Futurama   Planet Express Employee Lounge
The Futurama Message Board

Design and Support by Can't get enough Futurama
Help Search Futurama chat Login Register

PEEL - The Futurama Message Board    It's got a TV!    Babylon 5 - the death of US TV sci-fi? « previous next »
Author Topic: Babylon 5 - the death of US TV sci-fi?  (Read 330 times)
Pages: [1] Print
PEE Poll: Babylon 5 - the death of US TV sci-fi?
Yes   -0 (0%)
No   -1 (16.7%)
Meh   -2 (33.3%)
Pat Buchanan   -3 (50%)
Total Voters: 6

PCC Fred

Space Pope
****
« on: 09-24-2002 07:27 »
« Last Edit on: 09-24-2002 07:27 »

This weekend marks the 15th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation.  After a shaky first couple of seasons, it soon mushroomed in popularity, and commercially became the most successful sci-fi of all time.  TV critics attributed much of this success to the fact that TNG was the first TV sci-fi to truly catch on with a mainstream audience.  During the early 1990s, there were several other sci-fi shows - Quantum Leap and the early seasons of X-Files and DS9 - that also had mainstream appeal.

Then in 1994, Babylon 5 started, and after a year or so it became apparent that this was a completely different kind of sci-fi.  Whilst the shows I've mentioned above relied mainly on stand-alone episodes, Babylon 5 had in incredibly sophisitcated and well-structured arc plot, still possibly the best written sci-fi ever.

So why do I think B5 killed US TV sci-fi?  Because it's arc plot got so intense, that by Season 4 it was nearly impossible to watch a single episode as a stand-alone. However because B5's arc was so popular with sci-fi fans, existing sci-fi shows decided to incorporate arc plots, with differing levels of success.  DS9 managed a pretty solid arc plot, but had to clone several B5 elements to do it.  And the X-Files twisted itself so much to try and get it's divergant plot elements to fit into a cohesive arc that it wrecked the show.

At the same time, just about every single sci-fi show from the last five years has included an arc plot.  The problem with these is that whilst the hard core sci-fi fans will religiously watch every episode, and rewatch and rewatch them until they figure out how every small plot detail fits into the bigger picture, the mainstream audience, who probably won't watch every episode, will have a tough time figuring out what's going on.  Therefore they'll turn away from these shows, and because TV execs don't look any further than the Nielsen ratings, shows that don't get big ratings will be axed.

This year has seen a number of casualties - The X-Files, Roswell High, The Lone Gunmen and Farscape, whilst Angel barely escaped the axe.  With Buffy and Stargate SG1 apparently finishing next year, and very few new shows on the horizon, you've got to ask where TV sci-fi goes from here.

Aleel

Starship Captain
****
« Reply #1 on: 09-24-2002 07:44 »

What's wrong with B5, love? I haven't watched it myself, but many of my friends like it... *shrugs*
TSN-Bot
Bending Unit
***
« Reply #2 on: 09-24-2002 07:51 »

i voted for the comedy option, since i don't watch babylon 5, and i only read the last paragraph of what you typed.

since when did angel 'barely escape the axe'? i thought that show was pretty popular.
MuscaDomestica

Professor
*
« Reply #3 on: 09-24-2002 08:09 »

So you say by the shows getting better it has ruined Science fiction... ok...

Actually even if the shows were stand alone episodes they still would be canceled as fast, just now the shows have deeper meanings and more interesting and developed characters. I honestly do not believe B5 was responceable for what happened to the X-files. Lone Gunman got the Ax so quickly that it didn't matter that it had a plot. Roswell was more of a Teen Drama/soap opera they always had plots. Farscape got caneled for some insane reason, anyways the show's format was closer to the X-files then B-5. Never watched Angel, Buffy or Stargate so I can not comment on those series.
Tweek

UberMod
DOOP Secretary
*
« Reply #4 on: 09-24-2002 10:24 »

No, B5 was a great series but I don't think it can be blamed for the death of US sci-fi, some series have died, others have started, I think that would have happened anyway.
PCC Fred

Space Pope
****
« Reply #5 on: 09-24-2002 12:45 »
« Last Edit on: 09-24-2002 12:45 »

   
Quote
Originally posted by MuscaDomestica:
So you say by the shows getting better it has ruined Science fiction... ok...

Actually I didn't say that.  Besides, is an arc-plot show neccessarily better than a show of stand alone episodes?

Take Buffy for example.  Almost every episode for the last three years has started with those infamous words "Previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer" followed by a bunch of disjointed clips from previous episodes, some of which go back a year or two.  Unless you've been following the series fairly closely you won't know when this clips are from, or how they relate to the story's big picture.

I missed a couple of episodes of Season 6, when I started watching again I didn't have a clue what was going on, and the clips at the beginning were little help.

I'm not saying every sci-fi should have a STar Trek: Voyager style reset button, where everything's back to normal by the end of the episode, but I do think that an individual episode of a show should be watchable without having to watch several other episodes to put it into context.

