Saturday, March 28, 2009

Dear Battlestar, I miss you

After ten weeks of doing consecutive, mostly-on-time Battlestar Galactica comment threads... I feel a bit bereft this week.

The show is over, sure. I know there's Caprica and The Plan coming sometime this year. Entertainment Weekly occasionally does blog posts on rumors of an actual theatrical movie release.

But seriously? What good sci-fi is on TV now? There's Kings, which isn't half-bad, but is admittedly sort of soapy (although I don't mind it). There's Dollhouse, which I'm told is getting better, but I'm about three episodes behind and I'm mostly watching because Helo is adorable and Victor is part of the Dollhouse.

Someday, we're going to get George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire on HBO, and that will be the time when I subscribe to it again (I haven't had an HBO subscription since Sex and the City went off the air).

But in the meantime, what should I be watching?

And on a more general note--why is it so hard to make good speculative fiction TV shows? Part of it is budget-reasons, that I get. But part of it has to be that something is not working for the general viewing public....


Laura said...

My vote's for the award-winning Doctor Who!!! I love that show. :-)

P. Bradley Robb said...

It's hard to get SpecFic on TV for the same reason it's easier to market as a book - it's generally accepted as a niche product. This means SpecFic has a harder time getting a budget and fighting for space in a competitive lineup.

Yes, there have certainly been standouts like BSG and the X-Files, both of which managed to land in the public zeitgeist, but at the same time you have the Terry Brooks-inspired Legend of the Seeker. Without a Battlestar budget and quality writing, it's just a Xena knockoff which takes itself too seriously.

I've been keeping myself occupied with The Wire, which I had falsely assumed would be a procedural drama akin to a grittier Law and Order. It turned out to be some of the smartest storytelling I've ever seen on screen. Every character in that entire series was a distinct moral shade of gray, and by the end of season 5, all of the loose ends had been tied up.

Jenny Rae Rappaport said...

Laura, I've seen Doctor Who, and I like it... but it just doesn't do it for me, if that makes any sense.

Kristin Laughtin said...

P. Bradley Robb summed it up pretty well. Speculative fiction is regarded as a niche market, one often deemed unprofitable in advance, so few want to take a chance to make such a show without watering it down too much.

Other show recommendations I haven't seen mentioned:
-I still like Lost. It kind of went on shaky ground around season 3, but picked up in season 4 and the science fiction aspects are really making themselves known now.

-I also enjoy Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, although there have been rumors that it might be canceled after this season.

I've heard news that ABC will air a remake of V next season, though of course it's hard to tell how good it will be in advance.

On a note mentioned in your post, I absolutely cannot wait for ASOIAF, even if it's likely to be a few years off.

Martha Flynn said...

Did you catch 4400 the first time around? Those DVDs might tide you over until new offerings are available.

Jenny Rae Rappaport said...

Martha Flynn, I haven't seen 4400 yet, so that might be worth getting from Netflix.

Also, I haven't seen Farscape, but I've heard decent things about it. Anyone seen Farscape?

Melissa said...

Me and Bill are still watching Lost, which jumps between being scifi and not, and has gotten better again, but you have to know the storyline.

Other than that, yeah, sci-fi is sad. We tried to watch fringe, that lasted a whole 1/2 an episode. Dollhouse is awful, even the "twist" later on isn't great.

Right now, my favorite shows are House and the Mentalist.

Bill's seen some Farscape, he likes what he's seen. If you watched Stargate, Vala and Mitchell are in Farscape. Also, there will be a new Stargate series in the fall!

marikris said...

I love Dollhouse, though I would suggest another Joss Whedon series: Firefly. It's now on DVD though. But it's way better than its movie counterpart, Serenity, lol.

Martha Flynn said...

SOB! Sorry, I can't hear about Firefly/Serenity without getting all depressed about its cancellation.

Jenny Rae Rappaport said...

Am I going to get driven off my own blog, if I admit that I liked Serenity, but didn't really care for Firefly?

And that I've never seen Buffy? =)

Martha Flynn said...

WHAAA? But...I...ok, sigh. To each their own. I recommend *trying* Buffy, at least.

Laura said...

X-Files: The best!!!
Now, since that's out of the way, I'm jumping back into this conversation....

Personal preferences deeply influence TV tastes, which is why all of our picks are so diverse. Unfortunately, the SpecFic audiences are much smaller than, say, the "Friends" or "CSI" audiences, so less money is made... and we don't all like the same SpecFic series. More opinions to prove it: Buffy-no. Farscape-no. Firefly-no, but Serenity-yes (like Jenny). Roar-yes. Star Trek TNG-yes. Stargate-no. BTW, a great series on DVD that's close to being SpecFic is La Femme Nikita; Alias pales in comparison. But these are only MY opinions; yours are different, and equally valid. :)

Crimogenic said...

I miss battle star too :( I need a sci-fi fix. Guess the Star Trek movie anticipation has to do for now.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot said...

Farscape: Muppets in space. Win.

It got a little silly in the last season, but it's worth a watch. Certainly up my alley, but not everybody's.

You could also try Babylon 5. A scifi/wonk buddy of mine and I are planning a podcast, with an episode being devoted to how BSG is a product of the Bush era and Bab5 is a product of the Clinton era. NERDS.

For the record, some of the other things I enjoy are: Dexter (first season is hard if you can't deal with gore!), Ugly Betty (not SpecFic but completely charming), Lost (grudgingly; I didn't *want* to like it but it's addictive), and My Name is Earl (silly AND charming: my new favorite comedy, and I don't do favorites!).

An aside of possible relevance: in the past couple of years it's been very, very hard for me to get engrossed in shows/books/plays/movies/video games/&c. driven primarily by male characters (see above list: all well-balanced, diverse ensemble casts except one (arguably two...), which has (have) great lady support characters), which I think is a kind of media exhaustion. Like everyone else, I want to identify with characters, and that's just easier when they're my gender, and there are just more representations of guys than gals. Sorry, dudes; it's not you, it's me. Anyway, this leads to some interesting viewing debates between my guy-ish guy and I.