First: Battlestar Galactica (the 2004-09 remake) has to be the best show of the century so far. I know, you thought I was going to say it was Viva Laughlin. That was the best show of the Millenium!
But seriously, strike the sing-song, so-so ending BSG had due to Ronald D. Moore’s sudden love of giant mysteries and Bob Dillon (as opposed to character-driven stories) in the big season three reveal, and you have a science fiction work of art that diverges so far from the original material, you might as well call it something else. I’m thinking “Battlecar Orgasmatica,” but when am I not? As the final notes of Bear McCreary’s Dillon-tribute, “All Along the Watchtower” faded and the end-credits wrapped, TV-land was left with very few options for good sci-fi. If you could even call it that.
Skip to 1:12. This song still makes me want to shoot a Cylon in the face. Love it.
To illustrate, here are the first five “sci-fi” series since 2009 that pop into my head: Chuck, Terminator: Sarah Conner Chronicles, Kings, Fringe and Dollhouse. Fringe is the only show that can lay claim to a spot on the Fall 2012 schedule and it’s only going to be 13 wrap up episodes to keep me from doing something insane with outrage.
Chuck was barely sci-fi, and mostly terrible. Yet I watched the entire first season due to unemployment. Terminator had its moments, but sort of forgot what it was supposed to be doing mid-second season and was terminated. Kings was kinda cool, I gotta give it to NBC on this one. I adore Ian McShane. I would have stuck around for another season or two of that.
Dollhouse made it to the ripe age of 27 episodes, but only held my interest for two of them. I’m formulating an idea here.
These shows, save the one that is still on the air, were small-idea Sci-Fi. Their scope was limited to the predicament of whatever zany phenomena or interpersonal conflict that was in the script for the week. Sure, there was a big idea behind every one of them, but who cares, it never attempted development of said idea! It was all: “Chuck’s gonna wear a tuxedo, learn Kung Fu from a computer AND get promoted to Best Buy manager! Tune in!”
Fringe on the other hand managed to weave the characters into a big idea that was given legs and developed over several seasons. The characters literally walk to other realities like it’s nothing, explore theories of “self” and consciousness through interaction with parallel universe dopplegangers and manages to present a love story that I can care about.
Battlestar Galactica proposed an entire mythos that ties directly into humanity’s origin story and did it well…with robots…in SPACE!. Now THAT’S some quality sci-fi!
At best, I think the Sci-Fi genre needs to seek answers to the big questions, and not get too bogged down with fantasy/supernatural as well as offer predictions of what life’s going to be like in the future, or what it could be.
Anything less should be cancelled, or left in a Hollywood notebook.
Now that Fringe is 13 hours away from completion sometime in 2013, what will be the next big-idea Sci-Fi show? Is it Falling Sky? I have the entire first season, but I’ve never made it through an episode without nodding out (admittedly, I’ve been watching them just before bed, so it’s not boredom zonking me out…I think.)
Maybe Incursion. There’s not much to say about this series other than what Variety released on Wednesday:
“Incursion” comes as part of Starz’s overall deal with “Spartacus” creator Steven S. DeKnight. Project, which is a sci-fi action-thriller that centers around soldiers battling an alien race on exotic planets, comes after the announcement that “Spartacus” will be shuttered following its upcoming third season. Decision to end the show was made by the pay cabler in tandem with DeKnight.