That’s it, I’ve given up on Caprica. Several episodes have sat on that box in the front room for a while and I’ve just stopped caring. In theory I should like it, I like the lead actress/cylon, she’s quite interesting and so is her concept. But the rest, it’s just so meh. The Matrix rip off, the olde Worlde family honour, all of that religious numbskullery. It isn’t what I signed up for. BSG was a tour de force. Even the so-so episodes were brilliant by comparison. I’m struggling to find anything that engages me anymore and I know who is to blame. And for once not my ex-girlfriend, who gets the blame for almost everything else in life, bless her. Lost was one of the last programs that kept me hooked, one of the few that I do watch weekly and suffer through the mass of ads. That and BSG had something in common, they came to their natural end. Thank the Gods. Shows that really get me going tend to get cancelled before their time. Pushing Daisies, Sarah Connor, Dark Angel and everything Josh Whedon divines from the heavens. Come on he must get it from somewhere, that or he isn’t human at all. Possibly visited the crossroads and the hidden con turned out to be television executives. Curse ‘em.
I’ve become a new type of viewer, not big on downloads or weekly viewing when a little patience sends the perfectly formed commodity fetishistic DVD or Blu-ray boxset. Boxsets are the new novel, a chapter or two at night and all is well. Although I do miss novels but it is nice to let someone else’s imagination do the work for me. Shows were always given a chance to grow. The UK’s output is a blessing. Being Human and Misfits are just bliss by comparison knowing that they’ll get commissioned for new series as long as they hold up. Misfits if you managed to miss it is brilliant, go buy it now! Some of the best highlights of superhero, comedy drama ever committed to film. Or HD tape, I don’t care which; it ticks the boxes and makes me laugh out loud which is rare. I’ve managed to block the memory of cancelled shows, my imagination can still twist off an ending if a poorly drawn graphic novel doesn’t do it for me.
As we’ve come to the point in communications that we can get shows the same day as the country of origin we’ve finally been cursed with the US schedule and see the mockery of art that TV shows suffer at the hands of folk selling detergent or chilled bubbly soft drinks. It’s no wonder shows don’t get a chance to grow. Futurama is the one show that pushed back and the highlights of the current series make you glad that we can get together and make a difference. Most shows aren’t so lucky. The shows that don’t get cancelled perplex me. What is the appeal about Eureka or spin offs from the Stargate films? It all looks so cheap set in fields or cut and paste sets that I just don’t care about. Look at Serenity, one of the best sets ever created and even without a cast or storyline you’d still be fascinated. There are a few shows that still make me tune in, well record and replay. Smallville has gone from strength to strength. If Pete Ross was never cast in those early series then the whole run would have been a pleasure. For those of you that gave up early the last few series and this, the last, has had some really great Superman moments. That feeling from the movie when Kal caught Lois and the helicopter, ‘Who’s got you?’, it’s the moment we want from out super-powered characters.
It’s also what is missing from many of the shows that don’t get a chance, the big reveal. The Bionic Woman might have still been on air if they showed the little sister who she’d become. Well that and better wire work, and direction. Well, probably a few more things, but I wouldn’t dislike more of Michelle Ryan on the screen in something in which she is more than an East-End scrubber.
There is something in sci-fi that gives us that catharsis of being special. We’re wired in a way that there has to be more than what we have. I’m not suggesting we try getting bitten by radioactive wrigglys or making a suit and cape, but really we have this little inborn feeling that there’s got to be more than this. Even when I saw Superman the Movie at the cinema as a kid my stomach tumbled as he transformed, was complimented and flew up to save Miss Lane. It’s what keeps me watching sci-fi, that big reveal and the if only. Buffy got it right up front and made the show an instant classic and fan favourite. Mind you even Angel got cancelled. At least they managed to finish it. Who got paid to make that decision and are they still working? What a job. Managing to make terrible decisions and keep your career? I don’t even think Cameron will manage that. For all our sakes let’s hope not.
So why does everything I see something in get cancelled? Firefly. Now come on really, someone tell me the reasoning. A lowish budget show, excellent scripting and dialogue. Characters that are iconic dagnabbit. It wasn’t that highbrow. But did require a brain, as did Dollhouse, Sarah Connor and the rest. Just a little out of the ordinary that might require a bit of an intro recap. It’s all about money and keeping eyes on the set and it’s ruining decent TV. How many of us really buy Law and Order or CSI boxsets. They’re fine if you fancy not thinking for a bit but even series one of CSI became repetitive for bringing in new casual viewers. How many ways can they explain how and why they shine an ultraviolet light? I’d like to see a CSI investigate the death of my TV shows. Maybe zoom inside an execs brain and explain how there’s no sound in a vacuum with a really cool CGI graphic.
Going back to Caprica I get why it’s possibly cancelled. I mean it probably is but even writing this I’m not inspired enough to Google it to find out. It didn’t work, shoulda done but didn’t. I’ll give them that one, probably a few more, but how can we get the shows we want without giving them time to blossom and grow? Maybe I’m to blame. Shows I like, I tend to stop watching so that I can gorge on the boxset. Should I leave the TV on even though I’m probably on the internet? Come on, pictures of Felicia Day aren’t going to look at themselves. I am busy, I do work hard and have a lot of things on my plate. But doesn’t that make me the target audience? Shouldn’t their ads be aimed at me? It just gets me talking in circles. There are a few shows that still do it for me. Chuck is a nice light hearted show, a good cast and seems to stave off an inevitable end. Stretching it a bit for this publication but the Big Bang Theory is just pure geek fodder; I get far too many in jokes for my own good. True Blood is excellent television but then thanks to Durham Red I do have a thing for red headed vamps. Yes, evil Willow too. OK, lost my train of thought.
