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prion
April 29th, 2009, 01:44 PM
http://popwatch.ew.com/popwatch/2009/04/sci-fi-on-tv.html

The Great Sci-Fi Divide: Why don't we want science fiction on TV?

April 29 2009

EXCERPT:
Two weeks ago, Fox aired what was probably the final episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, a pretty solid sci-fi show which nevertheless suffered from guttery ratings. Two weeks from now, Terminator Salvation will premiere in theaters -- where it will likely make somewhere in the vicinity of $90 million in its first weekend, regardless of how "good" it is. Two separate extentions of the same franchise: one will be labeled a failure, the other a ginormous hit. Why?
.............

Even the Sci Fi Channel doesn't want to be called sci-fi anymore, despite being home to Eureka, the Stargate franchise, and next year's Caprica.
REST AT LINK ABOVE

VSS
April 29th, 2009, 05:47 PM
Interesting article, thanks, prion.
The comments were the best part. If I had to take a stab at summarizing them, I'd say it went something like this (in no particular order).

1. TV scifi is too cerebral, partly because they are serialized. However, even if the story arcs are not long and complicated, there's an entire fantasy universe one must understand to get anything out of the show.

2. The kind of CGI expected from the Scifi movies can't be duplicated on a TV budget, and therefore isn't done well.

3.History of being poorly written and acted with cheesy special effects from all that laughable science fiction we used to get in the early days. It's had a bad rep ever since.

Lythisrose
April 29th, 2009, 06:15 PM
Interesting article, thanks, prion.
The comments were the best part. If I had to take a stab at summarizing them, I'd say it went something like this (in no particular order).

1. TV scifi is too cerebral, partly because they are serialized. However, even if the story arcs are not long and complicated, there's an entire fantasy universe one must understand to get anything out of the show.

2. The kind of CGI expected from the Scifi movies can't be duplicated on a TV budget, and therefore isn't done well.

3.History of being poorly written and acted with cheesy special effects from all that laughable science fiction we used to get in the early days. It's had a bad rep ever since.

There were also quite a few comments about how people either download sci fi shows or DVR them. Or even wait till an entire season is out on DVD to watch.

Pandora's_Box
April 29th, 2009, 06:16 PM
1. TV scifi is too cerebral, partly because they are serialized. However, even if the story arcs are not long and complicated, there's an entire fantasy universe one must understand to get anything out of the show.


This.

Most television audiences don't have the patience or the inclination to put in the amount of effort it takes to stay up to date with most SF shows.

TSCC is a perfect example of a show that is very intricately woven in the past, present, and future (multiple ones) with complex characters and situations that are about more than explosions and sex.

You have to see the majority of the episodes and do more than stare in awe at Summer Glau to understand what the hell is going on. I would argue that you'd have to see them all.

The movie will do well because it only asks its audience to focus for two hours. People are okay with that.

And I won't say what else I was thinking on the topic at the risk of sounding elitist.


Have we, as a society, just become too -- gulp -- stupid for science fiction?

Are people going to kill me if I answer yes?

prion
April 29th, 2009, 06:17 PM
Interesting article, thanks, prion.
The comments were the best part. If I had to take a stab at summarizing them, I'd say it went something like this (in no particular order).

1. TV scifi is too cerebral, partly because they are serialized. However, even if the story arcs are not long and complicated, there's an entire fantasy universe one must understand to get anything out of the show.

2. The kind of CGI expected from the Scifi movies can't be duplicated on a TV budget, and therefore isn't done well.

3.History of being poorly written and acted with cheesy special effects from all that laughable science fiction we used to get in the early days. It's had a bad rep ever since.

Well, my experience with too much science fiction in tv/movies is that a) it's poorly written, or b) poorly acted. Unfortunately FAR too many shows/movies now think that CGI monsters, etc. IS science fiction. Look at scifi's saturday movies. It's just a body count with CGI monster.

VSS
April 29th, 2009, 06:58 PM
There were also quite a few comments about how people either download sci fi shows or DVR them. Or even wait till an entire season is out on DVD to watch.
Well, that's what I do. I don't even have pay TV anymore. Maybe that explains why Firefly and Stargate both surpassed expectations regarding DVD sales. The audience is bigger than they think but we're not watching the shows as they're aired.

