Sci-Fi or Action?

Discussion in 'Star Trek - Original Series' started by Praetor Baldric, May 23, 2013.

  1. Praetor Baldric

    Praetor Baldric Lieutenant Commander

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    I recently watched the redlettermedia critique of Abrams first Trek film; the gist of which was that the movie was basically an action film disguised as TOS.

    This reminded me of a television appearance of Ellison and members of the original cast during which Ellison says that TOS was basically a cop show in outer space. I take from this that he viewed TOS as not really being a sci-fi show so much as an action TV show disguised as sci-fi.

    I sometimes wonder if he wasn't right about this. With the exception of some of the Season 1 eps, it does seem that TOS for the most part was not really a sci-fi show.

    Some eps at random:

    Balance of Terror = sci-fi or suspenseful western showdown in space? (I once heard that it was based on the story of two subs during WWII).

    Enterprise Incident = sci-fi or Mission Impossible in space?

    Charlie X = sci-fi or Twilight Zone's It's a Good Life in space?

    Whaddya think?
     
  2. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    One can have action in a science fiction film. One can have espionage and political intrigue in a science fiction film. Neither of these elements (or countless others) being present negates a film being in the science fiction genre. A lot of SF film are action heavy. The tropes of the Western can be easily transferred to Science Fiction. The same for the Military or Horror genre. Science Fiction is often a setting not a plot.

    Cop show doesn't equal "action" show. Dragnet being a prime example. Columbo being another.
     
  3. Third Nacelle

    Third Nacelle Captain Captain

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    Except for maybe some 50s B-movies, I can't really think of anything that is pure science fiction. I agree the Nerys Myk that Sci Fi is really more of a setting for for the story rather than the genre of the story. TOS (and all its spinoffs) tended to jump around from genre to genre, and I can see that a good number of episodes feel like "cop show" procedurals. A lot of episodic television does that.

    I agree that the Abrams movies are really action heavy, but none of the movies have ever been good at representing the series. That's just the nature of taking something built for the small screen and putting on the big screen.
     
  4. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    So, 2001: A Space Odyssey is not pure science fiction? Ditto, Logan's Run? Star Trek: The Motion Picture? The Andromeda Strain? Just to pick some obvious examples outside the 1950's, that is.

    :confused:
     
  5. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    From the original 1964 Star Trek pitch -

    "Action - Adventure - Science fiction."

    More of the former two and less of the latter. With more emphasis on the characters than the technology at least in the original show, classic movies and newest ones). After all, we are talking about a world where aliens look human apart from goofy ears or antennae or skin colouration, where magical translating technology instantly renders everyone's speech in English (their lips are even sync'd to it, and there's no overlap), and where different aliens can interbreed. It's no more realistic than Superman - which also featured time travel via spinning around something really fast, and somehow spitting the hero into good and evil halves which then did battle.
     
  6. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    I think "Balance of Terror" is more based on the book/film "Run Silent, Run Deep". With the Enterprise playing the role of a destroyer and the Romulan BoP the submarine.
     
  7. Gov Kodos

    Gov Kodos Admiral Admiral

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    More 'Enemy Below' where the protagonist is an American destroyer hunting a German sub.
     
  8. Marsden

    Marsden Commodore Commodore

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    I like your post and I've always felt Star Trek had a real adventure feel to it with dramatic elements, but the spin offs were dramas with some themes of adventure in the background.

    Why is it an 'or' ? Isn't Twilight Zone Science Fiction? Maybe I'm not good with the term

    Balance of Terror, for example, involves two starships using phaser and plasma torpedo weapons and and invisiblity cloak, plus bases built on asteroids and a mostly human Starfleet in the future vs. aliens in deep space far away from Earth. How is that not Science Fiction?
     
  9. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    You're probably right, it's been a number of years since I've seen either film. So perhaps I got the two confused.
     
