Friday, November 05, 2010

Genre TV Today

I think I finally, finally got the pivotal scene to work and can now move forward. Yay. And I only have to write about 20 pages to get to the length I need for submission, which I can probably do today and tomorrow. Normally, that would be one day's work, but I'm going to a party tonight that requires some cooking in preparation, and then one of my neighbors mentioned coming by this weekend to talk about writing, so I need to do a little house cleaning.

One of the panels I was on at MileHiCon a couple of weeks ago (wow, that long already? It feels like I just got home) was about the current state of genre (science fiction/fantasy) shows on TV, and during the panel, I had the disturbing realization that, thanks to various hiatuses, I'm watching almost nothing genre at the moment. I used to joke that I didn't watch anything that didn't have spaceships or monsters in it.

There's Chuck, which I think falls into the science fiction category with all that Intersect stuff. Plus, it seems to be written with an awareness of genre tropes. And then there's Supernatural. I stretched a bit to include Phineas and Ferb on the Disney Channel because it's clearly written by geeks, plus the idea of two ten-year-old boys and their friends doing stuff in their backyard like building a tower so tall it reaches the moon has to fall into the realm of either science fiction or fantasy.

I'm not currently watching anything on the Sci Fi Channel. I love their summer lineup of Warehouse 13, Eureka and Haven. Their fall/winter lineup hasn't caught my attention. I tried watching Stargate Universe, watched about half a season just to snark about it, and then turned it off in the middle of an episode when I decided that these people were Too Stupid To Live and I didn't want them to live. I only made it through half of the Caprica pilot, and I only made it that far because I liked the music. I keep being told that it got better, but the bits I saw when an episode came on before something else I was going to watch didn't exactly thrill me. I'm not entirely sure why I never tried Sanctuary, but there's something about the promos that makes me cringe badly enough that I never wanted to watch the series. For all I know, I'm missing something great, but if characters and dialogue in the promos are extremely annoying, that's not a good sign.

I tried Fringe but got so bored that I turned it off in the middle of the second episode when I realized I'd lost track of what was going on after I got bored enough that I started sorting my mail. I've tried watching a few episodes of The Vampire Diaries, but it comes across as the kind of overwrought teen soap opera that sets my teeth on edge. I suspect it's also the kind of thing you have to watch from the beginning because I've been completely lost in the episodes I tried, like I needed a scorecard to know who these people were and what their relationships were supposed to be. I watched the first season of True Blood before admitting to myself that I found watching it to be an extremely unpleasant experience.

So I've had to resort to mentally turning other things into genre shows, mostly by deciding which characters are Cylons or Terminators. House is already a science fiction show, just on the basis of the medicine (or maybe it's fantasy, since science fiction is supposed to be based at least loosely on actual science). The new Hawaii Five-O is a lot more fun when you watch with the idea that Kono is a Cylon (naturally) and that Chin is an evil zombie lawyer (as we last saw him on Angel). Then there's my theory that on CSI New York there's a robot police force that allows the same homicide detective to investigate every crime in the entire city, since there's a copy of that particular Cylon model in each precinct. You just think it's the same guy in every episode. On Original Recipe NCIS, Gibbs is clearly a Terminator. I haven't figured out the LA version, especially since they seem to have decided to completely retool the concept and have thrown out the idea of long-term deep cover. They've added the Poochie character, so maybe he really is an alien who will be called back to his home planet soon. And it's possible that Hetty really is Edna Mode from The Incredibles, and the whole NCIS operation is merely her cover for her real work in outfitting superheroes. (They've really genericized that whole series, making it more of a Lite version of the original. Maybe I can hope for another spinoff where we get to see whatever mission they sent Nate the Freakishly Tall Psychologist on, because it's got to be more interesting than stretching jurisdictional boundaries to the breaking point in investigating crimes involving people who once walked past a Navy or Marine recruiting station.)

It's really sad that most of my viewing these days is CBS procedurals, when I used to avoid that kind of thing like the plague. However, most of them, I just watch because they're readily available OnDemand and therefore handy for random times when I'm bored and there's nothing else on or for background noise while I do other stuff. I wouldn't watch most of them if I had to record them or watch them live.

There are a few upcoming series that look interesting. They've just announced yet another Battlestar Galactica prequel, but this one is about the first Cylon war, so it should offer more space battles, fewer bratty teenage girls and longwinded philosophical discussions. They've been talking about that Song of Ice and Fire series on HBO for ages, so maybe it will actually come on one day (I have to admit I've tried several times to read the first book in that series but never managed to get into it. Maybe seeing the TV version will make it easier to get into). And then there will be Christmas episodes of Warehouse 13, Eureka and Doctor Who.

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