the only good sci-fi show I've seen is Sarah Conner Chronicles.
Of course, the opportunities for this are not always utilized, in fact, most often not, in plot-driven television, which I'm afraid comprises the majority of televised sci-fi, and certainly soap opera (Let me here exempt the latest incarnation of "Battlestar Galactica," only the first season of Chris Carter's long dead "Millennium," the original "Star Trek" and the first couple of "Star Trek" films). I read some of your other interviews in preparation for this one, and I can't remember if it was Joe Straczynski or John Varley who was, to some extent, lamenting the nature of plot-driven as opposed to character-driven TV, but I could certainly relate. It's one of the most prominent places in this business where creative integrity is regularly eviscerated on the alter of the business model.
Speaking of... I've just gotta stop here to note that I very recently watched the DVD of Danny Boyle's film, "Sunshine." Okay, so here we have a group of astronauts from Earth on a mission to the Sun, because the Sun is dying, and they've gotta drop some sort of nuclear device into it in order to bring it back to life so that it can continue to serve as life-giver to the Earth. It's already far too much science-fantasy for my taste, but I'm with it, because here's the thing: They're flying behind this huge umbrella-like shield to protect them from the killer force of infinitely intense solar heat and power. Any course deviation from the nose of the vessel first, and their back end is exposed unless properly compensated for, and from the very beginning they've shown how the Sun's rays will vaporize anything that is exposed to it in a nano-second. Well, of course, they are compelled to deviate from their course to answer a distress signal, and the navigator does not feed the data to the ship's computer in a way that changes the vessel's trajectory with sufficient compensation for the rear, exposing it to the Sun as it begins to peak from behind the protection of the shielding umbrella. The first thing to go is a rotating radio antenna, that terminates their communication link with Earth. And on and on... Fantasy notwithstanding, I was hooked. I'm thinking, "You've got the perfect built-in villain. You've got to get very close to the Sun, and the Sun don't play! What sort of things do you have to do to deal with this deadly enemy in order to get to it, get back home, and make it your friend again? You don't need any more jeopardy than that to build a truly compelling adventure story." But, of course, in a textbook case of formulaic, Hollywood, plot-driven bullshit, some studio exec must not have felt that the science within the fantasy was going to be interesting enough to the target audience. The next thing I know, there's some creature on-board ship messing with them. As if they don't have plenty of nearly plausible problems already, right? And he's like some guy who's been out there exposed to radiation too long and he's ugly and pissed off, but his prosthetics are bad, so they can only really show him in quick jump-cuts. So it becomes this story of this thing chasing these poor slobs around the ship which, ya know, you could have done in some house on Earth and saved yourself the FX budget. They had me at "Hello," and then... Plot-driven vehicles, and creativity by committee. Forgetaboutit!! Okay, another tangent. Sorry. Thanks for letting me rant.
Window of Opportunity
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