1. Daniel
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    Daniel I'm sure you've heard the rumors. Founder Staff Contributor

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    Why is there not more quality sci-fi tv/movies?

    Discussion in 'Entertainment' started by Daniel, Oct 15, 2013.

    I'm a huge science fiction fan. Its always bugged me that there are seemingly only a handful of good sci-fi films coming out every year. A quality sci-fi tv show? Seems almost unheard of.

    I've watched Battlestar Galactica, Falling Skies, Defiance, Stargate, and while I generally enjoy the stories in these shows, the production budget and acting sometimes leave a lot to be desired.

    I know this is mostly due to low budgets. It seems like most sci-fi television also is just really not-suited for television (or movies) because it's actually dull and there's no momentum building. Or there's terrible, terrible actors.

    What gives? Is this just because there's no enough interest in science fiction?
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Because for every good one there are a zillion crummy ones and it seems like there will never be a good one again.

    My son says Gravity is an excellent film, I've not seen it yet.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I saw Gravity over the weekend. It lived up to the hype. Some elements of the story stretched credibility, but I chalk those up to dramatic license.

    Visually it was stunning and beautiful, and the emotional journey was spot on. I expect to see this film in the Oscar nominations in several categories, possibly including Best Actress.
     
  4. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I saw Gravity today with my 9 year old son. The cinematography was out of this world (I had to use the pun). The acting was very good. But yes, the story stretched credulity, and you have to grant a lot of artistic license. There have been some articles about the physics problems with the premise and some astronauts who talk about the film. But it was worth seeing, especially in 3-D, so getting to the theater, rather than waiting for DVD is important here.

    (For example: http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/mark-kelly-gives-an-astronauts-view-of-gravity/2013/10/11/2b4e5e6c-3286-11e3-9c68-1cf643210300_story.html

    and
    http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/moviesnow/la-et-mn-gravity-astronauts-20131008,0,4127513.story )


    For me, I think the biggest problem with a lot of sci fi is that I need the science to be at least plausible. I like to learn something true while watching a film or reading a book, and to write a story that is realistic and is true to the science takes a lot of work. Some of my favorite sci fi has been written by scientists. That said, however, I have to disclose that I don't read a lot of the genre, and clearly many people, if not the vast majority do not feel the way I do.
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2013
  5. live2write
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    live2write Contributing Member

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    For starters: TV shows survive based upon ratings. Movies make money based upon Box Office Sales and Licensed Merch.

    TV shows are great formats because they tell the story overtime and can explain sub-stories piece by piece. The problem is the demand. Not many people that I know what science fiction television like what you have described. One show that recently ended was "Fringe". Although it was not science fiction when it comes to space ships and phasers, it did have a story that revolved around the "strange" and scientifically challenging ideas. Xfiles I would consider as science fiction only because it was beyond what our capabilities are as a typical human being.

    Movies however are slightly different. You can consider Minority Report Science fiction as well as the Avengers (although Avengers would be classified under superhero). Total Recall, Terminator series, Avatar etc are all science fiction or based upon science fiction.
     
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  6. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Gravity is not in our theaters yet :(

    anyway, i was going to mention demand, but live2write beat me to it. Sci-fi also requires quite a budget, I wager, to look good and credible. Sometimes the stars are aligned right and you get BSG and Firefly, but maybe we don't have good enough sci-fi writers either who'd be able to create yet another amazing show...
     
  7. Daniel
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    Daniel I'm sure you've heard the rumors. Founder Staff Contributor

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    This is always a pet peeve of mine. I'll suspend disbelief when there are humanoid aliens or something's inexplicably talking telepathically. But once you throw out the science it ruins the rest for me. I'm not convinced it's the biggest problem, but maybe.

    Ah hah! Now see, it might be demand, but maybe not many people watch such shows simply because they're not good. Maybe the lack of quality science fiction television isn't because there's a lack of demand, but because the existing shows are that bad for most people. Possible?

    I guess movies are another story. You're right, all those things are considered science fiction, which says that sci-fi movies are actually quite successful. It's the sci-fi tv shows that suck. :(
     
  8. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not all sci-fi is space-based, though. Some very good stories *could* be written and made into movies about, for example, a pandemic virulent disease. There have been some attempts at this, but most of them end up asinine. Stuff written by actual scientists and epidemiologists, though, with speculation about what could possibly happen, is riveting.
     
  9. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    People continue to consume poorly-done science fiction. The message to the people who produce the content is that it sells, and thus more such content is produced.
     
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  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There's also the marketing side of movies and television. High quality science fiction expects the viewer to think. Those who produce entertainment for these media aim for, if not the lowest common denominator, at least the highest population, the passive consumer. So when a show like Stargate: Universe rolls out story lines that don't explain every aspect to a fifth grade intellectual level, they cancel it as too cerebral. They replace it with pseudo-reality TV booga-booga shows like Ghost Hunters, which target the likes of National Enquirer devotees, and mindless crap movies like Sharknado.
     
