Saturday, 6 December 2008

Torturous sci-fi (MAC387)

One of the main themes I'm going to be exploring in next week's lecture on MAC387, the Science-Fiction Television module, is the necessity of human suffering. More specifically, I'm going to be looking at the use of torture as a plot device in the recent re-imagining of Battlestar Galactica.

It seems to me that the human suffering, or at least the very threat of human suffering plays an active role in those US television shows which are affiliated with the fantasy and science-fiction genres. Of course, human suffering is not restricted to these genres - after all the Fox show 24, has long used the device as an essential plot point. Jack Bauer both tortures and is tortured throughout the 6 series that have aired to date. I'll never forget the impact that Season 1 Episode 11 (10:00am) had on me, when Jack threatens the business man Ted Coffell with the Gulag technique - pulling the acid from the stomach up the windpipe using little more than a cloth. It was the idea or the threat of violence which was more affective rather than later episodes which 'showed' rather than 'told'.

Anyway, this post is mainly a listing exercise. I thought I'd put a few memorable torture sequences from fantasy/sci-fi series up here just in case I forget them during next week's sessions. Also, as the essay question I set deals with this issue I thought it would be a good place for students to find relevant examples. I've already lost a set of ideas/episodes that I had written down on a post-it note so the digital version might fare a little better

Battlestar Galactica Season 1 Episode 8 'Flesh and Blood'

Battlestar Galactica Season 2 Episode 10 'Pegasus'

Battlestar Galactica Season 3 Episode 13 'Taking A Break Form All Your Worries'
Video below

Firefly Season 1 Epsiode 10 'War Stories'


Lost Season 1 Episode 8 'Confidence Man'

Video below

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles Season 2 Episode 4 'Allison From Palmdale'

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles Season 2 Episode 9 ' Complications'

Stargate SG1 Season 7 Episode 11/12 'Evolution 1 + 2'

Heroes Season 2 Episode 2 'Lizards'


Heroes Season 2 Episode 9 'Cautionary Tales'
Video below


Heroes Season 3 Episode 10 'It's Coming'

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 6 'Chain of Command Part 1 + 2'

If you can think of any more stand out sci-fi/fantasy shows with scenes of torture be sure to let me know.

4 comments:

Neil Perryman said...

All of Star Trek is torture. For the viewer, that is.

John Paul said...

Well you could read the interrogation of Number 6 in The Prisoner as torture I guess and then of course there is Winston Smith in the BBC's adaptation of 1984 - welcome to room 101.

Rob Jewitt said...

I take it Perryman has not made it through much of DS9 then? I know, I know: B5 B5 B5 B5

Rob said...

I watched Hancock at the weekend- that wasn't quite the torturous experience I expected it to be.

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