sf/f TV development news - 2013

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Temis the Vorta, Oct 10, 2011.

  1. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Re: sf/f TV development news - 2012

    No format is going to become totally extinct, but they ebb and flow in how common they are.

    The length of TV episodes has been set for the benefit of advertisers, to give them a nice, compact amount of time around which to schedule ads. The episodic format was the most useful in an environment of mass-market TV, in which there were only three options.

    It was designed to capture channel surfers without demanding much investment of their time or effort. They could see an episode and skip the next week without any penalty. Since there was no internet and no DVDs, and reruns were shown in a hit or miss way, there was no easy way for viewers to catch up with a serialized show anyway, so how could that format ever catch on?

    It's no coincidence that serialized shows became more predominant as the mass audience fragments into niche tastes, where the episodic format makes less sense economically, and as technological changes make following a serialized show much easier.

    The format of TV is contrived, not natural in any sense, and is shaped by economic and technological forces which are now changing. So the predominant format will change as well. None of this is some natural outgrowth of what people like or what is "good." It's all about what's good for advertisers, and what's going to allow TV to survive as technological changes start to really undermine the old ways of doing business, which is a process that is happening now.

    Envision a world in which all "TV" shows are streamed from sites like Netflix or Hulu. Why should an episode be an hour long? Why not ten minutes long or ten hours long? Why should there be one episode per week? And the degree to which one episode connects to another could vary just as radically - why not have no connection (the return of the virtually extinct anthology format)?

    Or the connection can be weak, or very strong - though for the sake of keeping niche audiences coming back, I'd say the stronger the connection, the better. And maybe the anthology format is also a niche taste, that's not being served. That would argue in favor of the revival of that format. Above all, the trend is towards greater diversity rather than the extinction of any particular format.

    That's an unimportant quibble. There's a continuum from very episodic to very serialized shows that really does exist. TV used to be highly episodic and is a lot less so now. Why? Because the business and technology has changed and has shaped the tastes of the audience.

    Viewers haven't driven this change, they've been led into it, as HBO and other pioneers started giving them more options - and that was because of technology that allowed HBO to exist, and then to build a business to take advantage of that technology. This process is going to continue into the future and just as its favored more serialization in the past, it will continue to favor it in the future, along with a greater broadening of options in general (such as the possible return of the anthology format - now there's an episodic structure!)

    Yeah, that's pretty much what I've been saying - maybe the serialization isn't causing the increase in quality of the more serialized shows over the more episodic ones, but there's something that's causing this phenomenon and it's not my imagination.

    Maybe it's that cable attracts better writers and cable also demands serialized shows, so all the best writers happen to be working on serialized shows. If they worked on the more episodic shows, then those would be better. Or writers like serialized shows better, because of the greater creative freedom, so if they can get hired onto one, they'll jump at the chance. Since the best writers get their pick of gigs, then that would explain it. Or it could be something else. Doesn't really matter why it's happening, but it's happening.
    Party pooper! I so love any excuse to inflict mega-posts on yall. :p

    And just to be fair to the episodic format, this show sounds at least partially episodic and also pretty interesting (depending on casting, and assuming, perhaps rashly, that it doesn't become some kind of Future Guy-esque muddle):

     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2012
  2. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Re: sf/f TV development news - 2012

    Okay I just noticed something very odd about that Dover Agenda news...Skiffy already greenlighted it a month ago! Or something called Rewind that sure sounds like it, except that the people behind it are totally different, and there's no mention of a guy using time travel to recruit himself.

    Is Skiffy deliberately pitting two very similar sounding premises against each other? (They should air both 90-min pilots and let the audience vote on which should go to series!)

    And considering the way time travel shows either get cancelled or go off the rails or go off the rails and then get cancelled, they're showing some guts in not just greenlighting Blood & Chrome instead. Cmon, fighting killer robots, that's easy! (I guess by this point it's a dead daggit.)
     
  3. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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  4. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: 'Darkover' novels to become TV series

    Well, I certainly haven't read them all. Like most open-ended series, the storylines twisted, the covert narcissism in the character arcs became more and more overt and the themes, such as they were, got completely lost.

