Musings On The Current Science Fiction TV Scene

We’re a few weeks into the fall TV season and science fiction is making an impact on the television scene. I thought I’d go ahead and spell out what I’m watching SF-wise and give you my thoughts on those shows and where I think the are, or should be, headed. I’ll go in order by day, starting on Monday night. Afterward, I’ll look at a couple of other shows that are on or will be on that are of some interest to me. Be advised that I will not be avoiding spoilers so read at your own risk.

  • Heroes, Mondays on NBC- The class of the new SF shows. Who doesn’t like Hiro, especially as a time-traveling ninja? I really like how the writers are slowly drawing the characters together and they actually give us clues and information we need in each episode. Sure, the acting can be weak and the writing could be better, but what new show hits on all cylinders out of the box? I think the last episode was a good one and I can’t wait for the good guys to take on Sylar and the Horned-Rim Glasses guy (HRG). I think there is enough here flesh out the creation of the hero team and how they stop the nuking of New York. What I don’t want to see is the NY story move on to a second season. I think each season should be its own self-contained story, a sort of mashup of LOST and 24. I also don’t want to see hero costumes, at least those with capes and spandex. Also, if we ever get any Wonder Twins, I’m out.
  • Eureka, Tuesdays on SciFi. – Yes, I know its over. But its one of the new SF shows and is worth covering. John has already given his impressions and I think its fair to say I like it more than John does. The only beef I have is the tendency to use technobabble, but that’s not a deal breaker as I wasn’t expecting the show to be science heavy. I got what I expected: a humorous, light-hearted show full of eccentric characters. I understand about how John feels about Stark, but I think that is the way the character is written. I do think the ‘artifact’ threads were handled too abruptly, but that is a minor quibble. I’ll still be watching (Summer 2007).
  • Jericho, Wednesday on CBS – Life after the bomb is a staple of SF and that is why I classify Jericho as SF, more for the setting than for the actual stories. This one is the weakest of the new shows with uninteresting characters and weak or unbelievable stories. Still, the appeal to me here is the mystery surrounding the nuking of several U.S. cities and just where was Jake for the last 5 years and what kind of person is he? Last weeks episode hinted that he may not be the goody-goody person we’ve seen. My current theory as to the nukes: a military coup. The theory I’d really love to see but there’s no way in a million years the studio would have green-lighted the show: alien invasion. I really see no way to make this one work for more than a season or two. This one will be the first one off my DVR if things go south.
  • LOST, Wednesday on ABC. – The 800 lb. gorilla of the SF scence, and yes, it is SF (invisible island you can’t leave, strange magnetic forces, giant 4-toed statues). I still like Lost. Sure, the writers dole out the answers as slowly as possible. You can blame the TV system for this as the writers have no way of knowing when the end of their show will happen. As a result, lots of vamping, although I do think the start of this season has been pretty good. Focusing on the Others was a good choice. And remember kids, LOST will be taking a 13 week break to allow us an uninterrupted chain of 16 episodes to close out the season. What will take its place? Well, see below!
  • Battlestar Galactica, Friday on SciFi. – I’m still a fanboy. All the build up done in the first couple of episodes of this season really payed off with the last episode. The Galactica jumping into New Caprica’s atmosphere to launch Vipers for ground support was as awesome as it was unexpected. And Tigh offing his wife because she helped the Cylons was gut wrenching. I know why he did it, but it was certainly a tough thing to see happen. It will be interesting to see what becomes of Tigh from here on out. And now Baltar is with the Cylons. Hopefully not to turn into the John Colicos character. A lot will have to happen for me to quit this show.

And that’s it. Those are the five SF shows I watch regularly which pretty much eats up my evenings, especially Wednesdays, after the kids are in bed, because don’t think I let my kids watch these shows. Oh no. But lets talk about the LOST vacation for a second. During that vacation, ABC will be showing a new series, Daybreak. This one looks to be part 24 and part Groundhog Day. How science fiction-y this is is yet to be seen. I guess it really depends on the mechanism behind the re-winding of the day, but if you think Groundhog Day can be considered SF, then Daybreak could be too. I’ll watch to see how it is but I’m not expecting a whole lot. With Heroes and Jericho being green-lighted for full seasons, its safe to say the SF fans will have a full season of nougaty SF goodness to sink their teeth into this fall/winter.