~FazeShift~

Moderator
DOOP Ubersecretary
**
« Reply #6 on: 09-24-2002 14:50 »

Did I see boobies on B5 once? Idunno, it was some sci-fi anyway, coulda been Outer Limits or something.

I like Stargate, I'm a Gater.
w00t, new series tomorroooooooooowwww!!!!!!

(what does "w00t" mean??)

"Live forever or die trying."
Kryten

Space Pope
****
« Reply #7 on: 09-24-2002 15:18 »

"w00t" is one of those annoying 1337 words that piss me off.
homerjaysimpson

Space Pope
****
« Reply #8 on: 09-24-2002 15:28 »

Go Pat Buchanan!
Tweek

UberMod
DOOP Secretary
*
« Reply #9 on: 09-24-2002 15:58 »

 
Quote
Originally posted by ~FazeShift~:
Did I see boobies on B5 once? Idunno, it was some sci-fi anyway, coulda been Outer Limits or something.


Don't think it was B5, could have been Outer Limits though, or Lexx, they both featured them   tongue  wink
Teral

Helpy McHelphelp
DOOP Secretary
*
« Reply #10 on: 09-24-2002 16:27 »

 
Quote
Originally posted by PCC Fred:
During the early 1990s, there were several other sci-fi shows - Quantum Leap and the early seasons of X-Files and DS9 - that also had mainstream appeal.

While it may have had mainstream appeal it was when it tried to be mainstream DS9 really produced crap episodes, like "The Emperors New Cloak", "He Who Is Wothout Sin.." and the completely awful, unredemable, worst Trek episode ever "Profit & Lace". When it followed the more or less lose plot-archs and developed it's characters the result was captivating and brilliant.

But back to Babylon 5. I've only seen a few scenes taken out of context, but it looked cool. From what I've heard it's a very good show, and very sci-fi. Most DS9-fans seem to like it.

I don't think Babylon 5 killed any show. Shows fail when they forget about their own plot and original premise, and tries to be something they're not. X-files is a good example. At first it was a collection of episodes about weird things, with a few connecting into a larger conspiracy. Worked well, and I looked forward to the "conspiracy-episodes" as icing on the cake. The show was good by itself, but a running theme in some shows gave it that little extra. When it tried to make everything part of the Big Conspiracy"tm they betrayed their own premise nad suffered for it. For the record, my favorite X-files episode was one, were Mulder, not Scully, used his FBI training to catch a psychopatic killer. Nothing weird, fancy stuff, but an episode that showed Mulder as an effecient agent, using investigation techniques, psycological profiling and the resources of FBI to solve a case.

Another show that betrayed it's own premise was "Voyager" and it failed miserably as a consequence.
PCC Fred

Space Pope
****
« Reply #11 on: 09-24-2002 18:14 »

 
Quote
Originally posted by Teral:
 When it [DS9] followed the more or less lose plot-archs and developed it's characters the result was captivating and brilliant.

But back to Babylon 5. I've only seen a few scenes taken out of context, but it looked cool. From what I've heard it's a very good show, and very sci-fi. Most DS9-fans seem to like it.

I don't think Babylon 5 killed any show. Shows fail when they forget about their own plot and original premise, and tries to be something they're not. X-files is a good example. At first it was a collection of episodes about weird things, with a few connecting into a larger conspiracy. Worked well, and I looked forward to the "conspiracy-episodes" as icing on the cake. The show was good by itself, but a running theme in some shows gave it that little extra. When it tried to make everything part of the Big Conspiracy"tm they betrayed their own premise nad suffered for it.

That's my point.  What I'm saying is that after B5, the writers/producers of shows like DS9 and the X-Files thought "Ooh, arc plots look cool, let's use them".

DS9 got it right, but they copied bits of B5 to do it.  The X-Files, which originally was a very good show, got so convoluted it finished up as shite.  Another example is Voyager.  Who remembers that stupid "Paris betrays Voyager" arc in Season 2?  It was just a bunch of scenes of Paris acting out tagged on to completely unrelated episodes.

Now don't get me wrong, an arc plot, done right, makes a series truly exceptional.  JM Straczynski did it with B5, and Joss Whedon did it with Buffy, and to a lesser extent Angel.

But now, every time a new sci-fi show starts, the writers think it'd be cool to insert a plot arc, without giving enough thought as to how to do a decent job of it.  So they either end up like the X-Files, where the series degenerates into a mess, or Twin Peaks, where if you miss five minutes of an episode you're screwed for the rest of the season.  Either way, although all sci-fi shows build up their hard-core audience, most people steer clear, and like I said in an earlier post, the show gets low ratings and is axed.
TSN-Bot
Bending Unit
***
« Reply #12 on: 09-24-2002 22:20 »

Stargate SG-1 don't ever have a story arc throughout the season, they're all "Monster-of-the-week" type episodes, except with continuity.

