original version of Star Trek may fall into this group.

Good point, a lot of the people who didn't watch the original run are dead now.

Starfury
2010-Mar-05, 12:25 AM
24: Jack Bauer's daughter is kidnapped over and over again and we're supposed to get excited about it. (I watched all of the first one, thought it was great until the cheat ending, then gave up 3 or 4 eps into the second one.)


You know what I'd like to see on the next season of 24? Kiefer Sutherland having 24 hours to revive his movie career. I might watch that.

Ara Pacis
2010-Mar-05, 06:17 AM
You'd think some of these terrorists or whatever might decide to plan things to happen across 48 hours. That'll trip him up.

Elukka
2010-Mar-07, 03:02 PM
I think Bauer is so angry all the time because he hasn't gotten any sleep nor anything to eat for over a week.
No toilet breaks either.

TJMac
2010-Mar-07, 03:33 PM
Ive rather quit watching TV much lately as well. I'm sure there are shows worth watching, but in general, I watch to be entertained, and so much of what I see, I simply do not find entertaining.

I don't expect complete reality, a lot of things are done for dramatic sake, which I can chuckle at, but accept. (Dark poorly lit autopsy rooms, for instance)

But what always irritates me, is when the producers suddenly quit on a show, when seemingly there is a fair amount of potential left before "jumping the shark".

I offer HBO's Carnivale as an example. Great cliffhanger at the end of the second season, then nada. Yeah, there was a fair amount of silliness about the Knights of the Templars, and the Freemasons, and some vague unexplained powers, but it was, (I thought) an enjoyable way to kill an hour once a week.

Hmm, just realized I completely didnt address the OP. Ah well. :shifty:

TJ

Mr Gorsky
2010-Mar-08, 12:41 PM
But what always irritates me, is when the producers suddenly quit on a show, when seemingly there is a fair amount of potential left before "jumping the shark".

I offer HBO's Carnivale as an example. Great cliffhanger at the end of the second season, then nada. Yeah, there was a fair amount of silliness about the Knights of the Templars, and the Freemasons, and some vague unexplained powers, but it was, (I thought) an enjoyable way to kill an hour once a week.

My powers of recollection may be weak, but it wasn't the producers who quit on the show, but the network (HBO?). They decided not to renew the show for a third season, hence the cliffhanger didn't get resolved. That's not the fault of the guys who make the show.

Parrothead
2010-Mar-25, 07:09 PM
Just comes down to preferences. I guess.

From back in the day, there was Twin Peaks. It got silly in the second season.
I liked Charlie Jade, still no N. Am. DVD release. I watch from the tapes I made of the show. Some of the final episodes I have, are the widescreen version, which originally aired on Space. I wasn't a fan of Firefly. I do watch Lost and 24. Getting into The Fixer (only seen a few episodes from Series 2). I liked Threshold would have loved to see that one continue. In some cases shows get cancelled by the network or just aren't renewed.

swampyankee
2010-Mar-25, 09:37 PM
24: There are some explosions. Jack Bauer is running, and some people get shot. Jack Bauer is injured at some point, then later he says menacingly, "Get out of my way!" Then, there are some more explosions, and we find out that someone who has been a "good guy" up until this point is really a "bad guy." After that, someone else gets shot, but we don't know who until the next episode.

I've only seen the commercials for 24, but I'm pretty sure that's the gist of the show.

You've missed the bit about torturing a suspect to get that time critical information.

weatherc
2010-Mar-26, 12:00 PM
You've missed the bit about torturing a suspect to get that time critical information.I guess I just haven't seen enough of the commercials. :lol:

HenrikOlsen
2010-Mar-26, 07:22 PM
I guess I just haven't seen enough of the commercials. :lol:

You catch that part when you flip randomly across an episode from time to time.
Based on a small random sampling I'd guess 10-15% of the time is spent torturing various people.

darkhunter
2010-Mar-27, 04:21 PM
Primeval: Monster of the week show with dinosaurs.

To fans, it is a fascinating show that explores some on the usually overlooked issues with time travel:

Can we change the past? (Answered with the final episode of season one and first episode of season two, and asked again with the final episode of season 3)

Can we change the future? (raised across the entire story arc over all three seasons)

Where do you draw the line with self defense and risking changes to history? (every episode)

How did the "anomolies" start in the first place? (clues were emerging towards the end of the third season, then the canceled it, and now I'm waiting to see if they answer those when the next season starts up)

Is the bad guy really a bad guy if their motives are pure but their meathods are not?

How does she do that? (answered in the final episodes of the third season)