September 26th, 2011, 12:52 PM
Where has my science fiction gone?
I'm sure you've all heard this question before, for various reasons, from various people. No one seems to wonder such, however, for quite the same reasons, though.
When I say "my science fiction," I mean the shows and movies of old of "good versus evil," "good guys triumph in the end," "stories of undying love and loyalty," and "skill and courage, against insurmountable odds." That, and I suppose, more than I could list in any reasonable amount of time. Things like the old stuff, Star Wars and Star Trek, as well as the newer stuff, like Farscape, Stargate SG-1, the First Wave, and the like. I'm leaving a lot out, but for some reason my brain doesn't want to function, right now.
I loved those shows. They brought me to a world where people weren't all hypocrits, where honor, love, bravery, they mattered, and they moved the world and the people in it. It was my escape from the far from perfect world we all live in.
Now, though, all the new shows I see, be it fantasy, or science fiction, look, sound, and feel like soap opera's to me. They just can't seem to make a show that isn't entirely about drama, or "character development" which seems to be synonymous with "juggling around a half dozen relationships, often more than one at the same time throughout several seasons." Some shows such as BSG and Stargate Universe, although I happen to like the former of these at least a little, can't even seem to get through an episode without someone having some ridiculous fault in their mindset that causes them to betray, or otherwise screw up, whatever they happen to be doing.
Stargate Universe takes this to an extreme, but they did so out of imitation. The fact that they thought this was "good writing" just astounds me, and makes me mourn the loss of the old style of showmaking.
It is to the point now that every time I look at a new scifi show, in hopes that it will be my next escape from the jerk living accross from me, or the annoying customers that stop by, or whatnot, I come away dissapointed, the thought of "oh, another scifi drama, joy" lingering at the forefront of my mind. I might sound like the old man saying "back in my day," but it seems to me there has been a distinct change of focus in my beloved genre, and I wonder:
Am I alone in this?
September 26th, 2011, 01:13 PM
Live Long & Suffer
The science fiction society is affecting our science fiction.
Television has to compete with cable which has to compete with the Internet which has to compete with games and reruns and DVDs. There are shows on Hulu I never heard of, like New Amsterdam, a variation on Highlander.
I only watched Stargate Universe off the Internet. But I quit watching Stargate SG-1 in its second season. So what is good science fiction?
You didn't mention Babylon 5. That is the best TV sci-fi to date. And it had good character development.
But everybody has the problem of what to do to attract an audience these days.
September 26th, 2011, 01:18 PM
I did preface the list by saying my brain didn't seem to want to work at the moment. B5, and Andromeda were two I left off. I loved them both immensely, especially the canceled one at the end of the b5 run. Crusade, I think it was? But thats actual character development. It seems to me that recent character development excludes anything that doesn't involve sex, internal conflict, or interpersonal strife, hence my lack of appreciation for it. By nature of the term, character development should be all inclusive, and when it focuses on what today's society wants to see with the exclusion of much else, I guess it just bores, and to a lesser degree, repulses me.
Originally Posted by psikeyhackr
Last edited by Shorn; September 26th, 2011 at 01:27 PM.
September 26th, 2011, 01:41 PM
Just go on YouTube and watch Gary the Cylon. It's amazing.
I understand where you're coming from, though. I've watched maybe half of the first season of the Battlestar Galactica reboot, and whilst it's fairly good watching, it's full of people doing rather unprofessional things.
September 26th, 2011, 06:32 PM
Agreed! I think this is a sad byproduct of the reality TV age. People want drama, and to judge others for their actions, not actual conflict and resolution.
Originally Posted by Shorn
Last edited by mumford; December 7th, 2011 at 12:12 AM.
September 27th, 2011, 03:54 AM
Sci Fi isn't fashionable at the moment. If it hasn't got a vampire, werewolf or ghost in it, nobody wants to know - publishers, producers and consumers alike. That counts for books and TV/Film.
I also think there's a trend towards grittier stuff in sci-fi with an emphasis on 'nobody's perfect', so the old-style, galaxy-spanning battle between good and evil has become a cage-fight between two shades of grey.
September 27th, 2011, 05:47 AM
September 27th, 2011, 10:39 AM
Trek (all series), SG (original), SG Atlantis had essentially zero realism. Good guys always won, bad guys were horrible morons. Dont get me long, I loved trek when young, and I enjoyed SG and event SG Atlantsis for a while.
...but I dont know if I could watch stuff like that anymore. SGU, Caprica, BSG and many others at least try, to varying degrees, to have more realism than the old shows. I dont love all the new shows, and I understand people whining about essentially too much realism leaching out excitement (in SGU, for example). That said, I for one, dont wont to go back to the old style. I can do without ever seeing another Trek variant done the old way.
@martielillycrop, I think you are confusing the explosion of interest in vampires, etc, with decreased interest in sci-fi. I dont think there has actually been any sort of decrease at all. Yes, fantasy kicks our butt far worse than it ever used too, but to some extent, maybe just a little, a rising tide lifts all ships -- i.e. my impression is that there may actually be more sci-fi shows/movies than there were in the 90s, for example. Heck, last night, a pilot which cost $15 million to make premiered (Terra Nova).
