Monday, 8 February 2010

What's in a name?

The art of the episode title is something that the science fiction and fantasy genres have got a head start on thanks to their pushing the boundaries in terms of subject matter. Because they don't necessarily have to relate to reality, sci fi shows can go out there at bit with their titles as well, borrowing from literary sources and quoting all out of context, but coming up with titles as wierd, wonderful and portentous as the shows themselves.

STAR TREK in all its variations has come up with some wonderful titles. FOR THE WORLD IS HOLLOW AND I HAVE TOUCHED THE SKY for example. It just reeks of quality and makes you want to know more. And who wouldn't have wanted to take a holiday in the CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER? DEEP SPACE NINE went LOOKING FOR PAR’MACH IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES and tried to right WRONGS DARKER THAN DEATH OR NIGHT.

More modern pretender to the throne BATTLESTAR GALACTICA had a more practical line in episode titles, but still gave us A DISQUIET FOLLOWS MY SOUL and ISLANDED IN A STREAM OF STARS, both of them quality titles.

Of course, a title doesn't have to have a literary quality to it to be great. LOST'S best episode title was the more mundane ALL THE BEST COWBOYS HAVE DADDY ISSUES and SOMEHOW SATAN GOT BEHIND ME was offered up by X-FILES follow up MILLENNIUM.

And then there are the funny ones. A funny title usually has to be clever such as PUSHING DAISIES episode DIM SUM, LOSE SOME. A TOWN CALLED EUREKA found a knack for these in its later seasons, giving us the puns of BAD TO THE DRONE, SHOW ME THE MUMMY, FROM FEAR TO ETERNITY and SHIP HAPPENS. Cleverest of them all, however, was 3rd ROCK FROM THE SUN's I AM DICK PENTAMETER. That same show, though came up with the much less clever, but just as fun BIG ANGRY VIRGIN FROM OUTER SPACE. How could you resist an episode with that for a title?

There can also be the promise of advice from these shows. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER was able to offer the advice NEVER KILL A BOY ON THE FIRST DATE which would appear to be good advice whilst HEROES offered to tell us HOW TO STOP AN EXPLODING MAN.

The daddy of all the great episode titling shows, though, was BABYLON 5, which delighted in great, literary sounding titles. Get a load of these - MIDNIGHT ON THE FIRING LINE, THE GEOMETRY OF SHADOWS, PASSING THROUGH GETHSEMANE, CEREMONIES OF LIGHT AND DARK, FALLING TOWARDS APOTHEOSIS and INTERSECTIONS IN REAL TIME.

And the greatest episode title of all time. Well, for our money that goes to BABYLON 5 as well for the impossible to dislike THE DECONSTRUCTION OF FALLING STARS.

No comments: