Monday, February 08, 2016

Cult-TV Theme Watch: Hearts

The heart has, for the better part of a century, been the symbol of St. Valentine’s Day. Before modern times, the heart was also believed to be the human organ of emotions and feelings.

In cult-TV history the heart has been a plot point several times.

In Space: 1999 (1975-1977) for instance, it was known that Professor Victor Bergman (Barry Morse) had an artificial heart. In the Year Two story, “Catacombs of the Moon,” Dr. Russell (Barbara Bain) had to transplant an artificial or mechanical heart into another Alphan.

In Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994), during the second season episode “Samaritan Snare,” audiences learn that Captain Jean Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), similarly, possesses a mechanical or artificial heart, all owing to a bar fight (and stabbing) during his youth.

In many more examples from cult-TV history, however, the heart is a symbol of horror.  An episode of The Evil Touch (1973) called “Game of Hearts” involves a corpse who, having had his heart transplanted to a new person, wants it back…and seeks it from the transplant doctor (Darren McGavin).

The X-Files (1993 – 2002) episode “Milagro,” involves a psychic surgeon -- and murderer -- who removes the beating heart from his victims.  Those victims often happen to be in love; a fact which signifies the meaning or purpose of the heart in terms of legend

Torn out hearts are a regular feature, too, of horror dramas.  The vampires of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003), Angel (1999 – 2005), True Blood (2008 – 2014), The Vampire Diaries (2009 - ) and The Originals (2014 - ) regularly rip hearts of human or vampire chests in an example of a very brutal kill.  For extra points, the vampires sometimes eat the hearts.

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