Modern sci-fi vs classic sci-fi shows

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Dave Scarpa, May 16, 2018.

  1. Dave Scarpa

    Dave Scarpa Commander Red Shirt

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    The problem I have with most new sci fi shows is basically with characters. I’m getting ready to drop westworld this week because I just don’t care about any of the characters. And while I’m not ready to drop The Expanse yet, I have a similar issue, not only characters I really don’t get invested in, I can’t even name them after 3 seasons , above common references like engineer dude, politician dude, marine girl. Sci fi like Babylon five I knew the characters names from the pilot, and whether I was invested in them after a few episodes. I watched the DS9 episode The wire last night and even secondary characters like Garak were so well defined.

    What has hsppened with characters I care about
     
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  2. thribs

    thribs Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I was liking Hopkins character. Has he left the show? That’s a bummer.
     
  3. Dave Scarpa

    Dave Scarpa Commander Red Shirt

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    Yeah maybe Ed Harris character was interesting but not enough to get me to stick around. On Expanse the only relatable character was the Thomas Jane detective character and they killed him off
     
  4. Spider

    Spider Dirty Old Man Premium Member

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    Modern scifi/fantasy/horror TV shows are soap operas from the start. Episodic TV, as in older shows, is gone in modern genre TV. Other than that, and of course better special effects, I don't see much difference. There isn't a show where I don't think at least one and possibly two characters need to die quickly just to get them off my TV, which is an inherent problem with soap operas. But you can find those types in older shows as well.

    But as to the whole, the ratio of genre TV that I like as opposed to that I don't, really hasn't changed much over the years. Way over half of all genre TV that I have access to I won't watch, which isn't a lot different (for me anyways) than 40 years ago.
     
  5. Gore-ac

    Gore-ac Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I find this inability to remember character names in new TV intriguing, perhaps it's not the quality of TV writing that's dropped off, but the attention span of the viewers, do you find yourself getting distracted by the internet when watching tv now more than you did 20 years ago?
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2018
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  6. The Return of Zombie Cheerleader

    The Return of Zombie Cheerleader Moar Nu Trek Pleeze Premium Member

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    Babylon 5 is classic Sc-Fi? Damn,I'm old.
     
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  7. Grendelsbayne

    Grendelsbayne Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I think it's a lot to do with ever expanding scope and ensemble. Game of Thrones, for instance, introduces you to dozens of characters (usually with weird unpronounceable names) and then you might see many of those characters in one scene per episode, or you might see them even less than that. And that's not because they're unimportant secondary characters, either - many of them are actually very important to the plot, it's just that there are tons of plot points all being juggled at the same time. GoT is probably the worst example of this, but I see similar problems in many, many modern shows and the only ones that seem to escape it are the ones that deliberately limit the size of their cast.
     
  8. Kirk the Jerk

    Kirk the Jerk Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I find this to be true with most movies and tv shows nowadays, there’s not much character building, we’re expected to know and like them from the offset. There’s also not much of a story. It’s just explosions, overly dark sets and more explosions.

    I was pleasantly surprised by Lost in Space on Netflix, however. Very good Sci-Fi IMO.
     
  9. faye valentfine

    faye valentfine Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I think the trend is the exact opposite.
    In the olden days the characters usually stayed the same because the episodes were self contained and there wasn't much continuity between them, while today's TV is much more prone to doing character arcs spanning episodes, even seasons...
     
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  10. Roko's Basilisk

    Roko's Basilisk Admiral Admiral

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    Contemporary, serialised TV shows require that you pay close attention and watch every episode. It can be kind of a demanding chore if you're really looking for relaxation. I've stopped watching several series recently because I didn't feel the payoff was worth the time I'd invested or I found it difficult to empathise with the protagonists.
     
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  11. Sad Kelpian Child

    Sad Kelpian Child Admiral Admiral

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    I don't think that's a problem with 'New scifi' compared to old scifi, I think it's a few particular shows you brought up. Stranger Things is extremely character driven.

    And I disagree about Westworld, I'm pretty invested in characters like Maeve, Bernard, Elsie, Felix.
     
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  12. Jadis

    Jadis Queen of Narnia Premium Member

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    I tried to watch Westworld but I totally couldn't get past episode 1, I just couldn't buy into any characters, and I thought a lot of things that were supposed to be really dramatic and scary were to me really silly. I feel Humans is a much more enjoyable and interesting current show about developing android sentience.

