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Old November 23 2012, 07:06 PM   #3
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Re: Is The Science Channel after our hearts?

The thing is, the shows The Science Channel is picking -- Firefly and Fringe -- rate very, very low on the scientific-plausibility scale. Firefly didn't even figure out until the movie whether it was set in a single star system or a whole galaxy. And the only way to do a "Science of Fringe" feature like they're reportedly going to would be to explain how horribly wrong and nonsensical all the "science" in Fringe actually is.

Granted, there aren't many SFTV shows out there that have anything remotely resembling competent science, but there have been a few. Most of ST:TNG had relatively good science compared to later Trek shows. The Stargate franchise was often pretty good with the science -- SG-1's "Tangent" was one of the best hard-SF stories I've ever seen on TV, and Stargate Universe as a whole had pretty solid science thanks to using SF novelist John Scalzi as a consultant. The first season and a half of Andromeda was a pretty solid hard-SF show, although it went completely off the rails after its developer/showrunner Robert Hewitt Wolfe was let go. The first season or two of Primeval were pretty good with the paleontology, aside from some dramatic license, since that show was basically a spinoff of the Walking With Dinosaurs educational franchise, but again, it's gotten more and more fanciful and conceptually sloppy with each season since.

It's frustrating to me how little good science there is in SFTV and film, since I've always found SF to be a great vehicle for teaching science in an entertaining way. I'd love to see a channel that developed new SF programming that was designed to be plausible and educational. But I won't hold my breath. You can call yourself the Science Channel or the Discovery Channel or the Learning Channel, but the bottom line is that as long as you need to sell ad time to stay in business, you'll put ratings over educational integrity every time. That's why TLC and Discovery have so little on them that qualifies as educational anymore; even the venerable Mythbusters seems to have let the experimental process suffer in the name of simplicity and spectacle lately. And the Science Channel will pick up any show that they think will help them garner ratings, regardless of its educational merit, which is how we got the ludicrous situation of Fringe being passed off as a vehicle for teaching about science.
Written Worlds -- Christopher L. Bennett's blog and webpage
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