Illustration for article titled Whats Wrong With Science Fiction TV?

Entertainment Weekly is asking why we don't want science fiction on our televisions, citing at-risk shows like Dollhouse, Terminator and Chuck as proof. But I can't help but wonder if they're asking the wrong question.


The article over at EW's PopCandy blog, wonders why SFTV fails to draw a large audience when SF movies do so well:

What is it about science fiction that home viewers are turned off by? It can't be the genre itself: If you look at the top 10 grossing movies of all time, six of them are sci-fi (and the others have pirates, hobbits, and ogres...and, yes, a boat). Clearly, the American public loves their science fiction...why don't they want it on a regular basis, piped into their living rooms, for free?


The problem, I think, isn't with the cost of SFTV or SF movies, but the scale. Mainstream audiences aren't going to see Transformers or Star Trek because they're SF, they're going to see them for the special effects and giant explosions - and, often, big-name, familiar actors - that they offer. It's almost accidental that they're science fiction at all (And I say "almost" because, I think, science fiction offers the possibility for such explosions and special effects much more readily than other genres). Television science fiction, meanwhile, tends to concentrate on much smaller, more cerebral stories - through necessity of budget, as much as anything else - and those are the types of SF movies that fail at the box office (See Solaris, Sunshine). If there was a TV show that left its brains at home - or, at least, far in the background - and offered up fast-moving, special-effects-laden action on a reliable weekly basis (Like, say, the first season of Heroes, although I may be stretching with "reliable" and "action" there), then I'm convinced it'd be a massive hit... especially if you could find some fading A-list actor to headline it.

But what do you think? Is science fiction television doomed? And if so, why?

The Great Sci-Fi Divide: Why don't we want science fiction on TV? []

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