Does that have anything to do with what you're talking about?
Just Chris

Urban Legend
***
« Reply #13 on: 09-24-2002 22:53 »
« Last Edit on: 09-24-2002 22:53 »

The ballot was confusing.
:: Does a Curly "w00t w00t w00t w00t w00t" while spinning on the floor::
FishyJoe

Honorary German
Urban Legend
***
« Reply #14 on: 09-25-2002 15:23 »

 
Quote
By PCC Fred:
That's my point. What I'm saying is that after B5, the writers/producers of shows like DS9 and the X-Files thought "Ooh, arc plots look cool, let's use them".

I don't know about that. I never watched DS9, but The X-files still had a lot of stand-alone episodes in its later seasons. They just weren't very good.
~FazeShift~

Moderator
DOOP Ubersecretary
**
« Reply #15 on: 09-27-2002 15:50 »

 
Quote
Originally posted by TSN-Bot:
Stargate SG-1 don't ever have a story arc throughout the season, they're all "Monster-of-the-week" type episodes, except with continuity.

What you mean?

"Live forever or die trying."
PCC Fred

Space Pope
****
« Reply #16 on: 10-10-2002 06:03 »

 
Quote
Originally posted by PCC Fred on September 24th:
...just about every single sci-fi show from the last five years has included an arc plot.  The problem with these is that whilst the hard core sci-fi fans will religiously watch every episode, and rewatch and rewatch them until they figure out how every small plot detail fits into the bigger picture, the mainstream audience, who probably won't watch every episode, will have a tough time figuring out what's going on.  Therefore they'll turn away from these shows, and because TV execs don't look any further than the Nielsen ratings, shows that don't get big ratings will be axed.

 
Quote
Quote from SFX magazine, October 10th:
So who killed Farscape?  The real answer is... You.  The viewing public.  The truth is that not enough people were watching this excellent show.  Although Farscape had plenty of faithful adherents, its dense plotting and arc-heavy episodes kept it from breaking away from its core audience.  High production costs and relatively low audience figures meant it had to go.
TSN-Bot
Bending Unit
***
« Reply #17 on: 10-11-2002 10:13 »
« Last Edit on: 10-11-2002 10:13 »

 
Quote
Originally posted by ~FazeShift~:
 What you mean?

i mean that they dont really have a story arc for the whole season
not sure what i meant by the continuity part :\ ..did i even post that, it doesnt sound like me

and i prefer the stand-alone x-files episodes. like that one where mulder meets nazis or something, i liked that one, but read that most of the fans hated it.

also, what the hell is farscape about. that show just confused me the few times i saw it.
PCC Fred

Space Pope
****
« Reply #18 on: 10-11-2002 10:41 »

 
Quote
Originally posted by TSN-Bot:also, what the hell is farscape about. that show just confused me the few times i saw it.

Unless I've got this way out of context, I think it endorses my point about story arcs and viewers.
Lurrr

Professor
*
« Reply #19 on: 06-07-2004 18:50 »

*bumpety-bump*

While seacrhing around, I came across this old thread and my interest was piqued. It's been a couple of years since this thread was started and let's see what's changed: Angel is cancelled, Buffy and the X-Files have finished, and Farscape has a miniseries in production but after that it is doubtful it will come back. As far as I can see, only Star Trek: Enterprise and Stargate (if that is still going) actually represent TV sci-fi today. And no matter what people tell me about Enterprise, nothing will convice me that it's worth watching yet another Star Trek moneyspinner spin off.

So as far as I'm concerned, TV sci-fi is dead. Do I think B5 killed it? Not exactly. Sci-fi has always been about breaking new boundaries and trying something different. Star Trek:TNG brought sci-fi into the nineties and B5 introduced the arc-plot. But while we had shows that were becoming more creative (Farscape, and to a lesser extent Buffy and Angel) we had shows that were stagnating by taking elements such as the arc-plot and adapting it for a mainstream audience. And funnily enough, those shows that were trying something different got cancelled quite early on while the more mainstream ones were stretched as far as they could go.

IMO, the arc-plot was only part of sci-fi's demise. As the shows have become more creative, TV in general has become less embracing of this and it's meant that the majority of audiences are no longer interested in creative programming. It doesn't help that sci-fi is not well-promoted, or given nearly as much attention as reality TV and soap operas *spit*. And obviously, the more creative a show gets the more it will alienate it's audience. With crap out there that's much easier to watch, why watch something that I will have to watch again to understand better? Obviously we will point out that you can re-watch these shows and never get bored of them, or that great quality television has meanings beneath the surface too but the average Joe doesn't want this. Give him quick, cheap thrills and he'll be happy.
Pages: [1] Print 
« previous next »
Jump to:  

Powered by SMF | SMF © 2006, Simple Machines | some icons from famfamfam
Legal Notice & Disclaimer: "Futurama" TM and copyright FOX, its related entities and the Curiosity Company. All rights reserved. Any reproduction, duplication or distribution of these materials in any form is expressly prohibited. As a fan site, this Futurama forum, its operators, and any content on the site relating to "Futurama" are not explicitely authorized by Fox or the Curiosity Company.
Page created in 0.181 seconds with 20 queries.