Science Fiction and Fantasy on TV.

A catch-all topic for movies, books, television, and other SF & F conversation.
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soulmirror
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Science Fiction and Fantasy on TV.

Postby soulmirror » Wed Nov 25, 2009 1:50 am

So ... what do we love, what do we hate?

The new THE PRISONER re-make? Success or disappointment?

FLASH FORWARD ... too cool or confusing?

"V" ... What the heck does the Roman numeral "five" have to do with alien lizard invaders?! (Or, haha you say? Why then do the V resistance people call themselves "Fifth column" ?!)

LOST ... can't wait until February return, or just feeling like it jumped the shark and now nothing's gonna tie it together before it ends?

Do we have other SF favourites?

What's a common problem you see with "mainstream" SF on TV?
How would you handle SF or Fantasy on TV differently?

Do you think the mainstream audience has to be "eased" or "educated" into watching SF?
Or is the pop culture already fairly up to speed after a generation of STAR WARS and TERMINATOR etc?

And is that a problem? (That the only SF we get is the "evil aliens who blow shite up" kind, not the "thought-provoking speculative drama" kind?)

And since I missed the last episode of DEFYING GRAVITY ... What was in the secret space pod, when the astronauts all defied orders and went inside to see what was sending them hallucinations?

Let's discuss -- Heck, some of us may have to do something ABOUT it! 8)
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Postby klaatu » Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:03 am

I haven't seen the remake of The Prisoner yet - but I'm not holding my breath. I just have a feeling they won't capture the right feeling.

I tried to like Lost and Flash Forward. I felt they were both average. I am, however, currently reading Flash Forward (the Sawyer novel) and loving it.

I enjoyed The Lost Room, but ultimately felt it was unfinished. I'm watching Sanctuary at the moment. It seems like X-Files meets Buffy, but is not up to the quality of either.

It's a shame, as these are all shows I want to love. Lost, Flash Forward, Sanctuary all have the right elements for me, but just seem to be Pepsi Max when I'm looking for Coke.

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A Song of Ice and Fire on HBO

Postby phil » Wed Nov 25, 2009 11:23 am

Me, I am stoked for George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones that's being filmed now to air on HBO (if the pilot gets picked up).

First, if you've never read Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, I urge you to pick up the first novel and give it a chance (if you're into fantasy of course, sci-fi, not so much). This may be the greatest epic fantasy story ever told.

Second, most fantasy book to screen adaptations are garbage. Goodkind's Seeker tv series comes to mind. Le Guin's Earthsea on the sci-fi network was abysmal.

But this one promises to be different. Martin himself is a producer, the script follows the book very closely, and the cast is all-star.

Check out winter-is-coming.blogspot.com for all the details. Pray to the gods, old and new, that HBO picks this up as a series.

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Postby izanobu » Wed Nov 25, 2009 12:51 pm

I'm excited about Game of Thrones too.

I'm really enjoying V and Stargate Universe. I also watch Dollhouse (or was, until they took it off, but hopefully they'll air the final episodes).

I like Lost, but have only watched the first season so far.

Also a fan of Dr Who and intend to watch Torchwood at some point as well.

Going to catch up on Fringe and Warehouse 13 at some point also.

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Postby wswingley » Wed Nov 25, 2009 1:38 pm

I'm feeling more and more like an old man as I'd rather sit down to some Star Trek: TNG than watch any of the newer stuff.

I'm watching V now and enjoying it so far. Little disappointed that they turned the "V" meaning around, but it really does make more sense as "V for Visitor". Very very much missing Marc Singer though... BEASTMASTER!!!

I loved Reaper before it was cancelled (grr) and Firefly is still kancellation king, but Lost and Heroes started off with supernova flare and then collapsed to greater suckitude than a black hole. Yes, my astrophysics is terribly inaccurate.

I'd love to check out Flash Forward, but the commercials didn't do it for me. Maybe I'll check out the book, but if it's as preachy as Hominids (thought it was an excellent read) I'll probably stay away.

