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Old April 21 2009, 01:06 AM   #1
Valandil
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Why is there no pure Sci-Fi on TV today?

http://www.scifiheaven.net/index.php...ision-anymore/

... Few networks seem willing to back a science fiction show in general. Take Dollhouse for instance, where FOX forced Joss Whedon to splice apart his pilot script and spread it across the first six episodes - destroying the original intention of the writers. Why? Because the networks want to market the shows in their own way. Their aim is simple: to make money and out-muscle their rivals. Writers could pitch pure science-fiction all day, and networks would shoot them down repeatedly or dramatically edit them, because they do not feel there is a market for them. Yet often these executives are little more than number-crunchers, with little understanding of television relative to the actual viewer in their home. But why should they back a new sci-fi show, when shows like American Idol are infinitely cheaper to produce, and pull in far more viewers? It certainly makes business sense to knock off a few more of these shows, leaving science-fiction to the realm of the past and no longer needed...
Any thoughts?
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Old April 21 2009, 02:10 AM   #2
FreezeC77
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Re: Why is there no pure Sci-Fi on TV today?

Why should there be pure Sci-Fi on TV ever since the person in charge of a network supposedly dedicated to just SCI-FI decided that shows were too "Sci-Fiy" and needed to have more mainstream appeal.

If a pure sci-fi show couldn't then exist on a network created for just that, then what chance is there of an executive on a major network allowing something like a pure Sci-Fi show?
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Old April 21 2009, 02:39 AM   #3
Lt. Trull
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Re: Why is there no pure Sci-Fi on TV today?

If we could understand this question we wouldn't like message boards like this one....
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Old April 21 2009, 02:45 AM   #4
Kelso
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Re: Why is there no pure Sci-Fi on TV today?

Pure scifi is boring.


Well, to ordinary people, anyway.
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Old April 21 2009, 03:25 AM   #5
Temis the Vorta
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Re: Why is there no pure Sci-Fi on TV today?

I agree that it's annoying to see so many sci fi shows using the crutch of another genre - usually the cop genre - but that's because there are too many of that particular genre blend. Technically, Pushing Daisies was sci fi (or fantasy) + detective show (+ comedy) but the approach was fresh enough that I didn't mind.

I have no objection to Chuck crossing the spy genre with sci fi. They do it well and it's not like there are ten other shows on the air doing that.

And why did the article discount Lost as pure sci fi? What genre is sci fi a blend with, to create Lost? It's got action-adventure and soapy elements but there's no other genre besides sci fi that I can point to in that show. it's 100% pure sci fi.

Ditto for Heroes. The superhero genre is a subset of sci fi/fantasy, not a separate genre. For that matter, why aren't T:SCC and Dollhouse "pure" sci fi? It would really be stretching things to say Dollhouse is part cop show just because there's an FBI agent character in it.

And there are other sci fi shows on the horizon that aren't part sci fi and part something else - Caprica and V among them. V has some law-enforcement characters but they're only part of the mix. I doubt it's going to be a cop show any more than you can call Caprica a lawyer show just because the lead character happens to be a lawyer.

I don't even care about genre-blending that much. To me, a show is "real" sci fi if the core of the story is about something that's sci fi, and the story could not be told without it. From that perspective, BSG wasn't "real" sci fi. The fact that the Cylons were robots was not a vital part of the story and their robotic natures was never explored much. They could have been other human colonists who were pissed off by their treatment, and the whole story could have been told pretty much as it happened with only cosmetic changes.

By contrast, Lost is fundamentally about a place on Earth where the laws of physics, time, probability and sanity have been altered beyond recognition. Subtract sci fi from the story and you can't tell the story.

Caprica looks like it's going to be real sci fi to a greater extent than BSG ever was because now the robotic and fundamentally alien nature of the Cylons is going to drive the story. It's not going to be about politics, war and survival anymore - it's going to be about the question of what makes a being "human" or valuable, a good old tried and true sci fi theme.

