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Science Fiction & Fantasy Farscape, Babylon 5, Star Wars, Firefly, vampires, genre books and film.

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Old June 3 2014, 10:02 PM   #1
TalkieToaster
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Why isn't there more sci-fi on American TV?

Doctor Who is huge right now, and Canada has Continuum and Orphan Black, but to me there doesn't seem to be much sci-fi on American TV right now. Even "Syfy" has apparently decided that sci-fi is for losers(ironic, since nerd culture is more mainstream than ever). Why the reluctance by American networks to do more sci-fi shows?

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Old June 3 2014, 10:05 PM   #2
JarodRussell
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Re: Why isn't there more sci-fi on American TV?

Science fiction is blasphemy.
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Old June 3 2014, 10:36 PM   #3
Jim Gamma
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Re: Why isn't there more sci-fi on American TV?

Mostly due to it being seen as niche, and expensive, I would think. The special effects and stunts required for a scifi show can vastly outstrip things like "reality" TV.
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Old June 3 2014, 10:52 PM   #4
Christopher
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Re: Why isn't there more sci-fi on American TV?

Actually there's a ton of genre shows on US television these days, although the majority of them are fantasy or supernatural. Here's a list from another thread, with over two dozen genre shows slated for network airings in the 2014-15 season. Of those, the specifically science-fictional ones include:

Agent Carter
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Arrow
Beauty and the Beast
Extant
The Flash
Heroes Reborn
The 100
Person of Interest


(I'm not counting Gotham, since I assume the more SF elements of Batman will be avoided.)

And that's just on the US broadcast networks, not counting cable. Of Syfy's scripted series in the works for next season, the ones that are more SF than fantasy are:

"Pax Romana" -- Based on Jonathan Hickman's graphic novel, "Pax Romana" follows a Special Forces team back in time to ancient Rome. The future soldiers are trying to alter history in order to avoid World War III by battling the Roman legions.
...
"Clone" -- From Robert Kirkman ("The Walking Dead"), "Clone" is based on a graphic novel and follows retired soldier Luke Taylor as he navigates a vast conspiracy centered on a secret biotech program. It all begins when Luke investigates his wife's kidnapping and a break-in perpetrated by his own clone.

"Letter 44" -- Another graphic novel adaptation, newly elected President Stephen Blades receives a letter from his predecessor, revealing a mission to the asteroid belt to investigate a secret alien construction project.
...
"Killjoys" -- This 10-episode space adventure will premiere in 2015. "Killjoys" follows a trio of fun-loving interplanetary bounty hunters who chase down deadly warrants in a system on the brink of a bloody and interplanetary class war.
So I don't see a shortage of science fiction at all. On the contrary, having grown up in a time when the number of genre shows on prime-time TV could be counted on one hand, I'm amazed to see such a glut of genre programming today. I don't think SF and fantasy have ever dominated the dial as thoroughly as they do now.
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Old June 3 2014, 11:20 PM   #5
QCzar
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Re: Why isn't there more sci-fi on American TV?

Really, TalkieToaster?

Odd that this question would be framed as comparing American broadcasters to British and Canadian ones, since the US-market produces a literal order of magnitude more such series. No, it's not fair to compare the UK/Canada with the US networks, who have billions more to spend on such things. That, however, only serves to highlight the strangeness of the question.

Indeed, the US appetite for and the networks' desire to produce such outings far outstrips most every other Western country's combined*, probably in multiplicity.

This question is kinda silly. I find it difficult to believe that anyone could look at the British or Canadian sci-fi landscape and conclude that there's a dearth of same on US television.

* = In quantity, though not necessarily in quality.
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Old June 4 2014, 02:16 AM   #6
Nerys Myk
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Re: Why isn't there more sci-fi on American TV?

TalkieToaster wrote: View Post
Doctor Who is huge right now, and Canada has Continuum and Orphan Black, but to me there doesn't seem to be much sci-fi on American TV right now. Even "Syfy" has apparently decided that sci-fi is for losers(ironic, since nerd culture is more mainstream than ever). Why the reluctance by American networks to do more sci-fi shows?
I live an America and watch Continuum and Orphan Black on American TV. I also recall watching Revolution, Being Human, Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Grimm, Once Upon A Time, Defiance, Falling Skies, and Under the Dome, on American TV.
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Old June 4 2014, 02:52 AM   #7
TalkieToaster
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Re: Why isn't there more sci-fi on American TV?