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Postby Brad R. Torgersen » Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:15 pm

Only SF I watched on TV regularly was BSG 2.0

Otherwise, I catch the occasional ST:TNG re-run, as those are usually enjoyable.

Haven't bothered with "Lost" or much of the other, new productions.

It's hard for me to justify watching any TV at all these days, with how busy I am. The thing I actually watch most is NBA basketball.
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Postby soulmirror » Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:40 pm

I'll have to read Flash Forward too. Enjoying the TV series, though. Beyond the actual story content, it's interesting to see a Sci-Fi TV show that depends more on an speculative IDEA, than just flashy special FX and eye candy (though there's nothing wrong with either, imo, as long as there are ideas behind that.)

Megan Fox aside (or in a gift box under the tree this Christmas, either is appropriate) I luv the FX in TRANSFORMERS movies for about ten minutes, after which it just becomes empty flashbang/so what? for me.

I think there'd be more SF and Fantasy on TV (and that might make our genre "mainstream" again, hoozah, happy healthy genre magazines to buy our stories etc) if the cost could be be less expensive / risky to try, budgetwise ... and more IDEA driven.

Though I admit, what with the advancements in CGI, I don't know how expensive it even is to hang those "V" motherships over New York etc.

CGI cheaper than building models?

Bill Murray was on Morning Joe today and he said the stop action animation for THE FANTASTIC MR. FOX took two years!

On the other hand, as we've all heard, PARANORMAL ACTIVITIES cost $15,000 or so and has raked in more than $100 million.
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Postby Prisoner » Thu Nov 26, 2009 12:56 am

Some of my faves in small and big screen.
Errand of Mercy episode in Star Trek
Babylon 5 was perhaps the best SF ever to come on TV.
Wrath of Khan and First Contact movies
Alien, Star Wars original


V I think could be better than the original, like Battlestar Galactica.
I'm watching Flash Forward, though it does seem more like a crime drama.

There's a lot of gold on the fringe:
Brainstorm
Minority Report, Blade Runner, Total Recall, great Philip K. Dick concepts.
Dark City
The Lathe of Heaven
Good, mind expanding SF.
No Such Thing: Black Humor, fantasy, excellent


How 'bout the worst?
Dune the original movie.
Sadly, Battlefield Earth, didn't do justice to the book.
The Day after Tomorrow, too preachy.
A Sound of Thunder, how COULD they do that to Bradbury? A crime.
Likewise, the Island, far too preachy.
The Prisoner remake, I couldn't take more than an hour of denial of the outside world, so obvious. How did the Doctor become a Doctor? See any med schools in the A frame village? How about oil refineries for the gas engines? It isn't the prisoner, it is the Truman Show without logic.

Plenty of popcorn movies, meh, like
Godzilla, Deep Impact, Transformers, etc.,
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Postby EmeryH » Thu Nov 26, 2009 8:12 am

Event Horizon was a pretty bad ass SF horror movie as well.

Heroes the TV series could count as comic book fantasy, but I'm rather unhappy with it. It feels like the creator only had one season planned in his head, then realized the show was a hit and tried to just string it out as long as possible.

Babylon 5 was amazing. A shame the writer had to rush the ending because he thought they weren't going to let him have a season 5. Then after he ruined the pacing/plotting of the series, they gave him his fifth season which he then created fillers for. Sigh.

On GRRM, I was a big fan of his series until he started splitting books in half and putting all the characters I didn't like into one, then making me wait half a decade to read the actual characters I like. Which is STILL not out. Half a decade is a pretty steep amount of time to wait, especially considering the next book isn't even the finale! I'm not sure I'd like to wait 10+ years to see a series end.

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Postby Prisoner » Thu Nov 26, 2009 8:59 am

Thank you for the bad memories of Event Horizon. There's a panoply of trashy SF, enough for a series itself, Mystery Science Theater.

Babylon 5 yes, I think it also thought it had to wrap after the first season, it was always starting and stopping. But it never got to be dreck, like Lost in Space and Seaquest.