Well, my experience with too much science fiction in tv/movies is that a) it's poorly written, or b) poorly acted. Unfortunately FAR too many shows/movies now think that CGI monsters, etc. IS science fiction. Look at scifi's saturday movies. It's just a body count with CGI monster.
Yes, I agree. Whatever happened to scifi shows that made one think? Well, I guess Pandora answered that question already.

Even without serialization, scifi shows have a complex mythology that takes quite a bit of viewing time to understand- I suppose I always knew that but I didn't think that would put people off. I guess it does. I've also heard people say Stargate isn't serialized as compared to BSG, but I disagree. It's just not so obvious, but the "universe" or mythology of stargate is far more complex than BSG, IMHO. It's just that much of it is in the environment, not in the character interactions. Things like the stargate itself, the physiology of the goa'uld, all the different races, etc. I was mystified that anyone would try to say Continuum was a stand-alone movie. It wasn't. The story was standalone, but the mythology was huge.

So even more episodic series like SG-1 are far more complex than your average show. Complexity just isn't something you can get away from in scifi without just becoming the monsters-and-aliens variety that gives scifi its bad rep.

Pandora's_Box
April 29th, 2009, 07:13 PM
So even more episodic series like SG-1 are far more complex than your average show. Complexity just isn't something you can get away from in scifi without just becoming the monsters-and-aliens variety that gives scifi its bad rep.

Precisely. And the complexity is why I love SF shows more than I do any other genre.

Green for you. :D

katikatnik
April 30th, 2009, 01:47 AM
It's also possible that for a scifi lover, some shows aren't scifi enough. Yes, T:TSCC was scifi but set in present time and it was more of a psychological drama - which is understandable with a small budget (compared to the Terminator movie).

I for one love scifi of the "space" sort - foreign planets, space ships, space battles etc. But also with lovable characters. And because of that, it's really hard for me to find a scifi show that I could love - I won't watch a scifi just because it's scifi. I loved SG-1, SGA and the old Galactica, I loved ST:TNG and B5. But I disliked quite intensely the new Galactica and ST: DS9 (too much politicking). With ST:V and ST:E I was on the fence most of the time.

So yeah, for me, a scifi show has to hit me on both levels: the scifi one and the character one. And that's kinda hard to get.

ph30nix
April 30th, 2009, 08:17 AM
i cant agree with people not having the attention span to get into sci fi, cause quite frankly look at shows like
Lost, Prison Break, jerricho? (while jerricho didnt last long it got a HUGE fan base) Heros, those shows got confusin as Hell and some people never missed epsisodes.

so no attention span isnt the problem.

want to know the real problem? ill tell ya, When people think of sci fi like someone above said they think of old school Star Trek, or some cheesy tvshow. and when they think of the peopel who watch Sci Fi they think of those StarTrek fan bois who take it way to far.

They dont want to be associated with that good example.
On of my best Female freinds who i love to death has said she woudl never date me cause she sees me as a dork, Mind you i follow Football and baseball religiously i never miss a Tribe game if i can help it, i play paint ball at least every other weekend, i spend at most 2-4 hours a week on a computer or video game.

here is why she sees me as a dork
I have said before i liked Star trek, and Sci fi shows. and watched them in front of her. Oh and while i dont play them often i enjoy video games.

I even went so far as to do the Movie Vs Tv compairson, she loves the Terminator Movies when i told her they were Sci Fi she didnt like that, we went threw a few other movies she "loved" and i pointed out they are all Sci Fi to and extend even if the movie industry sells them as horror, or Action, her response "im not a Dork" LOL i just hugged her and said welcome to the family.

VSS
April 30th, 2009, 08:58 AM
They dont want to be associated with that good example.
On of my best Female freinds who i love to death has said she woudl never date me cause she sees me as a dork, Mind you i follow Football and baseball religiously i never miss a Tribe game if i can help it, i play paint ball at least every other weekend, i spend at most 2-4 hours a week on a computer or video game.

