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Upcoming SF on TV and Film

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:

  • DaybreakGroundhog’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.

About JP Frantz (2323 Articles)
Has nothing interesting to say so in the interest of time, will get on with not saying it.

12 Comments on Upcoming SF on TV and Film

  1. The Fountain –

    Darren Aronofsky directs. That makes it a Must-See for me.


    From the previews, this one doesn’t much grab me at all.

  2. Matthew Sanborn Smith // July 26, 2006 at 7:56 pm //

    “Mimsy Were The Borogroves” is one of my favorite short stories. I only wish I could remember more of it! I don’t remember the toys exactly, But I remember it had to do with kids being able to access another dimension because of some arcane and mathematical sort of language that only kids (and Lewis Carroll) were open-minded enough to understand. I’m betting that Hollywood will warp it until it has very little to do with the original story anyway.

  3. “Mimsy” should be pretty easily found.

    This lists anthologies it has appeared in:

    I’d suggest “The Science Fiction Hall of Fame” (Volume I), edited by Robert Silverberg. Tor, IIRC, has a trade paperback edition.

    The Road to Science Fiction, Volume III, edited by James Gunn, has had a couple of editions. You might be able to find that.

    The Ascent of Wonder, edited by Hartwell and Cramer should be in print, but might need a special order.

    All of the above are excellent anthologies in their own right.

  4. joshua corning // July 27, 2006 at 12:12 am //

    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.

    ouch…so does that mean you regret seeing star wars, the matrix 3, and 2001?

    OK everyone regrets seeing matrix 3…but i am sure you see my point..

    hell lambrinth is a good movie and it is a musical filled with muppets.

    funny thing that jennifer conally was also in Aronofsky’s requim for a dream.

    “Ass to ass”

    god that movie was hard to watch.

  5. JP, I already have a copy of The Science Fiction Hall of Fame Volume I in my office.

    [Looks around] What?

  6. Joshua,

    I’ve never seen Matrix 3 so no regrets there! And from the description, I don’t see Star Wars or 2001 being as fantasy oriented as The Fountain. Both SW and 2001 seem to be much more SF oriented than Fountain, which looks to have only a part of it be SF. Calling it SF is a stretch, sorta like calling Cloud Atlas SF because two of the stories take place in SF settings, while the rest aren’t. But becase the SF boundaries are vague, I’m willing to admit I’m wrong if and when that becomes necessary. If you see it, let us know what you thought!

    As for Mimsy, I now recall having read it from that self-same book John has in his office. I remember it being kinda creepy/weird, but I don’t recall any specifics. I do know that the movie will bear no resemblence what so ever to the actual short story.

  7. Why do people categorize Lost as SF? Barring one hell of an explanation (the only one I can think of is a hack on the computational architecture of the universe) I don’t see it fitting the bill. The ocassional appearance of a man in a labcoat on a film and the odd reference to electromagnetism does not science fiction make. Having said that I love Lost.

    Ditto to your Logan’s Run thoughts. More new ideas, less retreading please, please make the retreads stop.

    I don’t recall any references in Star Trek:OS to Kirk and Spock going to the Academy together. You’d think if they knew each other for that long it’d get mentioned. This isn’t quite as silly as finding out that Darth Vader made C3PO but it’s close. What’s next a Star Trek high school soap? Kirk’s the jock who bangs all the girls, Spock his nerdy friend helps him with his homework and McCoy is always pissed because Spock gets better grades and Kirk bangs all the chicks he likes. Please let Star Trek die.

  8. joshua corning // July 27, 2006 at 7:47 pm //

    I’ve never seen Matrix 3 so no regrets there! And from the description, I don’t see Star Wars or 2001 being as fantasy oriented as The Fountain.

    so wait is it you just don’t like fantacy or is it you don’t like fantacy that some people call sci-fi…or is there some other reason you do not like fountain that is unrelated?

  9. I am not a fan of fantasy in general, with some exceptions (Lord of the Rings, Scott Erikson’s books). The Fountain sounds like romantic fantasy which really doesn’t appeal to me. Let me be clear here. If it sounded like romantic SF, I’d only be marginally more interested, but just barely.

  10. There are occasional references to Spock and Kirk going to the Academy together–but they are from things like novels and comics. Is it “canon”? Depends on how much of a fanboy you are, I guess.

    Sigh. Why can’t they let the thing rest for a while? Maybe we’ll watch the flick and wish they had done the film based on ERB’s “John Carter of Mars” tales instead.

  11. Should be interesting to see how successful DAYBREAK is, and compare it to TRU CALLING, which starred Eliza Dushku and also had the Groundhog Day-reliving aspect every week.

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