Another observation I have about these SF shows. They are all serials, to one extent or another. Eureka being the least serialized with stand-alone episodes thrown in with the ‘mythology’ episodes, much like X-Files. All the others require the viewers to know what has happened beforehand to get the most out of each episode. I like that as it rewards viewer ship, but makes it hard to add new fans. All networks allow you to watch previous episodes online, which is cool and helps to alleviate that problem, but its only a small help as most Americans probably don’t have broadband or want to watch TV on their computer monitors.

And lastly, I’m going to cover a bit of Star Trek. I’ve seen a few episodes of the newly re-done classic Star Trek and I like what they’ve done. The exterior shots look great, the opening sequence is very nice, and the new matte shots really take the cheese out of the obvious outdoor sets. And the stories still stand up well, although the trippy interior of the Enterprise is just whack. Seriously, green lights above the different settings? Still, I record them and watch them as I can. The only question: Are they appropriate for a 10 year old? My oldest wants to watch them and so far I haven’t, although I’ve wanted to.

And speaking of later Star Trek series, Enterprise is being shown in high definition on HDNet. Yeah, the stories aren’t the best, although the mirror universe ones are quite good, but damn, it looks good. Those of you with HDNet should check it out.

11 thoughts on “Musings On The Current Science Fiction TV Scene”

  1. I loved Enterprize.Best Trek yet next to Voyager.

    I thought nothing could top Voyager. I loved all

    the characters and then when enterprise came out,

    wow.I was getting Trek spoiled.

    Maybe SF was too Trekd out causing its ultimate

    demise

    I’m going to give BG another chance though.

    Jim

  2. I only watch Lost which hard core sci-fi fans says is not sci-fi and Battlestar Galactica which is space opera…which hard core sci-fi fans say isn’t sci-fi.

    To bad for sci-fi

  3. Did Tigh poisen Ellen? Or did he just slip her a mickey and she’ll eventually wake up on New Caprica, perhaps with the Cylons, perhaps completely alone?

    I like Heroes. I like Eureka alot too, but I’ve got too much on my plate to watch all this TV!!!! I’ve never watched Lost beyond an episode or two in the first season. Haven’t seen Jericho and have no desire to at this point.

    I always forget about the redone Trek until there’s about 1 minute left in the episode… I always to forget to turn off my VCR so it records it.

  4. You know, when the season announcements came out, I actually thought that ‘Jericho’ would be the good show and that ‘Heroes’ would blow. I mean, who doesn’t love a good end-of-the-world drama? I am *this close* to deleting it from the DVR list. ‘Heroes’ has been a great surprise — much more “Unbreakable” than “Greatest American Hero”.

    LOST continues to intrigue and annoy in nearly equal measures. At least we haven’t had to deal with Michael screaming, “WAAALLLLLTTT!!!” yet this season.

  5. Have to agree with ‘Heroes.’ I can see myself having a beer with any of them. Except Claire. Catch the show every week.

    On the other hand, I have yet to see ‘Jericho,’ although I’ve recorded every episode.

    Blessings

  6. Could y’all be a tad more vague in your descriptions of specific events in the various shows, especially Galactica. Given that some of us are averaging 70 hours a week, dealing with a child’s homework assignments and a sick parent, and therefore are letting the episodes pile up a bit?

    Thanks!

    :-$

  7. I’m with Fred – I’m trying hard to avoid the BG spoilers as I still haven’t finished watching Season 2 (so many things vying for my time – works, BF2142, wife, kids, Studio 60, BG, etc…)

    As for Jericho I haven’t watched all of it, but I believe the writers have yet to decide exactly what the reason for the disaster will be. I say this because it allows them the most flexibility. If the show has a huge following or is a solid cult hit, they might well go with the alien invasion angle. If it is struggling to find an audience and wants to attrack males (ages 18-24) then they might go with the military coup angle and play that up. If they want to attrack a female audience then…well, perhaps that’s a good SFSignal topic :).

  8. if star trek was ok for me when i was 8, it’s ok for your 10 year old kid. do not deprive him! that would be bad parenting.

  9. My hopes for Lost are fading. Four episdoes into the 3rd season and the series is showing X-Files, prolong the mystery for as long as possible style stretchmarks. The shift from character based stories to plot based doesn’t help and there are some big problems with continuity.

    BG on the other hand shows the characters evolving and changing throughout the series. For my money its clearly the top of the heap show.

    I don’t think we’re going to see Heroes characters adopt costumes but I expect them to start wearing cooler clothes (ala Matrix). We already know for instance what Hiro is going to look like in the future.

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