Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Sad State of Sci Fi Affairs

I guess it's a sign of audience transition as much as anything, but it's a little sad and a little perplexing to read about ABC's Masters of Science Fiction, an anthology series narrated by Steven Hawking and based on great works of SF.

When I first saw it spotlighted in TV Guide, I assumed it was on The Sci Fi Channel or somewhere on cable.

Apparently the series was developed with an eye toward low-cost Saturday material for ABC. That it was developed at all goes against the current tide, I guess.

Not many people watched the first installment with Sam Waterston from Law and Order, though I've watched both episodes that have aired.

Last Saturday's featured Terry O'Quinn, Locke of Lost as a scientist dealing with an alien mummy that's demanding world peace. It was probably his presence that doubled the ratings between episodes one and two, but apparently only four of six--if that many--episodes will be seen on the network.

Both episodes so far have been cerebral tales, tied to limited sets. You can see the budget showing.

In tone, they remind me a lot of the modern Outer Limits, but any thoughtful and diverse programming is welcome and worthy.

Heinlein's ahead
A Robert Heinlein story is next, and Harlan Ellison is behind the fourth episode, if it turns up. Check it out, and join me in waiting for the DVD which will hopefully bring all six episodes to the forefront.

(No rights to image implied.)


Erik Donald France said...

I saw this one and HATED IT -- I'll take Rod Serling any day. The directing was horrible. The story itself wasn't bad and I agree that anything thoughtful is better than nothing.

Sidney said...

Really, the Terry O'Quinn one, but it had Cigarette Smoking Man as George Bush. :-)

Charles Gramlich said...

I heard of this and was looking forward to it, but then saw nothing else about it. Too bad the one episode was so weak. This is a great idea, and there could be plenty of good tales told with low budgets if they were well acted and directed. I'll have to see if I can catch the next one.

Clifford said...

Yeah, it sounds like a great idea...the kind of stuff that might get me to tune in. But I'll probably have to catch it on DVD. Thanks for reminding me -- I had been told about episode 1 and had planned to end my television fast with episode 2...sure happy there's DVD. What did people do in the days before DVD/Video?

Cordelia said...

I loved the first episode. Sam Waterston was excellent: perhaps people aren't used to the format of "tv theater" anymore, which is why it reminds on of "The Outer Limits:" Epsiode One was like a stage play. I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to more.

Michael K. Willis said...

I'm not sure why ABC is burning these off...Saturday Night at 10 hasn't been "must-see TV" time since Carol Burnett went off the air...but I've enjoyed them for the most part (the Anne Heche episode last week was weak but I have hope for tonight's offering.)

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