Leonard Nimoy talked to the press this afternoon about his return to Fringe tomorrow as dimension-hopping mogul William Bell. He was pretty tight-lipped about the show, but did tell us what's wrong with today's science fiction on TV.
Nimoy revealed little about his upcoming Fringe appearance, except to say that we will learn a great deal about Bell's relationship with Agent Olivia Dunham and what Bell's motives are (or at least what he claims his motives are). He did open up, though, when asked about his thoughts on the current state of science fiction in television and film:
Well, I'm concerned about the positioning of story in terms of importance. When I see a lot of explosions, a lot of chases, I'm not terribly impressed. I think there are three terribly important elements that must be given position — priority position — in science fiction as well as in any other kind of drama: the first is story, the second is story, and the third is story. Story, story, story, story, story. If the story is compelling and interesting, I think all the rest will find its place. We have great technology in our industry and that technology can be overused at the expense of story, and that's a problem for me. But when the story is in place, I think the special effects can find their proper place. I think Fringe uses the technology brilliantly, but in the service of excellent storytelling.
He did later go on to say that, while special effects can be a slippery slope, he is impressed at how they actually bolster storytelling:
It's safe to say that what an audience is seeing today on screen in a television episode is far more complex than what we were doing while we were, for example, making the original Star Trek series in the sixties. We were very, very heavy on pages and pages of dialogue and very little special effects. But because the technology has advanced so greatly, it's possible to do some very complex and very exciting and very useful technical stuff on the shows these days. So we don't have to rely quite so much on the story being told by the actors speaking. On the other hand, there's the danger — as I mentioned earlier — in going to far with the special effects at the expense of story. But if the story is well done, if the story's in place strongly, the special effects can be very useful to the actors, far more so than they were years ago when we were making the original Star Trek series.
But when asked which shows he thought balanced storytelling and effects well, he replied (a bit single-mindedly): "Fringe. Fringe. Fringe."