J. Michael Stracynski explains why most TV scifi is awful

9 08 2013

Crazy-making? Seriously? And I have to argue with potential employers if my English is good enough to write for them? Anyway, the rest here seems sadly true but in no way surprising. The one hope I do have is that he is wrong about crowdfunding since I suspect that will proof a whole lot of assumptions about what people want wrong.

The problem is that the networks still don’t take SF seriously, or even feel threatened by it. I’ve had executives say that a space-show doesn’t work because people don’t care about what happens to characters in space, it has to be on earth or nobody’ll be interested. I’ve had them say “you can do whatever you want, it’s scifi, it doesn’t have to make sense.” Because it’s SF they always think that somehow or other The Fate Of The World has to be at stake. If you’re doing a drama, no one suggests that solving the relationship problems of the murder has to save the world, but they feel that it has to be that way if you’re writing SF, which is why it’s also so often the rule in SF movies. It’s absolutely crazy-making. 2001, one of the most classic SF motion pictures of all time, could never get made today. Not a chance. Too cerebral, they’d say. Not enough action. All the crowdsourcing in the world won’t rewire the neurons engaged in that kind of thinking.

I keep waiting for a paradigm shift to happen that will let network and studio execs see that SF is the same as any other genre in terms of how you approach it – logically, character based, with challenging ideas and forward thinking – but I worry that it might never happen in my lifetime.

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