GRRM? Can you expand that?
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Postby klaatu » Thu Nov 26, 2009 3:21 pm

Prisoner wrote:
GRRM? Can you expand that?



G.......................R.......................R.......................M




Yep, I can.

:)

Steve


p.s. I think it's George R.R. Martin
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Postby Jeff » Fri Nov 27, 2009 10:50 am

I had GRRM as a seminar instructor back in 2004. He's a very nice guy. Very personable. He was frustrated at that time at the massive length that the last book had grown to. He wasn't even done yet, and the publisher was already saying they wouldn't publish it at that length (the first books were in the ballpark of 1300 pages, weren't they? The new manuscript was way beyond that). He was trying to find a way to cut the book in half.

He told us then that he didn't think it would be fare to put all the characters in, and then chop the book right in half with all of the plot-lines hangings (given the pace of his writing). So since the north and south plot lines had already completely diverged, he decided to finish and publish each seperately. I'm surprised he hasn't come out with the second half yet. I've heard him read the same opening chapter to the new book at two conventions now.

The series was always supposed to be 6 books. Hopefully he won't have to keep cutting books in half and doubling them.

One amazing thing I learned with him as the instructor is that he takes no notes. He remembers everything, and every character. He could remember the name of some redshirt guard on a wall who was only in one scene. And he could tell you roughly what page that scene occured on.

I can barely remember the beginning of my manuscripts when I get to the end, let along all of the cannon fodder.

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Postby osomuerte » Fri Nov 27, 2009 2:44 pm

Didn't know Game of Thrones was in line for HBO. I might have to get HBO for that. (More likely catch it through Netflix or something.)

I picked up Game of Thrones because GRRM will be at Clarion this year, and I hadn't read his stuff (Iknow...I know). The writing is great, his ability to build tension and mess up his characters' lives. That's a tough talent. I bet it will translate well to miniseries format (or not-so-mini-series).

As for the rest of the TV talk, I just can't get excited about V. I'm 3 episodes behind on my DVR. The characters just didn't grip me. My wife has been sick and watched The Prisoner and really enjoyed it (excellent actors), but I haven't had time.

I don't do Lost. Flash Forward looked cool, but I missed a couple episodes and found I didn't really care. I am still a Heroes junkie, but it's running thin. I can't even bring myself to rewatch season 1, which I know was good. The new season is too complex to be enjoyable, a case of writers trying too hard.

I think the best SF on television right now comes in the form of commercials for the movie Avatar.

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Postby soulmirror » Sun Nov 29, 2009 9:49 pm

osomuerte wrote:I think the best SF on television right now comes in the form of commercials for the movie Avatar.


I'm purposefully trying to avoid knowing too much about AVATAR before seeing it!

But it loooooks like it could be utterly amazing: Amazing imaginative story-telling, world creation, CGI fx ... but also it looks like actual character-driven adventure and conflict: the soldier coming to grips with his own inner (or his exploitative society's) demons.

Plus, James Cameron be no slouch. THE ABYSS (the director's cut version) is one of my all-time favs.

As for whether AVATAR will break down the Doors of Perception and re-create the entire of Cinema into 3-D deliciousness ... only time will tell.

(Half of the pop culture is halfway already jacked into mindlessness already, anyway. Might as well curl up in our MATRIX cocoons and enjoy the end of everything with a good show! On the other hand ... some great SF masterpiece may come along -- y'know, how those things just HAPPEN, it's not like anyone actually WRITES the things, right? -- and wake us all up and save the world from apathy!

:)
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Postby Brad R. Torgersen » Mon Nov 30, 2009 11:46 am

Avatar's SFX look astounding, but the plot makes me yawn.

As has been said in other places around the net: FernGully Troopers.

Or, Dances with FernGully.

Dances With Wolves... On An Alien Planet.

Etc, etc.

The preach factor seems like it'll be high, so my interest is rather low.

