In the Lost in Space thread the reviewer covered an episode called "Return from Outer Space" where Will Robinson gets beamed back Earth in the "present" (which for the series was 1997). What always struck me about the episode was how not futuristic the town Will Robinson visits appeared. In fact the entire community looked rather retrograde and would not have seemed out of place on The Andy Griffith Show. Even as a kid watching Lost in Space in reruns during the 1980s, I never bought the idea that Will Robinson was actually supposed on Earth in the 1990s. For me, what hurt the story was that this place that was supposed to exist 10 years in my future seemed not only out of date but lacked anything that screams look I'm in the future.
When you really think about though, the future rarely looks "futuristic." If the youthful me of the 1980s had been pulled into small town America in 2012 would it really seem all that futuristic? Yeah some of the TVs would be flat, and the cars might be curvier, and people would be carrying their telephones in their pockets...but how much of that would be noticeable?
It goes to the question of how should the future be depicted on TV. Irwin Allen productions, despite their outlandish stories, usually had a VERY restrained visions of the future. Some of that is budgetary. But more often than not, his shows never look or feel like they take place in the future. Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
takes place between 1973-1984 yet with the exception of the odd video phone (which appears in season 2 and then disappears) never looks more advanced than the 1960s. The same was largely try for his other series. Compare this to say Gerry Anderson who always tried to make things look futuristic. UFO
features a very "mod" 1960s vision of futurism with jet cars, Nehru Jackets and purple wigs. UFO
manages to scream futuristic while also looking very dated. Space: 1999
had the same issue of screaming...look the future while giving us uniforms with bell bottoms and platform shoes, and lots of molded plastic furniture.
So the question is, who futuristic should the future look? Does trying to make the future seem like the future actually work against such productions in the long run?