The Golden Age of SF TV

Jun 3, 03:57 by IROSF
Post your thought's on Nader's essay!

The article can be found here.
Jun 3, 10:06 by Daniel M. Kimmel
Excellent and thorough essay.

Instead of nitpicking I'll just offer one correction: the new "X Files" film didn't just start production (although, knowing the IROSF editing process, it may have at the time the essay was written). It will be in theaters in July.
Jun 3, 11:00 by Nader Elhefnawy
Quite right. (I should have added "at the time of writing.") And thank you.
Jun 3, 14:46 by b. lynch black
among other syndicated shows that featured a science fiction and/or fantasy theme is the "Highlander" series, which ran for 6 full seasons and "Kung Fu: The Legend Continues". the one thing that really differentiates syndicated s/f or fantasy from "mainstream" (the Big Four)is that if focuses heavily on characterization and not on plot devices -- which is why these shows tend to build a heavy cult following, as well as inspire scholarly papers.
Jun 3, 18:06 by Nader Elhefnawy
Highlander was a big one. Not just long-running, but it showed up early on, too. ('92 if memory serves.) I didn't think of Kung Fu, which I don't know very well.

Why does that pattern exist, in your view?
Jun 4, 20:52 by D. Nicklin-Dunbar
Thank you for your excellent overview of recent television science fiction. Informative and well written.

I was, however, disappointed to see no mention of Total Recall 2070. While its debut date is 1999, this excellent series deserves recognition. Slick, stylish, intelligent and well acted, Total Recall 2070 is a gem of science fiction television. Imagine the bastard child of Isaac Asimov and Phil K. Dick raised by Raymond Chandler and you are pretty close.

The writers tackled several of Asimov's questions about the nature of artificial intelligence, set in a Dickian conspiracy filled paranoid post-apocalypse. I rank it up with Babylon 5 and the best of Deep Space Nine. Sadly, it has never been released on DVD and is seldom re-broadcast. There are torrents available if piracy is your thing, which is unfortunate, since the creator and his fantastic crew should be paid lots of money for their hard work.

Intelligent science fiction television is hard to come by. Perhaps the future will hold more innovative series with the obvious success that the SciFi Channel has had.
Jun 5, 16:41 by Nader Elhefnawy
Thank you for your kind words. Interesting that you should mention Total Recall 2070--I didn't catch the run on Showtime, but did have the chance to see the pilot on DVD not too long ago (which in case anyone's curious, is probably still available-certainly is from Netflix), and was myself dismayed to see that the releases in the U.S. stopped there.

As to the material itself, I had a similar impression. The noirish aspect of Dick's work was very pronounced, which put me in mind of Blade Runner at times, the writers combining the ideas in Total Recall/"We'll Remember it for You Wholesale" with the ideas in Blade Runner/Electric Sheep with surprisingly good results.
Jun 6, 13:56 by D. Nicklin-Dunbar
You are most welcome. I have done a little more digging and have found that the entire series can be streamed from the Atlantis/Alliance science fiction website as well as Hulu (for those outside of the U.S. you will have to go to Atlantis/Alliance). There was also a single release of the entire series on DVD in Japan and so is extremely rare, but available. Sadly, the only readily available format is to download as a bittorrent from a pirated source.

It is very reminiscent of Blade Runner in set design and heavy on the noir, and as you said, combining the themes of "We'll Remember It For You Wholesale" and DADoES. However, the part I found most Intriguing was not the Dick elements per se but the relationship between the police officer Hume and the android Farve. This, as well as the exploration of the nature of artificial intelligence and its societal consequences, reminded me much more of Asimov's The Caves of Steel (and strangely the action film with Wil Smith based on I, Robot). Since you have only seen the pilot film, rather than the entire series of 21 episodes, this evolving relationship (as well as the various ongoing conspiracies) is the greater part of the show and is not fully elucidated in the original film.

Farve's developement turns on many of the same issues Asimov explored in his earlier Robot books and short stories. The ultimate explanation for Farve's existance is (and I won't spoil it for you) a well known S/F trope and something Asimov himself seemed concerned with for at least part of his career.

While I am not an Asimov fan at all, I found this combination of Asimov and Dick (who I am a fan of) absolutely fascinating. Two more disparate S/F authors, I cannot think of.

One other note about why I enjoyed this series so much is that there are no "throw away" episodes. Each episode, no matter how "episodic" (by which I mean self contained a la Star Trek), contained at least one thread of the larger overall conspiracy. This had the effect of binding the series tightly together in a way that even Babylon 5 could not (not surprising since it went 100+ episodes and so needed "filler" episodes).

It is a great loss to the S/F community that not only did Total Recall 2070 not continue as a series, but that Alliance/Atlantis has never released a full DVD version. If an audience can be found to sell NBC's Earth 2 on DVD, I am convinced one can be found to Total Recall 2070.
   

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