Have had more than my fill of Noble Savage worship, thanks.
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Postby Alastair » Mon Nov 30, 2009 2:03 pm

Brad R. Torgersen wrote:Avatar's SFX look astounding, but the plot makes me yawn.

As has been said in other places around the net: FernGully Troopers.


Or perhaps Disney's "Pocahontas" in Space. Somebody should set the trailer to "Colors of the Wind". ;)

But, because it introduces some new (to film) tropes (that have been in print SF for decades), it will be seen by many as brilliant. (Even the images of the planet remind me of Roger Dean's early 1970s album covers for Yes.)

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Postby Brad R. Torgersen » Mon Nov 30, 2009 2:13 pm

OMG I totally thought of Yes album covers too!!!

:D
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Postby soulmirror » Mon Nov 30, 2009 10:42 pm

Have had more than my fill of Noble Savage worship, thanks.


You ... you ... you people have just surrendered your moral right to stampede Disneyland characters off a cliff! :?

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Postby soulmirror » Fri Dec 04, 2009 8:10 pm

Alastair wrote:But, because it introduces some new (to film) tropes (that have been in print SF for decades), it will be seen by many as brilliant.


I wonder what that says about the SF genre, too?

That putting an idea in prose doesn't make a splash in the popular culture ... but a movie makes it "brand new?"

It's puzzled me for years: Look at the TOP TEN successful movies and most of them are SF or Fantasy.

Look at the TOP 50 biggest box office movies: SF and Fantasy!
http://www.imdb.com/boxoffice/alltimegross?region=world-wide

And yet many would say that Science Fiction and Fantasy are still some peripheral genre ... Still don't shape popular culture or consciousness?

Is it just that NOBODY READS anymore?

How come every huge MOVIE doesn't unleash a tidal wave of new READERS into the SF / Fantasy market?

Why do the short story genre magazines still struggle to survive ... while the movie SF /Fantasy thrives?

Submitted For Your Approval (sucks on cig)

Seriously: SOMEBODY is doing something wrong.

Not here ... but out there.

What ???
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Postby Brad R. Torgersen » Sat Dec 05, 2009 9:23 am

SF and F work especially well on film, I think, because they literally transport people to other times, places, worlds, etc. People eat that up. I know that's what gets me to the theater. I've not sat through a "regular" movie in the theaters for many, many years. But I will get out to see SF or F that seems remarkable.

But of course, cinematic snobbery is as alive and well as literary snobbery.

Hence the Academy Awards almost never recognize a SF and F film.

LotR being one of the few exceptions, and then only because LotR was so wildly successful and well-done, with so many good performances by so many good actors, and all based on one of the great literary series of the last 100 years... To not recognize that would have been bald proof of the Academy's bias.

Ah well, who cares? As a SF writer, if I have to choose between awards and academic recognition, and selling a lot and being popular with fans, I choose the latter.
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Postby soulmirror » Sun Dec 06, 2009 1:53 am

Brad R. Torgersen wrote:Ah well, who cares? As a SF writer, if I have to choose between awards and academic recognition, and selling a lot and being popular with fans, I choose the latter.


Just remember to make them to pay you for the publishing rights and the screen adaptation rights separately, when possible! :twisted:

That way, when Hollywood comes wanting to turn your novel into their next blockbuster, you can say (heehee) "Show me tha MONEY!" and not, y'know ... aw gee, those other guys got the rights when they published my book.

But there's no denying it, in Hollywood the Writer may be exceedingly well paid but gets little of the acclaim.

The ticket-buying public goes to a movie because it's their newest fav Actor movie or the latest fav Director movie ... and as for the writer it's "who's that?"

Seriously: SOMEBODY is doing something wrong.


THAT may be part of what Hollywood does wrong, even as they rake in the $$$. Hollywood might be doing even better (especially artistically) if they sought out and nurtured NEW WRITERS like WOTF does!

