Monday, March 16, 2015

Cult-TV Theme Watch: Typewriters

A typewriter is a machine used for writing.  Obsolete in the age of computers, typewriters utilize an ink ribbon which stamps impressions of alphabet letters on paper.

The typewriter has appeared frequently in cult-tv history, especially on series that feature investigative reporters or journalists. 

For example, the opening credits of Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974 – 1975) feature Carl Kolchak (Darren McGavin) entering his office late at night, and he starts to pound out an article on his typewriter, which is seen in close-up.

Before the age of Smallville (2001 – 2011) and personal computers and tablets, Clark Kent and Lois Lane had a regular ally in the typewriter, on Adventures of Superman (1951 – 1958).

The great bane (Bain?) of some Space: 1999 (1975 – 1977) fans is the presence of an electric typewriter, rather than a computer, in a beloved episode of the Gerry and Sylvia Anderson space epic.  In particular, “Dragon’s Domain” features a scene of Dr. Helena Russell (Barbara Bain) typing out a report on an orange typewriter and paper.  Some devoted and highly-talented fans have lovingly re-edited the sequence to have her at work on a more era appropriate keyboard and monitor.

And in the Deep Space Nine (1993 – 1999) episode “Far Beyond the Stars,” the writers and editors of Incredible Tales, a 1950s pulp sci-fi magazine, tap out their stories on old-fashioned typewriters.

The shift from typewriters to computers came with the missing link of the “word processor” in the 1980s, and stories such as Tales from the Darkside (1984 – 1988) “The Word Processor of the Gods.”

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