Recently I found myself wanting a serious fix of proper science fiction. I read plenty of books, so that box was ticked. What I wanted instead was something big and epic and dramatic and full of adventure and decent acting and great writing and well applied special effects, and… Well you get the idea, I wanted a lot.
So I tried a few movies. Old, recent and new ones that I thought might help. In no particular order I watched: Aliens, Alien Resurrection (oh boy, what a mistake), Event Horizon, Iron Man, the new Star Trek and a couple others. I also took a trip to the cinema to see The Hunger Games. All this left me unsatisfied after too little time had passed. There are some gems in there, but none were exactly what I was looking for.
Next I thought I’d try television shows. Firefly was out because I watched it during a complete nerd-fest a few months ago (along with Serenity, what a great couple of days). My thoughts moved to BSG, but then I remembered I promised myself the next time I watch that it will be on a BIG-ASS screen (seriously, no joke, if I can get rich and build my own cinema for this then I will) in the highest quality known to humanity. Eventually I chose Stargate SG-1. And you know what? Great choice! It’s a lot of fun, it’s dramatic, it’s funny, it’s full of adventure, it’s got great good guys and even better bad guys. It’s got TWO spin off shows and TWO spin off movies! What more could I want? Zip! Well I’m going to watch SG:U in due time (again), and my thoughts on this show led me to think about watching something original instead.
Do you know what’s on TV at the moment in form of rip-roaring adventure science fiction? No? Of course you don’t, because there is none. Don’t get me wrong, there’s sci-fi/fantasy out there that’s good (Fringe, Supernatural, I’m looking at you guys!), but it’s not space opera, and there’s no space magic, and that’s what I want. I know that’s a little narrow of me, but I really don’t care. The first movie I ever remember seeing was Return Of The Jedi. I don’t even remember the whole movie, I just remember the skiff battle. That kind of thing stays with you, and for me at least it seems to have defined what I like now.
But I’ll never get what I want when science fiction is consistently shunted off the air in favour of every single other type of programming that can be pulled out of thin air. Here’s a small list of the great shows that have been cancelled over the last few years (in no particular order):
- Terra Nova
- Stargate Universe
- The 4400
Add to those the shows that haven’t been picked up, like Blood & Chrome, and 17th Precinct, and who knows how many more I don’t even know about. Now these aren’t the greatest shows of any genre ever, and it wouldn’t be fair to describe as the best of anything out there. But they are fun, they do have a wide and varied appeal. They cover phenomenal amounts of topics from politics to sexuality to religion to mental illness to a tonne of other stuff and back again. AND… AND… You can get really cool toys spawned by science fiction shows. If that’s the kind of thing you’re into… Which I am… Shhh.
So why do I need you? Well it’s simple really, but here’s a little background: Science fiction gets cancelled because of viewing figures (among other reasons, but this one is cited a lot). Apparently they were low for the above mentioned shows and many more. And when that happens advertising, and hence money, becomes the issue. A big one. And it’s easier, cheaper, and more profitable to buy a season of some reality show that follows around whatever vapid celebrity is attempting to relaunch their career this month than it is to run the risk of sci fi. I’m not saying you should go out and watch all the sci fi right now – if you did that’d be awesome – but what I’m suggesting is that next time you see some sci fi just give it a chance. Don’t switch off when you see monsters, lasers, moons, planets, aliens, maths or any impressive special effect. Check it out, you might like it, hell you might even love it. It’s a broad field, there’s something there for everyone.
And the more you do that, the better the chance that not only will you find something you like, but also they’ll buy up and show something I like.