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September 28 2010

How Sci-Fi and Action Genres Have Changed Over the Years. An interesting look at how the relationship between action and ideology in sci-fi television has shifted over the years.

This doesn't really match what I remember of these series. Or of Kirk fighting space monsters like the space opera hero that he is.
I pretty much agree with all of that. I'm not sure if I think that's a good thing or a bad thing. But I do tend to like sci-fi that's smartly written and not all action.

Also, I loathe procedurals. In my opinion, there's far too many of them being made.
Star Trek used phasers, while Firefly used modified-six shooters. I see no difference between the action. It's still someone shooting at someone else.

[ edited by Kaan on 2010-09-29 05:48 ]
No, not really the most salient points about the differences. I think the fundamental difference in science fiction today as opposed to 20 years ago is that largely stand-alone is almost completely not tolerated in science fiction these days.

The main aesthetic difference is just the more versatile use of the camera. So that might lend itself to the "action" theory, only it's not on screen action we're talking about. We're really talking about a more kinetic presentation.

Although in fairness, the Star Trek standard for fighting is rather iffy since the entire point of that universe is... you know... humanity evolves just a little bit more communally. Something that constant in-fighting would have undercut as a premise.

Most other things are roughly similar. Even Firefly has it's ideological speechification. Its just quirkier.

[ edited by azzers on 2010-09-29 06:53 ]

[ edited by azzers on 2010-09-29 06:59 ]
I'm rewatching TOS--well, to be totally honest, I've never actually watched every episode in order before--with my kids, and here's my thoughts on fighting in Star Trek:

1) There is quite a bit of it.
2) The fisticuffs are hopelessly hokey, realizing that this is before the Martial Arts invasion and that this is really a product of its time.
3) The special effects update in the digital upgrade has improved the beam weapons effects some... but it's still a bunch of shooting from the hip. Much like police shows from the era, no one takes an effective grip or uses the sights.
4) For a show that's widely viewed as progressive, the protagonists are entirely willing to open fire with a lack of restraint that is inconsistent with the collective memory of its relative pacifism.
Re: #4

But is it viewed as progressive because fighting isn't included, or is it viewed as progressive because of the ideas it contains expressed or implied?

[ edited by azzers on 2010-09-29 07:22 ]
I'd like to point out that the article cites Star Trek The Next Generation and not TOS. Two very different shows. It's not only because the mainstream public probably knows Kirk&Spock better than Picard&co that Abrams went for an updated version of TOS instead of TNG for his super-actiony Trek. Kirk was an action hero, although a smart one that could talk computers into committing suicide and save the explosives(old Kirk, anyway).

Though Picard has his share of action oriented plots long before the movies, especially from s3 onward. Even his own version of Die Hard (Starship Mine).
[deleted a rant I couldn't be bothered with anymore. Nothing to see here. Move it along.]

[ edited by Kaan on 2010-09-29 09:01 ]
That was a surprisingly short article, I thought they were going to investigate this a bit more in depth. I think it is kind of true but then I don't watch that many current sci-fi shows. I guess the show makers are trying to broaden their audience, or at least they think no-one will watch unless there's some exciting action going on cus we all have short attention spans now apparently.

TNG may have had phasers and the occasional fisticuffs/spaceship battles but the style and feel of any action or violence on that show is of a very different kind to that in something like BSG. Hell maybe its just better effects, bigger budgets and more complex characterisation. I like it though.
I think its conclusion really jumps out of no-where. HBO are going back to their gangster routes, and Game of Thrones is more Deadwood than it is True Blood. HBO lost its way for a few years, but it wants to get back to it hard. AMC just go for good TV, plain and simple - and The Walking Dead is that.

I think, what we are seeing, is that there's just a lot more science-fiction/fantasy around today than there was. People cite Star Trek... and what else? The world was full of westerns. When there's more shows and stories, there's going to be more quality (and more crap) than before.
Not sure I agree, Jaymii, at least with regard to HBO. IN general, HBO does take chances; for example, a third season of the superb but generally unwatched In Treatment will begin next month.

I also don't know that I agree with the article, but that's fine as it is short and not all that well supported. I would agree that action should grow out of the characters, not of the story needs.
HBO still does terrific shows, but some of them aren't really "on-brand" as they could be. Boardwalk Empire is more of a natural fit for the network than say... Big Love. Is all I was saying. They want their Emmys back.
Jaymii, since you brought up AMC, I'd like to point out that just within the last couple months I stated right here on this board that I didn't think AMC was the place for a Whedon show. Then a couple/few days ago I watched The Walking Dead trailer. I'm not a fan of zombies but I can't wait to see this new show!!!

You are so right on. AMC is just putting out good TV. I hope like crazy The Walking Dead is successful. AMC might very well be a good home for Whedon. After all, they are cranking out quality work at a very steady clip these days! I rarely go for straight drama but now totally worship Breaking Bad.

AMC, you ROCK!
Jaymii, off the top of my head I would include the following shows in the Star Trek pile: Quantum Leap, Babylon 5, The Prisoner, Buck Rogers, The X-Files, The Twilight Zone, Sliders, DS9, Outer Limits, Doctor Who. All sci-fi shows that had action and violence in at some point but never felt like the kind of 'action sci-fi' the article seems to be talking about. I mean even something like Space: Above and Beyond wasn't that action-y when it came down to it. Lot of sitting around talking I seem to recall.
AMC, you ROCK!
WhoIsOmega? | September 29, 13:19 CET

I agree. I'm now totally hooked on Rubicon. I haven't seen The Walking Dead trailer and I'm not a fan of zombies either, but I'm so impressed with the quality of AMC's shows, I'll definitely give it a try.
"When" Joss comes back to TV (I refuse to think of it as being in question), AMC would be my network of choice. They've proven their commitment not only to quality, but to the quirky, as well.

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