    I don't like science fiction series that have long seasons, I find they get too silly. Like shows that are more like mini-series are so much more enjoyable, like Stranger Things, or right now I'm watching Lost in Space, but that's just like 10 episodes. My sister was really into The Walking Dead, and I thought season 1 was interesting, but season 2 was so deeply boring I just couldn't bear it, like nothing was happening and they just stretched stuff out too long.

    lol I also think of Babylon 5 as classic science fiction now, I guess I'm just too young? But Babylon 5 was like the first science fiction show I remember watching where you had a story well planned out that you followed episode to episode, rather than completely unrelated mini adventures. You could see like a real planned story arc that was satisfying to see, and how things early played an important part later and was all like pieces of foundation being laid out. Now it's like everyone is trying to do that, and most just come off as geeky soap-operas or something.

    My feeling is the biggest problem with modern science fiction is you see this weird obsession that "dark/gritty = awesome" and I feel it's just oh so BORING. Like just making things grim for the sake of grimness isn't interesting, it's just depressing. Sometimes shows pull it off well like Game of Thrones, but it's exciting with lots of highs and hope and bright spots, you just see terrible things happen from ruthless people doing ruthless things. So much of the time it's like shows think you need to have poor lighting and everyone has to look miserable all the time, and you've got to have these long drawn out sequences of people frowning at the camera while music is playing to induce a feeling of peril.
     
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  13. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Babylon 5 ended two decades ago, in 1998. That probably counts as "classic" these days.
     
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  14. USS Firefly

    USS Firefly Commodore Commodore

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    Now I feel really old
     
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  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Not entirely. Last season, Lucifer got an extra 4 episodes added to its season order by FOX, and rather than extending their story arc for season 2, they shot 4 standalone episodes and peppered them through season 3. At least, they were standalone in the sense you had in '80s or '90s shows, where they followed up on previously established character continuity and backstory but told one-in-done installments that weren't part of advancing an ongoing serial arc. Two were sidebar episodes centered on supporting characters, the other two were flashback episodes filling in new backstory. It was pretty interesting and satisfying to see the return of that kind of storytelling, episodes that worked as complete tales in themselves rather than just chapters. They shot two more of those to save for season 4, but with the show's cancellation, it's unclear when or whether they'll be released. But I'm hoping they might presage a bit of a pendulum swing back toward that kind of '90s-era balance between episodic storytelling and character continuity.


    It's different for me. When I was young, genre TV was so rare that I ate up everything I could find. These days, it's so abundnant that I probably watch rather less than half of what's out there.


    I haven't seen Westworld so I can't compare them, but Humans is definitely a heck of a good show in its own right. I wish we could get the uncut versions here in the US, though.


    Yeah, Babylon 5 gets overlooked these days, but it pretty much pioneered the now-ubiquitous model of having each season be a distinct, unified story arc. Although the other pioneer for the modern model was probably Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which introduced the formula of having a distinct archvillain for each season (and coined the term "big bad" for them).


    Yeah, that has gone too far. It was impressive when shows first started doing it because it was daring and different, but now it's just going along with the crowd.
     
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  16. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I've only made to Season 5, but True Blood got really bad about this in the later years. It had a big cast, and every single character got their own separate story arc, and after a while it just ended up being way to many stories going at once.
    I have to disagree, I think we actually get a lot more story now, it's just that it's one arc spread throughout the either the whole season or a specific part of the season rather than one and done standalone stories like the old shows used to do.
    The character development is there too, but it just tends to be spread out in smaller bits and pieces throughout the story arcs instead of devoting whole episodes to the characters like some of the old shows used to.
    While there are a lot of shows that did exclusively or mostly standalones that I love, if given the choice I much prefer longer arcs. They just allow the story and the characters to go a lot deeper, and get more complex. I will admit that sometimes that complexity can get out of hand, but when done well it can lead to some great stuff.
     
  17. Galileo7

    Galileo7 Commodore Commodore

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    Lost In Space (2018- ) Netflix vs. Lost In Space (1965-1968) CBS. Both work.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    The thing is, it's not an either-or choice. What most shows in the '80s and '90s did was to have standalone plots but more serialized character arcs. For instance, Star Trek: TNG had a whole series of episodes advancing Worf's relationship with the Klingon High Council, but it was like one episode per year rather than a continuing plotline. Ditto for something like DS9's arc of Sisko coming to terms with being the Emissary, or VGR's developing romance between Paris and Torres. The problem with too many shows today is that they prioritize serial plots rather than serial character arcs. The emphasis is on setting up the next plot twist or startling development, and that's often used as a substitute for actually saying anything.
     
  19. crookeddy

    crookeddy Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    What's a genre show that had a lot of explosions?
     
  20. Jadis

    Jadis Queen of Narnia Premium Member

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    I get bothered most when instead of resolving a story plotline, they just create a new crazy twist where the ending should be so it can get dragged out for another season, it feels like never ending string of cheap tricks to keep you coming back. I feel different when it's something that's been building to for a while, like the Red Wedding or something, but a lot of shows seem like they don't know what to do and don't have real new directions, so something crazy happens instead.