Because of this article in USA Today, thoughtfully provided by John in today’s tidbits, I thought I’d take a quick look at the films highlighted in the article as well as take a quick look at the upcoming SF(ish) shows on TV.
First up, the movies that are supposedly reclaiming Hollywood.
- Children Of Men – take a SF idea (human race can no longer reproduce) and then explore the ramifications when a woman discovers she is pregnant. I’d say this is SF in the same vein as Margret Atwood’s stories are SF with minimal, but present, SF ideas but an emphasis on the characters. Still, not a film that’s jumping out at me.
- The Fountain – is this really SF? I’d say it’s really romance/fantasy that happens to have one setting in the far future. Not on my list to see. Ever.
- Mimzy – Based on the short story, “Mimsy Were The Borogroves”, by Lewis Padgett. I’ve never read this one so I don’t know how SF-ish it is. It could go either way as a box of toys from the future could have a lot of SF elements to it, or just devolve into a horror/creep fest. I’ll keep my eye on this one.
- Logan’s Run – The on again/off again re-make by Bryan Singer of the X-Men movies fame. Do we really need to update the classic Micheal York vehicle? I don’t think so. How about something fresh and not another remake?
- Star Trek XI – The latest in the Star Trek franchise, this time directed by J.J. Abrams. Supposedly set during the Academy days of Kirk and Spock. Now, I like Kirk and Spock, but to me, Star Trek is about more than just the characters. Sure, they play a large part, but its also about discovery and exploration. I’d like to see a return to the fiver-year voyage and see more ‘new life and new civilizations’. Please.
And now, the TV shows:
- Daybreak – Groundhog’s Day meets The Fugitive. A detective, played by Taye Diggs, is framed for killing the assistant district attorney. To clear his name, he must re-live the same day over and over again and solve the mystery. Alright, I can see the conceit here. Man replays the same day over and over again, but really, how long can they do this? Is one season dedicated to solving one mystery, so we’d get 20-ish episodes all about the same day, only with slightly different actions? That means that future seasons would have to be dedicated to different mysteries. Um, ok. I can see why, with the success of 24, this show may work, but I have my doubts. I also don’t see any SF elements in it, aside from the re-living each day. I’d put this squarely in the supernatural camp, and thus, a pass.
- Heroes – Alright, now this sounds interesting. Ordinary people wake up one morning and discover they have super powers. Lots of interesting possibilities here. I’ll be recording this one to see how it goes. An interesting note. One of the characters, Claire Bennet, is from Odessa, Texas. Having lived there for two years, I can say, if there’s any town you’re glad to be out of, Odessa is it. You can get a first look at Heroes on NBC’s website.
- Jericho – A small town is left isolated and in chaos as a nuclear war severs their ties with the outside world. Jericho is obviously a drama, exploring the chaos and fear among the survivors. But I have to wonder: Why can’t they just hop in a car and drive a ways to see what’s happened? Maybe there is more SF lurking under the covers that explains what is going on, we’ll see. I will be recording this to see what it’s like.
- Raines – A police officer cracks cases by speaking with the murdered. Really, how much suspense is there after that? Each episode should take the following form: Detective arrives at scene of murder, Detective contacts and speaks with dead person, Dead person says, “It was _____! (S)He killed me!”, Detective takes law into his own hands and delivers justice, from beyond the grave!, roll credits. Seriously. Lame.
- Six Degrees – A web of coincidences draws six New Yorkers together and changes their lives. The only SF that may exist in this show is based on the fact that this show is from the producers of Lost. I see another “it is/it isn’t SF” show. Maybe I’ll watch once, but I wouldn’t count on it.
- Traveler – Two friends are prime suspects in a museum bombing. In trying to clear their names, they discover that one of them has never existed and become caught in yet another vast conspiracy. Seriously, why is there always a conspiracy? And a vast one? Potentially interesting to me.
So there you have it. Not much overtly SF either on TV or in the movies. Which is too bad. We need more good, true SF shows. I don’t care if they are on cable if that’s what it takes. And a request for Hollywood: Please make use of people who know SF, like, you know, SF authors. Thank you.