Lol! Your friend needs to learn that geeks make the best boyfriends. I never have to worry about what my husband's up to- he's playing WoW! :P

blitzsnake
April 30th, 2009, 09:16 AM
It's because they air on niché channels with only the sci-fi fanbase to cover it. I've recommended BSG to alot of "non-scifi" fans and they were all pleasently surprised by the quality of the show. They all said they expected it to be Star Trek with the lasers and force shields which made them turn down the show in the first place. So I think that TV sci-fi has this "geek" mark on it, which is of course not true. It's just that Star Trek, the show that started the TV sci-fi phenomenon is actually now affecting the medium in a negative way.

heliosphere
April 30th, 2009, 10:44 AM
I can't access the article right now for some weird reason, but was there any mention of expectations for the new Trek movie? Because I really think above all, Star Trek seems to be the big one labeled as the show geeks watch, and a lot of sci-fi gets compared to it in some way or another.

ph30nix
April 30th, 2009, 12:07 PM
Lol! Your friend needs to learn that geeks make the best boyfriends. I never have to worry about what my husband's up to- he's playing WoW! :P

hopefully ill get the chance to show her in person ;)

Callista
April 30th, 2009, 01:49 PM
For me, personally, I think I don't watch a lot of these newer shows because I don't trust the network not to yank it before it reaches some sort of resolution.

It seems to me that a lot of Science Fiction series have some sort of mystery that runs through the show, even if it isn't necesarilly the focus of every episode.

For example, with the X-Files there were episodes based on all sorts of different legends/phenomena but there was also the mystery of what happened to Mulder's sister. SG-1 had a little of that after "Torment of Tantalus" with finding out who built the gates and who the different races were. In both of those shows, though, a viewer wouldn't really have to watch every single episode in order to still get some enjoyment out of the show.

Then you've got something like "Life on Mars" or "Dollhouse". Those two started right off the bat with a big mystery that the viewer knows they'll probably have to pay very close attention and watch every episode if they're going to find out what's going on. Well, I started watching both and then for one reason or another I missed an episode or two and I just never watched again because by then I didn't know what was going on. I wasn't hooked enough on either one by that point that I'd go out of my way to find the episodes I'd missed. With "Lost", it sounded like such an unlikely series at the beginning that I didn't watch it assuming it would get cancelled before telling us any answers that I didn't ever start. By the time it was a hit, I kind of felt like I was already too far behind and I didn't want to invest the time required to catch up. Same with the new BSG.

Now the shows like Law and Order a viewer can pick up at any time and watch whenever they want and in whatever order they want and whenever it ends, it ends. There's no question about resolutions because there's no mystery running through it. The same could be said for most sit-coms.

I guess what I'm saying is that Science Fiction shows in general require a bit more dedication to watch if you want to really understand what's going on than most other shows. And if I'm going to dedicate that kind of time and effort, I want to trust that there will be some sort of pay-off.....which I don't.

With a movie, unless the power goes out, you're almost always going to get the pay-off.

leiasky
April 30th, 2009, 02:14 PM
Have we, as a society, just become too -- gulp -- stupid for science fiction?


In a way, yes. People's have short attention spans nowadays. They don't want to invest the time in following a serialized show. They can follow a 2 hour feature because that's all of their time that's being invested.

I LOVED TSCC but when they moved it from Monday to Friday nights, I couldn't follow it. I missed a few episodes and was lost.

VSS
April 30th, 2009, 03:14 PM
I wonder if there isn't a silver lining in all of this, though. If these serialized, complex shows do manage to grab viewers, maybe they'll end up buying the DVDs just to figure everything out. I certainly did with BSG- a friend recommended it, I watched a couple of eps and then went back and bought the rest.

Perhaps this is why Firefly, for example, had such great DVD sales. And I guess the Stargate franchise tends to do well in that regard as well. I think that the time is coming when the studios will bypass the middleman, i.e. the TV channels, and go straight to the viewing public. Perhaps then it won't matter what is called "scifi" and what isn't, since DVDs can be listed in multiple genres on Amazon, itunes, etc. One thing is for sure, scifi shows probably lead they way in terms of alternative methods of viewing besides sitting down on Friday night in front of the TV, so they might make this leap first.