    Basically it started off with the people of Darkover, who eschewed cowardly long distance weapons in favor of noble and brave hand to hand combat, had developed a society with a noble elite of tepaths etc. The people aren't aliens but a lost colony of Earth by the way. The society had somehow fallen into decay, despite the reality of seemingly magical powers, and was threatened by the inhumane scientific abortion of a culture being forced onto the innocent peoples of Darkover by an arrogant Terran power blind to the true powers of the mind.

    Yes, yes, it's all demented but it was at least sincere and at least about something besides cheap thrills of a Leigh Brack/C.L. Moore variety. The women who constantly wore chains connecting their ankles were if I recall perhaps the most notable instance of some of the real appeal of the early series. Bradley apparently was a serious New Ager who really believed this shit, as well as being a little adventurous sexually. I gather for instance she had an open marriage with a gay man, Jon L. Breen, a major figure in the mystery field (albeit mainly as reviewer and anthologist.) No doubt this is an aspect very attractive to the producers who correctly see skin and S&M as a major part of Game of Thrones' popularity.

    Later the series veered off into more and more tedious intrigue amongst the magical nobles, delving more and more into backstory. I can't say there was anything particularly sincere and substantive beyond wish fulfilment fantasy.



    Re serialized and episodic television, it is crazy to insist that technological factors are responsible for the vogue for serialization. In particular, soap operas were a mainstay of broadcast television for decades, yet the same supposed technological and economic causes promoting serialization in prime time are killing off daytime serials.

    Serialization has nothing to do with art, except to make it much harder to make good drama. It exists solely to hook an audience and keep them coming back. Serialization was used in daytime because there was a smaller audience. Housewives had work to do. They had to have a hook to get them to schedule the vacuuming for another time.

    Premium cable tends to use serialization because they have smaller audiences and are trying to get a core of viewers who'll pony up the premium. There really isn't any percentage in episodic television because, after all, few people will pay monthly premiums for an occasional episode. Premium cable series are not offering a superior dramatic format. Most premium cable series collapse as dramatically as Dexter precisely because of the open-ended serialization is fundamentally incompatible with quality drama. The cable series do not even offer more imaginative or artistically original fare. The cable series simply offer racier fare that advertisers are still afraid of. Sex and gore are the only things that cable does better, and claims to the contrary are delusional.

    Basic cable of course tends to avoid serialization because serials are usually inferior, having less to offer once you know how the story comes out. Which is naturally less popular. Broadcast networks tend to use serialization more today because they are struggling to retain share in a dwindling audience. There is a genuine tendency for serialization to work better in DVD format but there is still formidable competition for serialized programs even there from episodic television. The very worst offenders in episodic television, series from the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies also sell in DVD. And of course, these are often the mainstays of basic cable. The perception that serialization is taking over is an optical illusion caused by an excessively narrow focus.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2012
  5. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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    Re: sf/f TV development news - 2012

    As for the whole serialized vs. episodic debate, I really have no preference, and honestly don't give a crap what a shows format is. All I want is a good story, and TBH I've never really seen where one format is better at giving us good stories than the other. It all depends on the stories and characters for me.
     
  6. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Re: sf/f TV development news - 2012

    From what I can tell of the genre shows that have gone to pilot, most of them don't have an episodic angle - which generally reveals itself by having a cop as the main character and a premise that lends itself to a case-of-the-week structure. That, however, is absolutely no guarantee that any of them will be good. :rommie:

    In the sf/f genre world, the big ratings successes lately have been strongly serialized - The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, American Horror Story, Once Upon a Time - and I think that's starting to have an impact on genre shows as a whole. But the episodic format will be retained for all the cop/spy/doctor/lawyer shows which of course will be joining us again next season, and which I will continue to blissfully ignore.
     
  7. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    Re: sf/f TV development news - 2012

    Exactly. Fashion is different now than it was 40 years ago, and will be different again 40 years from now.

    That's a good vision. The arts should be driven more by creativity than the demands of advertisers.

    Yeah, that's exactly how I feel.
     
  8. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: sf/f TV development news - 2012

    Episodic versus serialized is irrelevant because there's no evidence that one is better at good stories and characters than the other?