  10. Ssosmcin

    Ssosmcin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Depends on the episode. Although the series is generally accepted as "science fiction," there are many which aren't. The series should probably be categorized as "fantasy." "It's a Good Life" has no sci-fi in it, it has a kid with natural powers. It's horror/fantasy.

    The details are sci-fi, but the general plot can be and was used as a general warfare plot on Earth in almost any era. It's not a sci-fi story, it's a story used in a sci-fi milieu.
     
  11. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    One of the cool things about TOS was that its format was broad enough to incorporate lots of different kinds of stories: war stories, spy stories, horror-suspense, courtroom dramas, murder mysteries, action, topical allegories, even broad comedy and farce . . . all in a futuristic sci-fi setting.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2013
  12. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    True, whilst the setting might be Sci-Fi you can tell many different types of story.
     
  13. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    Definitely The Enemy Below. It's been stated plainly at some point.
     
  14. Marsden

    Marsden Commodore Commodore

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    I think I'm still having trouble distinguishing the difference of what you said. I understand what you seem to be saying but the distinction of it seems blurry. Could you give me a few examples, for clarification? If you want to, of course.

    I'll try a few.

    Event Horizon, would be Horror instead of Science Fiction, or both possbily? (maybe I was the only one that saw that)

    2001 would sound like it's got to be Science Fiction, but but is it really just a Mystery within a sci-fi milieu?

    Galaxy Quest is a comedy, but it has (in story) real aliens and space ships, is it a Science Fiction movie as well?

    Invasion of the Body Snatchers is probably a horror movie within a sci-fi milieu.

    As far as concepts go, is mental powers (telepathy, telekinesis) a science fiction concept or a fantasy concept, or both, or something else entirely?

    I like this kind of discussion, and I know opinions vary. I hope someone else will have some more examples.
     
  15. BillJ

    BillJ Admiral Admiral

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    This.

    It's probably why we're still talking about Trek fifty years later. :techman:
     
  16. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Both. No reason why it can't be. Frankenstein is both as well. Dracula on the other hand is Fantasy Horror.

    [
    Science Fiction Mystery sounds about right. Caves of Steel is one too, using slightly more "traditional" elements.

    Yeah, Science Fiction Comedy. As is Spaceballs. Which is also a specific style of comedy, parody.

    Science Fiction Horror. TOS uses a similar plot in "This Side of Paradise".

    Both. If Doctor Strange reads your mind it Fantasy. If Professor X reads your mind it's Science Fiction.
     
  17. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Science fiction and horror have been joined at the hip since Frankenstein at least.. Just look at H. G. Wells, Alien . . . or H. P. Lovecraft, whose tales of "cosmic horror" were published in both Weird Tales and Amazing Stories.
     
  18. BennieGamali

    BennieGamali Commander Red Shirt

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    Social science is also science. I don't think sci-fi has to do with technology or biology all the time. In TOS there is a lot of culture stuff, there are a lot of philosophical issues taken up. There are also ALOT of ethical issues being poked at. The show often seemed to me to want to provoke people by speaking of how violent and savage and simple human beings are. If ST isn't sci-fi I am sure the same could be said of all sci-fi series. B5 could be called a series about politics and war in space.

    My point is, you have to know how you define the term sci-fi first. Does sci-fi only entail robots, clones and space ships? Or do aliens, space travel and social science enter into it? IMO Social science seems to be a major thing in all sci-fi works, and social science plays a huge part in TOS.
     
  19. scotpens

    scotpens Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Some original Twilight Zone episodes -- "Where Is Everybody?," "The Silence," "The Shelter" -- have no sci-fi or fantasy at all. They're best described as offbeat drama.

    Which, of course, was a key element of Gene Roddeberry's concept right from the beginning.
     
  20. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Interesting, as TOS was an action series disguised as TOS.

    It's a transparent lift from "It's A Good Life," whether the TZ script or Bixby's original short story.
     

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