Saturday, 1 May 2010

Review: Fantastic TV by Steven Savile

Publisher: Plexus
Format: Large paperback
Released: May 2010
Grade rating: B+/A-

Amazon summary:

Fantastic TV is an illustrated celebration of five decades of sci-fi and fantasy series. Featuring interviews with writers and creators of each of the classic shows covered, offering a unique insight into the impact of genre TV from the men and women who brought their visions to life on the small screen. Interviewees reminiscences and the author s loving tributes describe the importance and/or uniqueness of all these different shows; how they relate to the world of genre fiction; how video truly did kill off its radio star predecessor, and how these shows continue to influence the writers and artists of today.


I don't usually review non-fiction books like this, but I'm a huge fan of TV shows, so Fantastic TV was a must read for me. It's a really well presented book, complete with black and white photographs and a lot more text than I expected.

Fantastic TV covers '50 years of cult fantasy and science-fiction', as the cover says. It covers everything from Lost in Space and Star Trek to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Supernatural. It even includes lesser known shows such as the short-lived Channel 4 vampire show Ultraviolet, which was first broadcast here in the UK in 1998. Savile splits the book up into 8 sections, each with cool titles like 'Stranger Things Happen' and 'A New Kind of Hero'. The shows are then organised into their relative sections, which makes Fantastic TV very easy to read when flicking through it as a coffee table book.

Savile delves into the history and influences of each show, while giving a detailed description of its plot and who it will appeal to. He also analyses trends responsible for each show's inception, and reasons behind their popularity. When reading Fantastic TV, you can absolutely tell how much Savile loves what he's writing about. Like me, he's a fan of TV, and has an immense passion for it. This makes it very easy to connect with his writing and his style and, as a fan of these shows, puts you on a somewhat personal level with him. There are no glaring continuity mistakes in his research (that I noticed), and I can only imagine the fun he had compiling this handbook for TV enthusiasts.

I would have liked to see a few more fun sections - maybe memorable quotes from the shows or some trivia - just to break up the blocks of text a bit more. I personally love finding out random facts and figures, and while there are some interspersed within each show's main information, I thought that was an area that could have been explored more.

Fantastic TV is just that - a fantastic recource for fans of TV. The shows have been thoughtfully chosen, and though it would have been impossible to cover everything, the shows it does cover are definitely the right ones. Whether you're a fan of Mulder and Scully, Wonder Woman or the Doctor himself, there's something in here for everyone, along with lots to learn about your favourite characters, new or old.


Kate Evangelista said...

Wow, you do reviews for these too?

prophecygirl said...

Kate - I don't usually, but like I said, I'm a big TV fan! :)

Becky said...

Does it feature Stargate Atlantis? That is my most favourite programme ever!!!! Even above The Mentalist and I am obsessed with Simon Baker LOL!

Steven Savile said...

Thanks for this, made my evening - and yep, there's plenty on SGA and SG1.

Best wishes

Lauren said...

This is the kind of book I'd have been likely to pick up as a teen, mostly because there wasn't so much info readily available on the internet then. But now you mention it, I like the idea of something like this as a coffee table book. And it's good to hear that there's some UK shows in there.

So Many Books, So Little Time said...

This isn't something I'd usually pick up, but it sounds pretty interesting.

Karen said...

Thanks for reviewing this one, I'd not heard of it. I've placed a reservation at the library, where it's on order,