Warehouse 13 falls into a weird category, it’s easy viewing so I don’t mind its problems. I’m not going to buy it or panic if I miss one but if it’s on then I’m all for it. It’s not as interesting as the concept of Wonderfalls, Reaper (which was just coming into its own) or the Lost Room. Ok, if you missed Lost Room you missed out, it’s a great concept. I won’t ruin it for you and I think it only failed because some bright spark put ‘lost’ in the title as we were watching the islanders for the next Star Wars reference. I missed it entirely so it was a welcome Xmas present. Definitely something I return to from time to time.
I suppose we are spared some endings, as much as I’d kill to see how Sarah Connor Chronicles would have ended I can do without the odd Quantum Leap ‘Oh boy, God did it’ conclusion. I’ll stretch to aliens, demons or some random accident but that just seems too easy a cop out. When I was younger I was blissfully unaware things might come to an end. It was a disappointment sure, but most shows ran their course, good or bad. And I suppose I didn’t miss them when they were gone as I do now. I guess as I get older I want something a bit more substantial. What has been the sci-fi highlight of the last ten years? I can always revisit several shows and will upgrade if I can get a bit more detail on the screen to benefit the show that little bit more. But where are we now? Do we as fans really get our money’s worth? Firefly spawned a film which was good news as soon as it was announced. Futurama spawned four films and another series. Not to mention getting commissioned for another after the next thirteen came on air in the States. Are we being heard? SCC didn’t get the film we’d hoped for, it probably bugs me most of all. A deleted scene of Summer Glau armed to the teeth in her underwear would have sufficed but I’d still like to know how they planned to get past that ending. It was a daring finale.
I assume Americans accept the status quo more than we do. We’ve only just caught up to their ways with schedules and the ‘back nine’. And no one is listening to us shout over the Atlantic that we are used to better. OK we seem to be losing main characters from our best output but I’ll still watch the next series of Being Human and Misfits. I'm invested, I relate, I’m intrigued and that’s the nub - we want something from life that these shows give us that few other shows do. Sci-fi is a unique beast. It’s not about lasers, monsters, some kind of anti matter implosion that has reactivated neutrinos from an experiment by an estranged hermit that believed he could bring back 70s cool by wearing Jim Morrison’s leather trousers and chanting some three dimensional monotonic sigil from a book by Aleister Crowley, whilst feeding from an eight hundred year old vampire that accidentally became resurrected by an evil book publisher. It, like most other genres contains a moment of cathartic bliss, a moment that can almost bring tears to the eyes of even those of us that are dead inside. Life is short, it’s fleeting and we know somehow there’s got to be more. So why do our shows end up at the end of some executive’s pen as he crosses off of his Fall schedule? Why has everything that I have enjoyed suddenly disappear or come to its natural conclusion? What do they expect me to do? Write my own script and get that out there? Good point, who do I send that to?
I’m worried and I think it’s Caprica’s fault. It should have been brilliant, it had BSG behind it and should have been a pleasure, not a chore to watch. I’m even angry about the show, sitting here with it unwatched, long deleted off of the machine. And with new shows coming should I really invest myself in them? Cape is starting, that should be right up my alley, but then so should of Ordinary Family and that was so twee it nearly gave me diabetes. Falling Skies too but V was looking to be a decent show as well. I’m not that Trek orientated, the last film was excellent though, it definitely raised the bar. But we do seem to go boldly where no one else goes. We give some real tat a go for the chance of that little feeling inside that just goes ‘yes!’. I still have series four of Heroes yet to see thanks to the BBC subscribing to the US’s hegemonic influence over dodgy scheduling. I didn’t mind series two and three. I watched the first series in one session before it hit these shores on YouTube, so didn’t get caught up in the hype it caused as it came out on TV. I also didn’t agree with the critics that obviously didn’t watch the first series when they compared the latter ones. I found it quite constant aside from the writer’s strike affecting the second outing. It was a bit fun and I hope I’m not wrong in being optimistic that when it finally drops to a decent price that I’ll won’t be disappointed in it. I’m also only on series one of Fringe, which if you managed to get past episode three really took off into a great show. Again I hope for the best.
But that’s the thing; our optimism is a key part of our favoured genre. I’m not alone in being annoyed by my optimism being crushed by advertisers calling the shots. What happened to art and integrity? The first episode of The Walking Dead was a joy in that it was shown unhindered by adverts. That is artistic integrity. I guess we can only hope that our needs will be sated by a new show or three. For now though I think I need to go back to a novel with pages and typeface. House of Leaves has sat on my shelf for too long after being recommended by a friend. Olly in Canterbury Waterstones, go and say hi to him and he’ll probably turn you on to some great graphic novels (then get them online, it’ll be cheaper). His recommendations are usually spot on, maybe I need to ask if he’s heard about any new decent shows. We deserve them. We need them. And we need them to run their course. Let’s hope this summer has a few surprises in store. So say we all?