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“So long, nerds!” The Network-which-shall-not-be-named flips the bird to science fiction fans May 2, 2010

Posted by ce9999 in Caprica, Stargate: Atlantis, Stargate: Universe, The Sci-Fi Channel, Uncategorized.
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I came across this little item yesterday.  It’s a “must read” for those who enjoy what little quality science fiction programming occurs anymore on the Network-formerly-known-as-the-Sci-Fi-Channel:

So long, nerds!
[The-network-which-shall-not-be-named] doesn’t need you

Particularly worrisome is the news that the best shows on the channel are going to be moved from Friday night to Tuesday night, just so they can put Friday Night Smackdown on Friday night.  Having Caprica and Stargate: Universe on Tuesday is going to suck.

I figure this is the beginning of the end for that network. Or, perhaps more accurately, it’s chapter two or chapter three of the end. Stargate: Universe and Caprica will run their course, probably three seasons each, at which point the powers-that-be at the network will give us a song and dance similar to the cancellation of Stargate: Atlantis, that is, something along the lines of, “we think it would be a great idea to continue this, only as a sequence of individually released DVD movies instead of a weekly series.” Well, have there been any Atlantis movies? No? One is supposedly in the works, but at this point it seems to be entirely vaporware, and it was two years ago already when all of this was announced.

Supposedly they’re having difficulties on the money side of things.  In particular, the unexpected change in relative values of the American and Canadian dollars has made it more expensive to shoot in Canada now than, say, five years ago. Universe, however, is being filmed in Vancouver anyway, as is Caprica, so I am not sure if that argument holds water. [edit: looking back on this, I am no longer sure what my reasoning was for that statement…actually, it sounds as if I may have just been wrong outright…oh well…] Perhaps if they hadn’t made the mistake of canceling Atlantis, it would still be airing just fine and dandy! Ooops!

The thing is, although Atlantis sometimes ventured into the realm of brilliance, on the whole it was a show that never quite lived up to its potential, so I don’t bemoan the loss of it all that much. Mostly I miss David Hewlett’s performances, and I regret that, with its passing, the ratio of quality to crap on the network has gone down once again. Caprica and Universe, on the other hand, are both turning out to be pretty excellent programs.  If, perchance, either one of them was lost just so the network could experiment with new ways to make money, it would be a bitter pill to swallow.  All that would be left of quality science fiction television programming, in that case, would be Doctor Who.

Don’t get me wrong.  The network will still be there.  It will still exist as an entity.  It’ll just be focused on other stuff.   They’ll have to change the name again, too.  Just watch.

The Author Returns January 18, 2010

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I’m going to take another stab at this blog.

Where have I been for the last nine or eleven months?

There’s really too much to explain very well. For the most part, I was spending most of my free time on another interest of mine: photography. I actually have another blog on WordPress now, pertaining largely to photography, although it’s “officially” described (by me) as “a vaguely defined blog.” Originally I just called it “My Pics”, (which is cute enough that I am still tempted to go back to it at times, even if it isn’t accurate anymore). Then I changed it to “ce9999”, figuring I would eventually think of a better name. I never did, so it remains ce9999, named after my WordPress account. Probably what I’ll do is refocus that blog onto general creative and intellectual interests of mine.

I’ve also been watching a lot of TV stuff during my absence. There are a lot of great programs that don’t fit very well into the scope of this blog. Six Feet Under, for instance, was a great show and I rented every season of it from Netflix. I also did that with Deadwood and Rome.

These all happen to be HBO shows, which I seem to be gravitating towards. The lack of censorship in HBO programming is one factor, but the main issue is that, when HBO decides to make an idea into a TV series, they really pull out all the stops. Rome, for instance, was apparently so expensive to produce that even though HBO and the BBC were pooling their resources, they still couldn’t afford to keep it going, regardless of its popularity. The Sci Fi Channel (whose new name I am not willing to use) could use a little bit of that sort of ambition.

In any case, one mistake I tended to make the last time I got into this was to try to cover too many things in individual blog posts. I’m going to avoid that this time. So that’s it for now. Back soon with more! :)

Back July 28, 2008

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Well, I’m back.

What can I say–I didn’t intend to be gone this long, but on the other hand, I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to come back. Some things went pretty wrong a few months ago, and only recently am I starting to feel the creative juices flow again.

My plan to analyze the entire Stargate: SG-1 series is on indefinite hold. In fact, that project may have proven to be too ambitious. It seemed like a great idea, but SG-1 is a HUGE series, and as I got into the process of writing about the episodes in the first season, I found myself not wanting to spend time writing when I could just go ahead and watch the next one. This is commonly known as “lack of self discipline.” I also found myself wanting to delve into more and more detail about each episode, so what started as a general summary of the series was evolving into a full-fledged episode guide, for a series with over 200 episodes. Yikes. So I got farther and farther behind. I even started watching season two, thinking I could get caught up any old time. That was wrong. Before I knew it, I was hopelessly behind. This was also about the time that the new seasons of Battlestar Galactica and Doctor Who were getting into full swing, and the prospect of trying to keep up with both of those shows, plus get caught up on my SG-1 project, it was just too much. So I tabled this whole idea for a while.