Nerys Myk wrote: View Post
TalkieToaster wrote: View Post
Doctor Who is huge right now, and Canada has Continuum and Orphan Black, but to me there doesn't seem to be much sci-fi on American TV right now. Even "Syfy" has apparently decided that sci-fi is for losers(ironic, since nerd culture is more mainstream than ever). Why the reluctance by American networks to do more sci-fi shows?
I live an America and watch Continuum and Orphan Black on American TV. I also recall watching Revolution, Being Human, Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Grimm, Once Upon A Time, Defiance, Falling Skies, and Under the Dome, on American TV.
Revolution and Being Human have both been cancelled, and of the rest you mentioned, I'd say most of those are fantasy/horror.

I admit I'm not totally informed about what's on TV, so when I was talking about there being a lack of American sci-fi TV I was mostly going by popularity/buzz, not quantity. I'll admit the situation isn't as dire as I thought.
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Old June 4 2014, 02:56 AM   #8
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Re: Why isn't there more sci-fi on American TV?

SciFi is too expensive + Low ratings = Cancellation at the end of Season

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Old June 4 2014, 02:58 AM   #9
Nerys Myk
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Re: Why isn't there more sci-fi on American TV?

TalkieToaster wrote: View Post
Nerys Myk wrote: View Post
TalkieToaster wrote: View Post
Doctor Who is huge right now, and Canada has Continuum and Orphan Black, but to me there doesn't seem to be much sci-fi on American TV right now. Even "Syfy" has apparently decided that sci-fi is for losers(ironic, since nerd culture is more mainstream than ever). Why the reluctance by American networks to do more sci-fi shows?
I live an America and watch Continuum and Orphan Black on American TV. I also recall watching Revolution, Being Human, Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Grimm, Once Upon A Time, Defiance, Falling Skies, and Under the Dome, on American TV.
Revolution and Being Human have both been cancelled, and of the rest you mentioned, I'd say most of those are fantasy/horror.

I admit I'm not totally informed about what's on TV, so when I was talking about there being a lack of American sci-fi TV I was mostly going by popularity/buzz, not quantity. I'll admit the situation isn't as dire as I thought.
Its all the same, just with wizards instead of scientists. Aliens instead of demons.
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Old June 4 2014, 02:59 AM   #10
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Re: Why isn't there more sci-fi on American TV?

Dream wrote: View Post
SciFi is too expensive + Low ratings = Cancellation at the end of Season one.
Except when it's not too expensive and/or when the ratings are good. Then it equals renewal.
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Old June 4 2014, 03:02 AM   #11
Greg Cox
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Re: Why isn't there more sci-fi on American TV?

There have been a lot of new sf series in recent years: Terra Nova, Revolution, The Starcrossed, The 100, The Forever People, Falling Skies, Defiance, Flash/Forward, Intelligence, etc. And coming up we've got Ascension, Extant, The Flash, and others

Granted, many are short-lived, but that's true of any genre. Most freshman sitcoms don't survive their first seasons either. Ditto courtroom dramas, historical dramas, etc.

If anything, we've officially reached the point where there are more sf/fantasy/horror programs than any one person can watch . . ..
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Old June 4 2014, 03:05 AM   #12
Dream
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Re: Why isn't there more sci-fi on American TV?

Out Of My Vulcan Mind wrote: View Post
Dream wrote: View Post
SciFi is too expensive + Low ratings = Cancellation at the end of Season one.
Except when it's not too expensive and/or when the ratings are good. Then it equals renewal.
So you agree with me?
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Old June 4 2014, 03:13 AM   #13
Christopher
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Re: Why isn't there more sci-fi on American TV?

Greg Cox wrote: View Post
If anything, we've officially reached the point where there are more sf/fantasy/horror programs than any one person can watch . . ..
Heck, we've even reached the point where a large percentage of genre shows on the air, perhaps even a majority, are ones I don't bother to watch, which is something I never would've believed possible for most of my life. It used to be that genre shows were so rare that I watched whatever I could find. Now I wouldn't have time to watch all the genre shows even if I wanted to.
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Old June 4 2014, 03:20 AM   #14
Nerys Myk
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Re: Why isn't there more sci-fi on American TV?

Yeah when I was teenager I felt I had to watch every SF show, no matter how bad it was
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Old June 4 2014, 03:21 AM   #15
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Re: Why isn't there more sci-fi on American TV?

Lots of shows from comedies to sci-fi in the United States don't even last a full season.

The way I understand British film/tv production (not sure if Canada works the same way), is most seasons are already in the can before an episode even airs. In the U.S., episodes are filmed sometimes mere months before their air dates so that writers can tweak the series based on viewer reaction. So if a show is taking a nose dive, it might get cancelled after only 4 or 5 episodes have aired.
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