Which is not to say I can't enjoy a show that isn't "real" sci fi. I don't mind the BSG approach but I also like seeing the Lost/Caprica approach - that's the kind of "real" sci fi that isn't done all that often.

Last edited by Temis the Vorta; April 21 2009 at 03:38 AM.
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Old April 21 2009, 03:55 AM   #6
sidious618
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Re: Why is there no pure Sci-Fi on TV today?

What is real sci-fi?
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Old April 21 2009, 04:08 AM   #7
Temis the Vorta
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Re: Why is there no pure Sci-Fi on TV today?

sidious618 wrote: View Post
What is real sci-fi?
Real sci fi is the stuff without wizards, vampires or hobbits. Jedi are marginal at best.

PURE sci fi, tho - I'm not touchin' that one.

And here's an article on Yet Another Frakkin Cop Show Dressed Up As Sci Fi with a no-bones-about-it explanation...

The drama represents a meld between Sci Fi's brand and the most sturdy scripted genre format.
How much clearer could they be? Gotta have sturdy legs to hold up the wobbly sci fi part.
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Old April 21 2009, 04:32 AM   #8
LaxScrutiny
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Re: Why is there no pure Sci-Fi on TV today?

I want a cross over between a sci fi show and Dragnet, where it opens with "The scenes you are about to see are true, but the names have been changed to protect the innocent" and then the characters should all be forehead aliens. The two main characters should be plainclothes detectives from the alien's bureau of investigation.

Supporting characters should be a group of life guards who work at the nearby beach who look great in skimpy bathing suits and help out with investigations.

Sideplots should centre around the alien high school, where crazy humans occasionally appear through a portal and one of the students, a blonde forehead alien who is the chosen one, protects the alien planet by chopping the crazy human's heads off.

There should also be spinoff show about a forehead alien law firm, staring the Shat.
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Old April 21 2009, 04:35 AM   #9
Christopher
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Re: Why is there no pure Sci-Fi on TV today?

FreezeC77 wrote: View Post
Why should there be pure Sci-Fi on TV ever since the person in charge of a network supposedly dedicated to just SCI-FI decided that shows were too "Sci-Fiy" and needed to have more mainstream appeal.
That's a false premise. The SciFi Channel was never dedicated purely to science fiction programming. That's why they called themselves SciFi instead of The Science Fiction Channel -- because it was meant as a brand identifier, not a literal description of content. After all, "sci-fi" is a slang nickname, not the actual name of the science fiction genre. And it's a nickname that tends to be applied quite loosely to encompass fantasy, horror, and the like as well.


Temis the Vorta wrote: View Post
sidious618 wrote: View Post
What is real sci-fi?
Real sci fi is the stuff without wizards, vampires or hobbits. Jedi are marginal at best.

PURE sci fi, tho - I'm not touchin' that one.
Science fiction is literature or drama that postulates an unreal or hypothetical premise derived from scientific theory or extrapolated from technological or social trends and builds a story around the consequences or ramifications of that premise. To be "real" SF, the story should arise directly from the scientific or futurist speculation, should be a story that couldn't exist without it, rather than just a conventional type of story decorated with futuristic or speculative trappings. It isn't strictly necessary that the science be accurate, though the worldbuilding should at least be intelligent and self-consistent.

I don't think it's useful to define "pure" SF -- that's kind of like trying to define a pure race. There's so much intermixing and gradation that "purity" would be an elitist fiction based on arbitrary standards. There's no single "right" way to tell a science fiction story. It doesn't have to involve spaceships or aliens or ray guns. One of the best science fiction movies of the past 20 years is The Truman Show, a movie that most people didn't even perceive as SF but which was a far better illustration of the genre than most space-fantasy or superhero films. It was a story based on an extrapolation from existing technological and social trends, it plausibly examined the consequences of that speculative premise, and it turned out to be strikingly predictive in a number of ways.