In my absence, I ended up skipping the entire fourth season of Doctor Who, which is unfortunate, because there’s a lot that could be said about it. There’s also Battlestar Galactica‘s fourth season. Wow. And that was only half a season. Of course I can always come back to these later. Regarding Galactica, I’ll just say for now that I think the revisioned series is turning out to be the finest program in the history of television. I’m not really qualified to say that, mind you, since there are way too many shows I haven’t seen. But if there’s a show out there that’s as good as this one, I’d sure love to see it. (Ok, one more thing–is it just me, or was there a marked upward jump in the quality of this already-excellent show at the point when Jane Espenson came onboard?)

Today I started work on an article pertaining to Stargate: Atlantis, particularly some of the developments in the new season. The article is going well, although it still needs some polishing up. That should be ready for publication sometime very soon, maybe even tonight.

I am also going to be broadening the focus of this blog a bit. My initial idea was to limit myself to “Television Sci Fi” programming. However, I have to admit, there are some movies I’d like to mention on here from time to time as well. There’s also the question of that “science fiction” parameter, which I wondered out loud about when I first started this blog. There’s some very imaginative work out there that is well worth talking about, but which doesn’t exactly fit into the proper realm of “science fiction” at all. The new theatrical release Hellboy 2 is one example. But there are others, even farther afield than that. Take David Lynch’s masterpiece Mulholland Drive, for instance. In no way could this movie be considered science fiction (unless you have developed an entirely new take on it, in which case, feel free to tell me about it), but it’s certainly imaginative. And I do like that word, “imaginative.” So. “Imaginative fiction” it is. Seems like a good topic for discussion, no? However, the emphasis will still be on science fiction, since that’s really where my heart lies.

Finally, I want to close by posting something which really helped to motivate me to get back on track with this. This is an interview with Wil Wheaton, done at ComicCon. It’s quite interesting. Wheaton is an interesting guy, and he says a thing or two here which I really appreciate, in particular some advice he offers towards the end of the interview, intended for aspiring internet writers. It occurs to me that his advice applies to people with other creative inclinations too. That means me, since I’m also struggling with various photography and music projects, in addition to writing. Anyway, here is the whole thing. Enjoy!

First Entry! March 4, 2008

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Well, here I am, doing my first entry on this blog before I even know for sure what the blog is going to be called, or where it’s going to be hosted. For now, I’m typing this in TextEdit in my Mac, and at the point when I get that other stuff ironed out, I can transfer these initial entries into the real, live, accessible-to-the-world blog.

So, what is this all about. It’s about Science Fiction. I tend to have a bias towards television sci fi these days, although I’m also interested in books and movies. I expect to concentrate on stuff that I’m most interested in, which is what some would call “TV Sci Fi”. Stuff like the Stargates, Farscape, Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who, the various Trek series, and what-not. There are some major series that I have completely missed, such as Babylon 5. I’ll be watching those eventually, and chronicling my experience with them here. I’m also intrigued by the idea of revisiting some of the older, classic TV series, such as Space: 1999, The Twilight Zone, the original Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rodgers in the 25th Century, and others.

There’s also the question of whether something is “sci fi” or not. For instance, I greatly enjoy the series Lost, but is it science fiction? My gut feeling is that somehow it is, even though the specifics have not yet become clear. Another aspect of this question are programs which stretch the definition of sci fi. One criticism I’ve always had towards TV science fiction shows is that their creators will often competely ignore what science fiction really is and so we end up with a show like Buffy the Vampire Slayer included in the sci fi category. For the record, I own all seven seasons of Buffy on DVD, but I would never consider this show, as excellent as it is, to be anything close to science fiction. Joss Whedon, I am sure, knows the difference too—he was responsible for Buffy and Angel, neither of which could be considered sci fi, but take a look at some of his other stuff, such as Firefly, Serenity and the writing credit for Alien: Resurrection, all of which fall pretty firmly in the “SF” category. Whedon knows the difference. Some people (such as a lot of modern book publishers, who feel free to fill up the sci fi shelves with vampire stories) obviously don’t. Even many of the most popular SF series will sometimes break the rules and cross over into the “fantasy” category, or more often just the “bullshit” category. Sometimes it’s good bullshit though. ;)

In any case, since there is not a clear and hard dividing line between “SF” and “not-SF”, it shouldn’t be considered surprising if I sometimes cross the line into other forms of speculative and fantastic fiction.

There will be spoilers here. I’m not going to make any effort to despoilerize things. Sorry. I figure the people who would be most interested in reading this will have already seen virtually all of these programs anyway.

So….without further ado, here goes!