That still leaves wide open the question:

How might SF and Fantasy PUBLISHING bring some of Hollywood's SF/F success back home to benefit all OUR aspirations?

Back in the days of the multitude of GENRE PULPS there were many more places for a new writer to be discovered, be read and get paid, right?

I understand that "publishing" has changed, but when the change isn't in a direction we care to see continue ... Change Again!

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Postby Alastair » Mon Dec 07, 2009 11:41 pm

Brad R. Torgersen wrote:As a SF writer, if I have to choose between awards and academic recognition, and selling a lot and being popular with fans, I choose the latter.


Or as Jerry Pournelle put it when one of his and Niven's bestsellers (might have been Lucifer's Hammer, not certain) missed out on the Hugo (yeah, hardly an academic award): "New York Times bestsellers will get you through times of no Hugos better than Hugos will get you through times of no bestsellers."

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Postby M. Wimmer » Thu Dec 10, 2009 9:34 am

Alastair wrote:
Brad R. Torgersen wrote:Avatar's SFX look astounding, but the plot makes me yawn.

As has been said in other places around the net: FernGully Troopers.


Or perhaps Disney's "Pocahontas" in Space. Somebody should set the trailer to "Colors of the Wind". ;)


I would consider it more of an interplanetary Ernest Goes to Camp.

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Postby soulmirror » Fri Jan 01, 2010 10:21 am

The preach factor seems like it'll be high, so my interest is rather low.

Have had more than my fill of Noble Savage worship, thanks.


Well, maybe you've used 'preach' and 'worship' there in rather negative terms, perhaps?

At least, that's my rant and I'm stickin' to it!

There is certainly a role for Science Fiction that merely entertains ... but many fans might say they also look to SF as being a genre that can provide alternative insights (even to the point of being 'alien' insights), societal commentary ... and raise important questions of the status quo and offer speculative solutions.

ALL of that could be characterized as being 'preaching' by someone who doesn't care for the message offered ... or ... as being relevant and challenging by someone who does agree with the message.

I agree that "the Noble Savage" can become both tired as a theme and embraced by hypocrites, armchair quarterbacks, and their kin.

But "the Noble Savage" can also be a fitting character to put into conflict against other characters who represent our (I'd offer) culture's shallow materialistic mindset and the despoiling tendencies of Capitalism and Greed, of "Progress" for a few at the expense of human and environmental well-being.

I agree that done badly a story can become too-obviously "preachy" ... but that doesn't alter the idea that we may be living in a modern culture that needs to be "preached" to before it suffers some terrible calamity.

I wish someone had "preached" to the mass audience about the dangers of economic collapse brought about by Wall Street greed and short-sightedness.

I wish someone had "preached" better about the dangerous of Terrorism and the self-destruction of an over-reaching over-reaction to an assortment of ills we find ourselves in.

I haven't seen AVATAR yet, so I can wiser (and more vaguely) reply here rather than in your recent review thread ...

Maybe AVATAR sucks as a SF story, I can't offer anything about that until I've seen it! But I can suggest that not liking the Message a movie offers is not the same as it being a defective movie or story. And that agreeing or not with the Message isn't what makes it "preachy" ...

I recall the great scene in the great movie ON THE WATERFRONT, where Karl Malden as a Catholic priest literally PREACHES to the labourers. His sermon is a vital and vibrant organic outpouring of the story and the character conflicts: but it is still PREACHING.

And that is what Science Fiction can do and perhaps should do, both as great ART and as a vital voice in directing its audience and our society as a whole to some speculative, future conflict or challenge: Preach.

Again, whether AVATAR does it well or not, I've read your review and may well agree with you after I've seen it! :(

But I probably won't disdain it simply because it preaches or because it has Noble Savages to hold up as alternatives to ... modern culture gone amok.

(And I know by your review that your negative responses to the movie involve MANY other issues, beyond the one I respond to here)

I probably won't abandon the idea that one of the great things Science Fiction can offer us is Speculation and Insight into the FUTURE challenges ... or Warning ... and if need be, "Preaching" of ways to deal with the human challenges of the Future.