There is definitely science fiction on television today. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles is unambiguously SF, with no fantasy elements and a strong grounding in technological futurism. Dollhouse is a pretty solid SF premise as well: it postulates a technological advance and explores its consequences to society, humanity, ethics, etc.
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Old April 21 2009, 04:35 AM   #10
Ryan
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Re: Why is there no pure Sci-Fi on TV today?

Temis the Vorta wrote: View Post
And here's an article on Yet Another Frakkin Cop Show Dressed Up As Sci Fi with a no-bones-about-it explanation...
I don't have a problem with that. What was Bladerunner if not a noir detective story with sci-fi trappings?
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Old April 21 2009, 04:42 AM   #11
Temis the Vorta
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Re: Why is there no pure Sci-Fi on TV today?

Ryan wrote: View Post
Temis the Vorta wrote: View Post
And here's an article on Yet Another Frakkin Cop Show Dressed Up As Sci Fi with a no-bones-about-it explanation...
I don't have a problem with that. What was Bladerunner if not a noir detective story with sci-fi trappings?
Noir + Sci Fi is like Spy + Sci Fi - not overdone and therefore welcome in my book.

The fact that Medium, Ghost Whisperer and Pushing Daisies have premises very similar to Will Smith's proposed series is what annoys me. How about some diversity in premises? Shouldn't sci fi be original?
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Old April 21 2009, 11:18 AM   #12
C.E. Evans
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Re: Why is there no pure Sci-Fi on TV today?

To me, I think outside of science-fiction fans, most others find pure science-fiction to be either silly, confusing, or (as already mentioned) boring.

TV execs probably believe that more audiences would be more receptive to something that was based more in what "everyday people" can relate to with just a touch of sci-fi, IMO...
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Old April 21 2009, 01:39 PM   #13
jefferiestubes8
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Why is there no pure Sci-Fi on TV today?

There are sub-genres .
Just like with the whole 'Reality' genre. The subgenres are:
competition reality (Survivor, Project Runway)
celebrity-based reality (My Life on the D List)
docu-reality (The Hills)

Witch Science Fiction you have:
action-sci-fi (Jumper)
police procedureal-sci fi (Unfinished Business new WIll Smith Show)
horror-sci fi (Event Horizon)
Space Opera (Star Trek TNG, Voyager, Star Wars)

The last real science fiction movie I saw was:
"Primer"
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0390384/
It was shot in 2001 and was released in in the US in 2004. It had a microbudget of $7,000. (estimated).
It is actually a great film and requires multiple viewings.
time-travel saga with heavy math & science.

The science fiction film I am most looking forward to is a time-travel film from Spain that had a small US release last year
'Los cronocrímenes' AKA 'Timecrimes'
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0480669/
It just came out on DVD last month.
It had a low budget of $2.6 million (estimated).
Roger Ebert's review of it brings up 'Primer'.
http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/...901079996/1023

Last great science fiction I saw on TV?
"Masters of Science Fiction" (2007 series) on DVD this winter. It reminded me a lot of "The Outer Limits" 1960s series in the 1 hour format and pacing.
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Old April 21 2009, 01:42 PM   #14
Christopher
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Re: Why is there no pure Sci-Fi on TV today?

Temis the Vorta wrote: View Post
The fact that Medium, Ghost Whisperer and Pushing Daisies have premises very similar to Will Smith's proposed series is what annoys me. How about some diversity in premises? Shouldn't sci fi be original?
Those are all pure fantasy, not science fiction.

And it's a myth that originality requires using a premise that no one has used before. Most speculative fiction, whether SF or fantasy, involves building on prior ideas and exploring new aspects of them. Originality is in what you do with the premise. Certainly Pushing Daisies was wildly original even though it was far from the first "talking to the dead to solve crimes" show.

That said, though, that particular genre has become somewhat overexplored in series television in recent years, and it's unlikely that Mr. Smith's show would have anything like the originality of Daisies.
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Old April 21 2009, 01:49 PM   #15
john titor
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Re: Why is there no pure Sci-Fi on TV today?

Why don't you make sci fi shows yourselves and create internet followings? This is what I intend to do. One day. Perhaps.
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