Radu Luchian(ov): Pastime: Commentary
TV

TV is dumbing down. So what else is new?

I sent this as an opinion email message to Ottawa Citizen and Chum Television. It will be formatted better later.

Canadian shows like those under the GetSetForLife innitiative put to shame grown-up entertainment, especially the kind that comes from south of the border. Bombarded with so-called entertainment like 'reality' shows and laugh-your-bottom-at-the-poor-hapless-[homosex-]folk, the only refuge for intellectual entertainment I could find was in the few good sci-fi shows still aired. First time I saw the ad for a Bell ExpressVu dish and receiver, I bought one for the sake of Space, The Imagination Station and few other channels which broadcast such shows. And guess what? Last year:
- the US Sci-Fi channel discontinued the witty Invisible Man;
- Sci-Fi channel also cancelled Farscape the most innovative, witty, consistent, persistent, and well acted show since StarTrek and left us with a cliffhanger en lieu of a fifth season;
(see http://www.watchfarscape.com/news/releases.php for details)
- Fox channel butchered, then cancelled Firefly which is intricate, inspired, well acted;
(see http://solohq.com/Articles/Bushnell/Firefly.shtml for details)
- Showtime cancelled Odyssey 5, which is ingenious, well-informed, fast-paced, well-acted, POPULAR!!
(see http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20021219/tv_nm/television_showtime_dc_1 for details)
The last three cancellations are pure acts of evil done by bean-counters. Who cares how much a show costs when it results in pure artistic force? In ten years who's going to check the bills of the companies? All that will be left will be the products, good or bad. Let's not take example from the authoritarian, so-called-communist regimes who preferred quantity over quality.

Most of the remaining shows are either dark and foreboding like most of the TwilightZone, OuterLimits, PsiFactor, Dead Zone (this is not a complaint! dark sci-fi is better than no sci-fi), or badly acted like Starhunter (also discontinued). It looks like someone is trying to scare Mr. Average Joe out of the minimal support that a few of Earth's countries give to the space exploration efforts.

In fact, I'm writing this message after being frustrated by tonight's Space movie (In the Dead of Space, 1997). The few good ideas and intentions of the writer have been drowned in the poor acting, excess violence, and poor plot development. This kind of darkly absconse criticism of the politics behind possible accidents in space was horribly insensitive, especially shown so soon after the too real catastrophe of the space shuttle.

In the same vein, while I'm happy that good comic book themes are little by little encompassing more media, the X-Men TV series took a very violent turn from the beginning of the series and just like most martial arts movies out there, promotes violence and does a general disservice to the real martial arts. Of course, the western emphasis on the 'martial' in the arts of movement is mistaken, like most western interpretations of the eastern philosophies. 'Martial' arts are in fact about balance, health and self-defense, and wherever it is discussed, even the offensive is analized in defensive terms. Do we really think that schoolyard bullies and rape gangs need that kind of reinforcement? X-Men writers and directors should go back to the comics and bring back the emphasis on plot and character development rather than endless fights, no matter how many special effects they use and how good they are. It's a shame to waste the rather good acting of the cast on such nonsense.

Lexx got slowly turned from excellent mood and potential to meaningless satire.

Earth:Final Conflict started with beautiful fx, good cast and bright outlook, only to dwindle in the dark mood of the last season as a poor attempt at bringing a couple of super-heroines to life. Strangely, that trend tends to spread to other series lately. Um... Buffy and the senior gang in the sixth season, half of Angel's cast qualify for that too.

The only good, hopeful shows left running are Andromeda, Enterprise, Smallville, bits and pieces of Stargate and reruns of the venerable four previous StarTrek series.

If someone touches these shows too with the big Cancel finger, I'll have to sell my TV set as spare parts and use my ExpressVu dish as a birdbath. Probably TV execs have invested heavily in book production and they're trying to get us to lay off the unhealthy TV experience...

Frustrated in Ottawa,
MoonSteer

Reaction to http://www.synthscribe.com/article_4.shtml
1. Yes, true, there are problems with the science&technology background of the series. However, this is sci-fi, not actual science.
2. What Corey Fisk calls mishmash, I call Art. Did you ever eat mishmash, Corey? Do you know how yummy it is?
3. No chemistry among the cast? Where do you live that you're so blind, in a pheromone factory?
4. I'm willing to bet that it's ironic articles like this one that got the series cancelled. SHAME ON YOU!


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