    Sneaking around detailed discussions of good for the moment, on the one side, episodic SF/F television has Star Trek, Twilight Zone and Outer Limits. And serialized SF/F has train wrecks like X-Files, Lost, BattleStar Galactica and DS9's Sisko in the fire caves and Red Eye Dukat. Well, it also has Babylon 5, but then, it is also widely hated as well as loved. It seems to me that it is precisely a concern with good stories and characters that would lead one to conclude that serialization, especially open-ended serialization (which would leave out Babylon 5, by the way,) is inherently inferior. Not impossible. And there are no rules in drama that can't be profitably broken by someone sufficiently creative enough.

    But returning to the question of what is a good story and character, it may be that social decay is leaving people disengaged from the world. They have less and less power over their fates and at some level they must realize that the future is not theirs, nor their posterity's, but that of their masters. It is natural for the weak to take refuge in fantasy, particularly personal fantasy. The open-ended serial very much tends to indulge in the central characters' personal stories, even to the point that there isn't really much else in the fictional universe besides a few talking props. The much vaunted character arcs substitute fantasies of personal reinvention leading to success, love, fame, power, while the social vacuum allows such daydreams undiminished by the harsh light of reality.

    These kinds of dramas are inherently limited to personal tastes and there's nothing to say about them, for there's nothing really there. Nothing, that is, save frustrations at not having the proper day dream material suitable to one's personal idiosyncrasies.
     
  9. Caliburn24

    Caliburn24 Commodore Commodore

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    Re: sf/f TV development news - 2012

    Hmm television serialization tied into the old idea of "Bread and Circuses". An interesting notion. Where would Western culture be without so many of us spending hours every week involved in TV shows, video games, Facebook, Reddit etc?

    I have only seen bits and pieces of a few foreign(Non-English) shows, but serialization seems quite heavy in what I have seen. The various Spanish language telenovelas, the Korean soaps. We're certainly not alone in wanting escapism in our entertainment.
     
  10. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: sf/f TV development news - 2012

    Strictly it's not bread and circuses, because the powers that be aren't into giving out bread, just circuses. Besides, in addition to the question of how much serialization has really increased overall, there's the question of how much escapism is just normal rest? Worse, alternative question is whether the apparent huge increase in villainous heroes expresses a newly unashamed imperialist ethos? That may be a more useful question.

    One thing about escapism is that it depends on what's entertaining. I once read some remarks by some fool about how reading modern arty literature was like solving a crossword puzzle. (Robert Heinlein? I forget for sure.) Since no one ever did a crossword puzzle for anything but entertainment, this was a remarkably stupid complaint. Entertainment includes things like being dropped from great heights in a roller coaster. And it is very likely that nothing has ever topped the entertainment value of sex. The "it's just entertainment" argument is a sure symptom of thoughtlessness.
     
  11. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Re: sf/f TV development news - 2012

    I don't think of changes that are driven by economics and technology as being "fashion," which I associate more with the efforts of individual artists - more idiosyncratic than what's happening in TV, which is driven by rational and impersonal factors.

    High fashion in the clothing industry is not driven by technology and it operates in defiance of economics, with clothes being displayed on catwalks that no human would ever want to wear in public. A few individual designers have an outsized impact on high fashion, and they deliberately orchestrate changes from one season to the next in order to create demand. That's "fashion," but that's not very parallel to anything going on in the TV business.

    But at this point, we're just quibbling over semantics. If you want to define "fashion" as any sort of change over time, whatever the cause, then fine - that's defining the term so broadly as to sap it of any meaning.

    And if there are future trends in the offing that will make TV do a 180 back towards the episodic structure, I can't envision it. The long term trend will be towards more individualization - YouTube is the future. Serialization vs episodic structure will become a moot point in a world of piano playing cats.

    Well, it will be a mixed bag. The best way to envision the future of internet video (post-TV) is to look at how Facebook games pay for themselves. There are three methods: subscription, ads and "virtual goods" (stuff you buy within the game, usually for pennies).

    Subscriptions are a minor part of the whole because people on the internet resist paying for anything, at least not directly; when they do pay, it's in dribs and drabs (virtual goods). Even stuff you subscribe to is still likely to have ads, just less onerous ads.

    So you'll have some stuff which is more artistic and personalized for a smaller niche market, and for that you might have to pay a subscription. Or, there will be more commercial stuff, with more ads.

