Atom wrote:The 'sci fi on primetime' concept is merely a trendy one, and I'm glad it's slowly ending. V and Flashforward (and countless other now-cancelled shows) are thinly-veiled attempts at creating an intriguing and engrossing mystery. They deserve to fail.
The problem is not that the shows are sci-fi, it's that they are not thought out in advance, and are poorly and hastily written. V is a poor attempt at a character drama that is wrapped in the shell of a poorly conceived sci-fi thriller. In 12 episodes, almost nothing at all happened, and unless they do a lot of work to change the direction in the second season, it won't last long. It could have been something very special, but, like you, network execs don't believe sci-fi can work on primetime, so they don't back it properly. With intelligent writers, and a competent cast, V could have really worked, but it relies too heavily on primetime standards (teen angst, romance, family drama, religious hangups, etc. etc.) which have nothing to do with the show being sci-fi whatsoever.
Sci-Fi is something that I think can and should
work on network TV, but it needs to be something that is planned in advance, and has a set number of episodes from the get go. A fully fleshed-out story that can be told in a specific timeframe without convoluted story threads, and without relying on the audience being a bunch of impatient dullards (hard to fathom, I know). It can be done, it just hasn't really worked yet because the network format is too rigid, and networks want shows that have 22 episodes per season, and a large number of characters, and accessible storylines, and romance subplots, and low budgets.
Lost worked because it tricked the audience into thinking it wasn't a sci-fi show until the fourth season, when no one could deny it any longer. Fringe works (barely) because it borrows from the ever popular crime procedural, and has a small cast. V and FlashForward fail because they are poorly written, and poorly executed, not
because they are sci-fi.
If you want an example of a show that is really
trying way too hard
to be weird and mindf*cky, look at ABC's Happy Town, which was cancelled after only two episodes (although it will continue its run for 6 more I believe.) That is a show which plays like the writers have absolutely no concept behind what they're doing, and threw ideas into the scripts simply because they sound weird or vaguely creepy. It's vastly less intelligent than even V, which is hard to do. Vaguely mysterious, vaguely sci-fi, but 100% hokey, campy crap.
I don't think that sci-fi on primetime is a trend, because some of the biggest shows in history have been sci-fi shows (Twilight Zone, Twin Peaks, X-Files, Lost) that have done very well. There will always be shows that try to ride on the coattails of these kinds of shows, and it's very rare that one actually sticks and makes an impact. But with shows becoming cheaper and cheaper to produce, I think all it's going to take is someone with an idea that is actually good, who knows where to take that idea. And if you ask me, that idea is probably going to come from Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse. I think they will take the lessons they learned on Lost, and make something very special.
I'm probably only saying this because sci-fi is my favorite genre, but you have to admit, even the poorest attempts at sci-fi on TV are better than the mindless, interminable hospital and police drama dreck that are constantly renewed, and insurmountably better than any "reality" show that has ever existed. Now THAT
is a trend that I want to see die a fiery death...