Some folks I know disdain the entire realm of Space Exploration as a waste of money and technology ("They sent men to the moon for a few rocks, but people are homeless right here on Earth ..." etc)

To them, our thrill at exploring space is just the SF fan (and the science educated) being "preached to" and "worshipping" empty knowledge.

I would hope that one movie (some movie, any movie) might grab them and awaken them to the rapture of space exploration ...

I cannot help but feel that if that rapture came, to the mass audience, it would be in the form of a movie, rather than a book. But no doubt that movie (if it is to be rapture-inspiring) will come from a BOOK, and not the drivel that usually inspires movies (that is, a toy or a cereal box)

But I sure hope AVATAR doesn't suck! :shock:
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Postby soulmirror » Sat Jan 02, 2010 8:40 am

No, it most certainly did not. :D

suck.

And it wasn't even preachy, other than "destroying other people's eco-systems is bad, and humans can choose to do either the moral thing or the immoral thing.

Someone said that the movie suggests that the aliens are "better than us" ... but I had to disagree: the Na'avi are living more in HARMONY with their Nature, it's true.

But the Na'avi are just doing what they do to best profit their world and themselves. Theirs is Enlightened self-interest, but it's still self-interest.

It's the HUMANS who make the difficult and selfless moral choices in this story: Sully could help ruin Pandora but buy his legs back, the humans who help him SACRIFICE themselves to help an innocent alien species survive.

The characters most 'idealized' here aren't the Edenic "noble savages" but rather the modern humans who rise to meet Mankind's ethical challenges with sacrifice.

We're not called upon to be "tree hugging" hippies like the Na'vi (we biologically CANNOT be, we don't have their alien symbiotic Oneness to Nature, we cannot "jack in" our nerve nets with our planet's Nature)

All we're called upon by this movie is to rise to become MORAL HUMANS, not greedy exploiters, enslavers, and murderers of other sentient beings.

Hardly preaching.

Or if it is preaching ... then preach on, bruthah Cameron. Walk on, blue Sistah catgirl!
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Postby Caleb Clark » Sat Jan 02, 2010 3:25 pm

Did anyone watch the 4400 while it was on a few years ago? It wasn't utterly amazing, but it was decent when compared to anything after season 1 of Heroes(which was amazing in my book).

If any of you get the chance, you should definitely check it out. It re-inspired my love for science fiction.

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Postby soulmirror » Sat Jan 02, 2010 9:15 pm

I started watching it, was enjoying it ... then fell away for some reason. It seemed a fascinating premise though ...

Did anyone watch the last episodes of DEFYING GRAVITY? I got to the episode where they were all about to defy orders and go in and see what was inside the mysterious pod, sending them visions ... then I missed what follows.

To me, DEFYING GRAVITY was a great SF story idea that got tangled up in soap opera character relationships (but I'd read even one of the producers was calling it GREY'S ANATOMY IN SPACE) Sort of like the American remake of LIFE ON MARS got tangled up in being a police show ... ???

SF seems vulnerable sometimes to falling apart from muddy mixed influences ...
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phil
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Postby phil » Wed Mar 03, 2010 10:48 am

HBO has greenlit production of GRRM's Game of Thrones. It ordered the pilot and 9 episodes. Production begins in June.

The first promo pic from the series has been released, showing what purports to be a scene from the prologue, a young ranger Will riding through the frozen forest beyond the wall and discovering some bodies.

http://winter-is-coming.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/6a00d83451d69069e201310f542cb2970c-800wi.jpg

osomuerte
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Postby osomuerte » Wed Mar 03, 2010 3:25 pm

Sweeeeet!!!

Alastair
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Postby Alastair » Wed Mar 03, 2010 10:44 pm

Cool.

The snow around the bodies is neither blood-spattered nor trampled, and there's not enough snow on the bodies for it to have snowed later. Is this a point in the book (which I haven't read) or just sloppy set dressing?


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