Like a lot of you, I’m still digesting the final episode to, in my opinion, one of the best science fiction series ever aired: Battlestar Galactica. I’ve watched the series since it’s sex-laden first season and watched it mature from a bow-chicka-wow-wow drama in space to an intense science fiction drama. The acting is superb, the space effects amazing and the story compelling. So now that the Galactica has finally been laid to rest, in an episode that will be talked about quite a bit, I’d wager; what’s next, Sci-Fi?
Nothing currently on air has a candle’s chance in a hurricane of keeping up with Battlestar Galactica, and that even when you figure in the year long break they were forced to take by the writer’s strike and Sci-Fi’s continually stupid scheduling decisions. Stargate SG-1 is well over. Stargate Atlantis is done, after finally succumbing to Deep Space Nine syndrome. You can’t make a spinoff of a series that gets a part of its magic from going different places every week and have that spin off be completely stationary. It was only after they brought in the Defiant that DS9 became interesting, and it was only after they brought in the Daedalus and occasionally made the city take off that Atlantis picked up. But regardless of how it ended, it’s over.
We’re between whatever meth-induced seizure Sci-Fi calls a “season” for Eureka, which I love. It’s quirky, smart, science-y and nicely geeky… but it’s no Battlestar. We’re also between “seasons” for Dr Who, which I’m not overjoyed about, but at least it’s an enjoyable appetizer, but only if there’s a main course coming up.
Aside from those two bright spots, the current slate of programming is amazingly dismal. Moonlight is so god-awful that it makes good television series in the past suck; its awfulness transcends time and space. This series is great for the idiotic teen Twilight crowd, but for more advanced life-forms, like humans and cats and… well, everything with a brain stem… it’s a life changing experience for the worse. I feel sad when I watch it.
Sanctuary makes me think about cutting myself. At first, despite the silliness of Amanda tapping with a British accent, I gave it a chance. I reasoned: “Star Trek: TNG sucked the first two seasons but by the fifth season it was awesome.” Despite all the horror book and movie histories they were trashing, I thought the series might build up into something more enjoyable. So far the only thing building is my nausea. If I have to wait 5 seasons for this to not suck, I’ll be watching it from a padded room.
And, lastly, while I find a great deal of charm in the B-movie line-up on Saturdays and Sundays, the movies are quickly moving from the “so bad it’s good” region into “so bad I feel like eating glass” territory. The most recent offering, Sea Creature, was so horrifyingly bad I felt like immolating myself. I couldn’t even watch it to laugh at it. Sci Fi has also taken lately to running a lot of horror films. Horror is not science fiction. Ginger Snaps does not belong on the a channel calling it self Sci-Fi.
A quick look ahead at what’s on Sci-Fi’s slate isn’t very encouraging, and the continued slow encroachment of bullshit reality style series like Ghost Hunters makes me very, very worried. The upcoming Caprica prequel to Galactica seems to be more of a plain old fashioned soap opera. We might as well be watching Big Valley re-runs. It’s science fiction, not just fiction and no setting it on another planet doesn’t make it science fiction if you’re telling another vanilla drama.
The only semi-promising news I’ve heard so far is Star Gate Universe. Since the series is still in development, there’s not a whole lot to talk about. Stargate is a great fictional universe and there is a lot of story-telling left to tell. However, I’m worried about two things: 1. the Stargate story hasn’t been told very well as of late and it’s possible the writers have just lost what made the original so great and 2. talk about gearing the new series toward a younger crowd. To be honest, I’m far more worried about the second potential problem. “Younger crowd” invariably means dumber writing and more moody bullshit. I don’t want to see Stargate/Star Trek as performed by emo kids, no matter how cool the effects might be. Hell, Stargate SG1 even made fun of the hipper version of itself concept during one of the Wormhole Extreme episodes.
I’m sure Sci-Fi will throw us a good and interesting mini-series as they usually do. Maybe we’ll get to see Stephenson’s Diamond Age finally make it, though the last rumors of that weren’t promising. But while Tin Man had a certain quirky coolness about it, it didn’t compare to the Dune mini-series, so the current trend is currently towards lower quality rather than better.
I hope the horizon brightens up a bit soon. I do love the idea of a real sci-fi network, especially this day and age where effects are easy to come by letting even independent voices bring great science fiction to the public. For now, though it looks like dark days ahead unless something changes.