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  11. ReaperKnight
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    ReaperKnight Member

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    I think it's partially what Cogito said, but also that the movies are almost based on templates, I mean, take Independence Day for example; it had a seemingly impossible goal (killing all the destroyers), then there was a breakthrough (the shields could be disabled), then there was a complication (Russell's missile wouldn't fire) and a sacrifice (Russell performing a kamikaze attack on the destroyer over Area 51) whereas the participants of the team assigned to accomplish the goal survive. Pacific Rim? The goal was to cause the rift to close, the breakthrough was that to close the rift, you needed to destroy the "throat," the complication was that you needed to make the rift think that the Jaeger was actually a Kaiju, the sacrifice was Hansen and Pentecost detonating the nuclear weapon to clear a path for Gipsy Danger (and on a side note, what the bloody hell was that crap about detonating nuclear weapons in an underwater environment within yards of Gipsy Danger, and yet it still survived?) and yet the team sent to accomplish the goal survive.
     
  12. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Speaking of Independence Day, and the "breakthrough," how was it that Jeff Goldblum's computer could even 'talk' to the computer system of the alien ship, much less interface with their network and let him manipulate things?
     
  13. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Yup. A read an article concerning the size of the ships and especially the mothership, that while not technically impossible to create, they were so large as to have mass enough to present gravitational issues, never mind the actual invasion.
     
  14. B93
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    B93 Active Member

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    Inconsistency is what turns me off. You can assume a stardrive or something and have a good story. But when inconsistency raises its ugly head, I'm done.

    My least favorite example is that R2D2 doesn't have text to speech technology, which we've used for quite a while, but he can understand not only commands but conversational language, a technology that still stretches our abilities.

    Another was a movie from some years ago where they learned to record and play back the visuals and sensations in peoples' brains. Okay, that's a good scifi premise and they had lots of dramatic action including recording someone dying of a heart attack. They had a very elaborate high-tech system with a specialized recorder to record the signals. Okay. Then late in the movie they play the signals real-time with full fidelity over a 2400 baud modem. NOoooo!
     
  15. ReaperKnight
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    ReaperKnight Member

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    I would assume that it was due to the fact that they had the craft for a number of years and so its systems were those that were fairly understood.
    I'm going to bet they had anti-gravity on the destroyers and on the mothership.
     
  16. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I'm talking about the actual mass of the ship. In the film, I believe it was quoted as being a quarter the size of our moon. You can't bring an object that massive that far into Earth's gravity well and not cause some serious perturbations. Our orbit around the sun would have been altered and it would have wreaked havoc with the moon's orbit around us.
     
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  17. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I don't think so. They figured out how to penetrate its systems on the fly and logged on with a Macintosh. There was no evidence that they understood much of anything about it beforehand, but instead that Jeff Goldblum's character was figuring it out as he went.
     
  18. graphospasm
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    graphospasm Senior Member

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    THEMS FIGHTIN' WORDS, but in all seriousness that movie isn't nearly as bad as Ghost Shark is shaping up to be.
     
  19. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think since we no longer have Carl Sagan and Arthur C. Clark, media sci fi has gone downhill. Nobody really replaced them, there are some interesting physicists like Prof Brian Cox and others that feature in astrophysics documentaries, but they tend towards explaining simple concepts and current theories to the mass audience, and rarely engage in educated speculation,which is, I find, the best route to quality sci fi. That and media chronically dumbing everything down. These days it's not easy finding quality shows period.
     
  20. redreversed
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    redreversed Active Member

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    I was about to say how wrong this is, surely there are plenty good science fiction movies and shows. But then I realised I couldn't really think of anything recent and good except Dredd.(Which is sci fi but based off a slightly superhero comic so I'm not sure if it counts.) But that movie completely faceplanted the ground in terms of making money. I have not seen Gravity yet, everybody keep praising it so I can't wait.
     
  21. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Do you think it might also be because there is a new kind of stardom and sexy that the field offers? Sagan and Clarke and Azimov never had Discovery Channel or Science Channel when they were young, though Sagan was the one who paved the way to that kind of programming with his monumentally spectacular (for its day) Cosmos that aired on PBS. There had never been anything remotely like it before. Now physicists can hope for guest spots on Big Bang Theory or get gobs of money thrown at them to star on edutainment channel shows. I mean, just look at Michio Kaku! Has the field perhaps changed in the zeitgeist so that the introversion of writing is now the extroversion of Hollywood?
     
  22. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    How could I forget Asimov?! I think you might be onto something there. Our culture is almost completely medialised now, we spend much more time in virtual reality then we did before, and the compulsion to convert anything and everything into a media format, which has only ratings and advertising money as a prerogative, may have diluted the quality a lot.

    It could also have something to do with the explosion of discoveries in physics. In the old guys' time, so much less was known, and now, so much more, but it's still confusing to most. And if you think of something today, safe bet is there's an established theory that already predicted it, which means you have to get it right if you want to write a show about it, and most writers find that prospect daunting. Maybe it is so much harder, for non-physicists, to write good sci fi today than it was 40 years ago?
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2013

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