    And there will be the highly commercial and manipulative segment, which is free to start with, but where the "art" is calculated to get you to keep paying for virtual goods, because it's necessary to the entertainment experience. I also expect more of a return to the soap opera model of corporations directly funding entertainment and getting their stamp all over it, so that you can't avoid the advertising because it's everywhere, maybe just not obvious.

    Escapism is a different idea from serialization vs episodic structure. A show can have any structure and still be escapist, or it can be profound and meaningful. And yeah, serialized shows are very common all over the world. In America, the episodic structure was more useful to the old model of three networks/no rewatch ability/need to capture channel-surfers.

    Maybe in other countries, that system didn't predominate, so the episodic structure never caught on. In any case, technology and business factors are changing so that new competitors are emerging where the episodic structure simply isn't needed as much. Why continue something when the original rationale is vanishing?
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2012
  12. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    Re: sf/f TV development news - 2012

    I think it's more an artifact of the increasing pose of faux cynicism that came upon us in the Reagan Era.

    Fashion is driven by many factors, including economics and technology. Cheap gas spurred the car culture of the 50s. The Internet spurred almost infinite new fashions.

    No, because that's exactly what fashion is. The "high fashion" definition is meaningless because it's not part of popular culture; nobody, as you said, wears those designs. Fashion is defined by peg pants or bellbottoms, thin ties or wide ties, long hair or mohawks. Things that happen in the real world.

    I never said anything will do a 180. I said it will be different.
     
  13. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: sf/f TV development news - 2012

    Opera and ballet are escapism if that's what entertains you. Many, many serials intensely focus on plastic characters who keep changing in a way utterly unlike real people (especially the ones who change back so they can relive a particularly satsifying fantasy) against an unchanging, indeed unchangeable "world" that is barely there. Is there an increase in this kind of serialization? And could it be a result of diminished hope in real lives, so that more and more people no longer find escape in other kinds of stories?

    As to foreign television, I don't think telenovelas are open-ended serialization. By our standards they would be single season series. It does seem to me that many foreign television systems have much shorter series, and open ended serialization is really rather rare, even though closed ended serialization does seem to be quite common.

    I wonder if that isn't really due simply to being too small a market to support costly long term series? US style long seasons once included 39 episodes and summer reruns included only some of the best episodes. Production schedules like this are grueling, expensive, not conducive to high quality, none of which is likely to make governments pony up the money for a noncommercial television channel.

    Korea's long tradition of dictatorship probably has something to do with TV favoring soaps. Isn't the main producer of telenovelas Colombia, also for decades an extremely repressive government? TV isn't just entertainment, it's news (propaganda, whether you will or no, even if it's white propaganda,) and politics and governments make sure the TV system is working properly. By their standards, that is.
     
  14. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Re: sf/f TV development news - 2012

    Midnight Sun just went from questionable Lost wannabee to must-see! :eek:

    Titus Welliver to star in Midnight Sun.

    I'm considerably less enthused about this, but I suppose I should report it:

    Incredibles, the TV series, at FOX?
     
  15. Enterprise is Great

    Enterprise is Great Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: sf/f TV development news - 2012

    Sounds like a perfect role for him.
     
  16. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Re: sf/f TV development news - 2012

    Both he and Terry O'Quinn have great roles this coming season. I figure O'Quinn must be playing Satan on 666 Park Avenue. :D

    Now we just need to get Josh Holloway a job. Secretly-bitter android gigolo plotting rebellion on Beautiful People? Ruthless survivalist redneck on Revolution?
     
  17. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Re: sf/f TV development news - 2012

    Dichen Lachman joins The Last Resort.

     
  18. Enterprise is Great

    Enterprise is Great Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: sf/f TV development news - 2012

    Chris Egan cast in ABC’s drama pilot Beauty And The Beast


     
  19. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Re: sf/f TV development news - 2012

    Good for him! He was all wrong for Poe, but a heroic fairy-tale knight role should suit him pretty well.
     
  20. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Re: sf/f TV development news - 2012

    More Midnight Sun casting news.

    Whoah! Cult on the CW just became a must-see...

    The same story introduces our faux-Katniss...

    The guy who directed the awesome Lost pilot has been hired for SyFy's Rewind.

    Lucy Punch has been cast in a series...does this mean Powers is sunk, or are they recasting her role? :(

    Plus more 666 Park Ave casting and the lead role cast for the Jeckle/Hyde medical drama Do No Harm.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2012

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