preparing my review of the Season
1 box set
of Poltergeist: The Legacy for this very website, I
began to wonder: why is this series called Poltergeist?
Just The Legacy would have been a more apt title, as
we hardly ever witness any poltergeists.
so the obvious answer is that it's a cheap and lazy way to
cash in on the popularity of the Poltergeist movies,
but as far as I can tell none of the characters in the TV
series appeared in any of the movies, and neither did the
organisation known as the Legacy.
right. The title might have been valid if: (a) the team battle
with poltergeists every episode; (b) the group had been set
up as a result of an event in any of the Poltergeist
movies; or even (c) the group had been founded by a
poltergeist and is thus the legacy of a poltergeist!
However, none of the above applies.
real significance of the title is, as you say, a cynical marketing
ploy to cash in on the success of the Poltergeist movies.
In other words, its title - and nothing else - is the legacy
of the movie series.
this kind of thing is not entirely without precedent. Consider
the title of Star
Trek: The Next Generation. Which "next generation"
are we talking about here? It's not the next generation of
the Enterprise crew. A generation is usually about
20-30 years, but the gap between the end of The
Original Series and the start of The Next
Generation is three or four times that duration. No, the
generation in question here exists on the other side of the
screen: it is the viewing public, the next generation of Star
series title that is often singled out for criticism is that
of Blake's 7, because the character of Blake is not
present for most of the final two series. However, I think
this show gets away with it, because the team, the seven,
was founded by Blake, therefore it's still "Blake's 7", even
when Blake is no longer around. It would have been a different
matter if the show had been called Blake and his Seven
or Blake and the Other Half Dozen.
Red Dwarf has no such excuse. The titular Jupiter Mining
Corporation vessel is conspicuous by its absence during the
series and most of the seventh.
Instead, the crew fly about in the green scout vessel Starbug,
which must have been confusing for new viewers at the time.
But that's nothing compared to the veritable violation of
the Trade Descriptions Act that is Taggart. This crime
drama has inexplicably retained the name of a character that
has been absent since the actor, Mark McManus, died in 1994.
(At least the new Morse spin-off has the decency to
call itself Lewis.) The title could have been valid
if the dearly departed officer's department had been named
after him - but no. Personally, I think ITV should have re-launched
the show as Taggart: The Legacy.
brings us back to Poltergeist.
suggest that the title would be more relevant if the team
fought poltergeists more often. This sort of begs the question:
is Buffy the Vampire Slayer still Buffy the Vampire
Slayer even when she doesn't slay any vampires that particular
week? She often fights other kinds of demons and monsters.
Now there's something to think about...