Edit: Well, they are still making Eureka, which has as little realism as anything I can think of, so obviously there are exceptions. I still think we are trending to more realism in sci-fi shows.
Last edited by ArtNJ; September 27th, 2011 at 10:55 AM.
September 27th, 2011, 11:03 AM
Actually, I read somewhere that Eureka got their walking papers a few weeks back. They had already plotted the first half of season 5, they were told they were cancelled, and they were given one episode to wrap the show (and from what I read, it wasn't even doing badly, they just hope they can do better with a new show). I've never watched it, but a lot of people seemed to like it, and its cancellation seems to be another nail in SyFy's coffin. If viewers can't trust that shows will be brought to a natural conclusion, why will they invest time in them?
Originally Posted by ArtNJ
September 27th, 2011, 11:39 AM
Live Long & Suffer
Stargate Atlantis had a certain kind of realism that I have never seen in any other TV program. It turns up now and then in some sci-fi books.
Originally Posted by ArtNJ
Consider the personality of Rodney McKay. What happens to kids like him in school? I remember watching a 17 year old kid cry in class because he got a B in one grading period. I almost started laughing. He was the closest thing I had to an enemy in class. Then I thought about the hundreds of hours of idiotic busywork he had to do for years to get straight A's in EVERYTHING. I got straight D's in religion freshman year so I wasn't in competition for valedictorian.
Most people use this technology and take it for granted but we don't see the people behind it that much. But I see people buy what I regard as junk and brag about it.
SG-A had a certain kind of psychological realism to it that exposed the real geeks and sometimes made it funny and sometimes made it tragic.
Like that ad at the top of this page about training to overhaul and engine. A turbine car almost won the Indy500 in 1968 and then they were banned. Why don't we have turbine cars? What sense did it make to ban the fastest technology from a car race even if they didn't make good consumer cars? People would have demanded them anyway though.
September 27th, 2011, 12:06 PM
Originally Posted by ArtNJ
In that case, I wish Buffy, Angel and Lost Girl would get off the Sci-Fi Channel. (UK, that is - I don't know what the US Sci-Fi Channel is like.) In what universe can Buffy or Angel be called Sci-Fi? This is not counting the watered down stuff like Warehouse 13 and Haven, both of which I find impossible to watch but are apparently what the producers think we want.
TBH I would rather watch some of those old 90s series: Farscape, Lexx, Space Above and Beyond and Babylon 5, than the stuff they're churning out these days. The ancient CGI might grate on our spoiled tastes, but at least they were inventive shows with discernable story arcs and good characters.
My opinion is pending re Terra Nova - SGU started out very promising but quickly spiralled into pap. Let's hope this new show doesn't do the same.
September 27th, 2011, 12:10 PM
SyFy show things from all three 'genre' aspects - Fantasy (Often Urban Fantasy), Sci-Fi and Horror. They're not exclusively a science fiction channel and have never acted as such.
The SyFy UK channel is abysmal not because it shows Buffy et al, but because it shows nothing really that interesting. It recycles the same heavily recycled shows and it puts its usual naff films on between those shows. There's no reason to watch SyFy bar the odd new show (Like Warehouse 13).
Farscape, for example, is shown on one of the other channels (FX, perhaps). Other sci-fi shows have just gone *pop* and out of existence. Apart from Futurama, of course, and that's always fun to watch.
September 27th, 2011, 12:21 PM
Yeah, I thought Terra Nova was generally fine but have my doubts about where its going with 6ers and the junk on the rocks. Rating wise, shockingly mediocre start given the crazy cost of the show and heavy promotion (only 9 million viewers).
Originally Posted by martielillycrop
I like Haven a lot, but, you know, different strokes and all that.
September 30th, 2011, 01:49 AM
I've mostly stopped watching TV a long time ago and prefer reading with the occasional movie or miniseries. One development I've always found amusing is how themed cable channels often morph into something else. MTV seldom plays music anymore, the History Channel seems to avoid history like the plague, and the Sci-Fi has branched into Fantasy, Horror, or the dreaded, awful "real-life" haunting stories.
Originally Posted by martielillycrop
October 3rd, 2011, 11:02 AM
I write SF. SF is cool.
Let's face it: Science fiction is growing up, quite literally.
The SF shows you mentioned from your past, Trek and Star Wars, etc, were the equivalent of kids going outside to play "army men" in the grass. (Or, it this case, "space men" in the dirt.) The latest SF, programs like Galactica, reflect the more adolescent considerations of people and relationships, place in society, and how important they are, even to the exclusion of external factors and influences.
From this, we can probably expect to get to a more "practical" SF in the future, stories that balance the earlier youthful optimism and teen search for place in society, with a more realistic search for a survival plan that works beyond the end of the week. Less dealing with world-shattering crises, and more dealing with the everyday issues in life.
I admit, it doesn't sound as exciting as James T. Kirk flying a half-dead starship into the maw of a Doomsday Machine. But that's life: Sometimes the biggest decision you have to make is where to go for lunch.