What’s In Store For SciFi On TV?

I wonder what’s in store for Science Fiction tv series. I believe it will always survive & thrive on the big screen but on tv it’s a different thing altogether. Look at all the scifi franchises that are struggling and all the good shows that have been cancelled.

I will start off with my fav Star Trek – not much to say here. The last we saw anything from Star Trek was when the series finale of Star Trek : Enterprise was aired back in 2004. Luckily the show creators knew in advance that they weren’t going to get a 5th season and they wound things up, giving the series an ending (as bad & unsatisfactory an ending it was). Since then Trek has had a resurgence thanks to 2009’s alternate timeline Kirk, Spock & McCoy era movie, simply titled Star Trek. We will have a sequel in 2013. But what we fans really want is a proper series, in the proper timeline.

Stargate : – Originating with a really good movie in 1994, Stargate launched their tv franchise with a movie length pilot and created an almost legendary series in Stargate SG1. It lasted for 10 season and had 2 live action spinoffs and 1 short lived animated series. While the animated Infinity wasn’t well received, the same couldn’t be said about Stargate Atlantis or Stargate Universe. Much more fast paced than it’s predecessor, Atlantis had a great lead villain race and some cool elements not to mention great chemistry among the cast. However the show was getting cancelled but luckily the makers were able to provide some closure (sort of but it’s better than being left on a cliffhanger). That paved the way for Stargate Universe, a dark, deary and very serious show with a great ensemble cast and great characters. It wasn’t enough. Universe got cancelled after 2 shows and we will never know what happens to the crew of scientists & military personnel lost on an ancient ship. I cursed every one at the network when the cancellation was announced and I still curse them.

Despite the runaway success of Battlestar Galactica aka the rebooted version, their prequel series Caprica didn’t not fare as well. Set 58 years before the events of BSG, Caprica was based mainly on land, in a city that looked way too much like Vancouver, featured way too much drama that it almost became like a soap opera with some special effects. As a concept I liked the show and was hoping that we’d see more action. The series came with a bang (literally, there was a terrorist bomb on a futuristic train) but ended with a “phzzzut”. The series ended with just 18 episodes aired but due to a funny & erratic broadcasting and production schedule due to the 2010 Winter Olympics, they were able to wrap up the show by showing us what they wanted to. And soon a new show was announced,¬† a second spin-off series, Blood & Chrome, set 40 years before the events of BSG, during the Cylon-Humans war and revolving around a young William Adama who has just joined the battle and reporting to a new battlestar for duty – the Galatica. Initially envisioned as as web series, the show was greenlight for a full series and now it is not! Syfy channel has decided not to pursue the series to be shown on tv but is planning to¬† promote it on the web as a digital series. The 90-minute pilot movie will air on Syfy¬†in its entirety at a future date. The producers of the show may still shop the project to other networks. All this back and forth has not diminished the appetites of the fans for a space saga – which leaves me wondering just what the hell does Syfy want? A reality tv series?

V – a huge staple of my childhood back in the 1980s growing up in Kuwait, was cancelled during a cliffhanger. That was the original series. A new series was announced and launched in 2009, with a new sleeker look and some changes made in the reboot. It didn’t really work. The show wasn’t very exciting or engaging but towards the end of it’s short run it did pick up. I was sad but not surprised to see it being cancelled, ironically on an even bigger cliffhanger than the original series. We then had Terra Nova – backed up the mighty Steven Spielberg himself, who is attached as an Executive Producer of the show. We had the time travel element, people going back in time to start life all over again, dinosaurs, gadgets – they could not save Terra Nova from being cancelled. To tell you the truth, the show was becoming rather family oriented and not really science fiction enough but it had potential.

When you look at it, a lot of good science fiction series gets cancelled. The original Star Wars, the original BSG, V, Firefly (ask anyone who has seen this show and they will tell you it is one of the best shows they have ever seen) – the list is endless. The networks wants reality tv crap. Remember how the old music tv channels stop showing music videos and show crappy reality tv shows with idiots doing stupid stunts? That’s what SyFy, the ironically named network channel, is headed for. Meanwhile us true scifi fans have to depend on our dvds, blu rays and watching the old shows online. We need a good shake up of things. A really good scifi series or two¬† to crack things up again. Help us!

Jurassic Park Trilogy

Who doesn’t love dinosaurs? Anyone? Remember back in 1993 when Steven Spielberg unleashed his magnum opus to the entire movie going world – Jurassic Park. I remember the excitement of watching this movie when I was 16 almost 17 years old, watching it in a theater that they had renovated for Surround sound and new seats in anticipation for this movie alone! And ofcourse the theatre owners would get much more than their money’s worth as Jurassic Park ran for a few months with many people coming in for repeated viewings. It was also one of the few English language movies that we saw whole families – dads, moms, kids, grandmother and perhaps a few pets – piling up in the car or family van and going to watch it. My cousin Manoj & I went to see this movie on the day of it’s release in Cochin, for the 9pm show, and we almost didn’t get tickets. We ended by paying a scalper almost twice the amount for the seats but it was worth it.

So nothing much needed in terms of the story – eccentric billionaire John Hammond has created a dinosaur park on an previously uninhabited island, with dinosaurs that his scientists cloned from the¬†DNA¬†extracted from insects preserved in prehistoric¬†amber. He invites ¬†Dr. Ian Malcolm, a mathematician, a paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant and paleobotanist Dr. Ellie Sattler to visit the park before it’s official opening. At the park during a tour things go wrong when a greedy head computer programmer tries to sell some embryos to one of Hammond’s rivals and deactivates the security system, thinking that he will go deliver the samples and get back in time to fix the system again.¬† However his jeep gets stuck in the rain & mud and he is killed by a dilophosaurus. The rest of the people, which include Hammond’s grandkids, in the park have to survive the attacks of the dinosaurs, including a T-rex and velociraptors and in the end only the 3 scientists, the kids and Hammond get off the island.

In 2007’s Jurassic Park II: The Lost World 4 years have passed since the incident of the first movie. Hammond has lost control of his company to his nephew & on a deserted island,¬†dinosaurs¬†have secretly survived and been allowed to roam free. His nephew forms a team to bring the animals back to the mainland for creating revenue. Hammond sends a smaller team with Dr. Malcolm & his girlfriend paleontologist Sarah Harding and to help leave it as a¬†nature preserve. The facilities on the island have been mostly destroyed by a massive hurricanes. Their camp is attacked and they have fend for themselves on the island being attacked by velociraptors. The InGen team led by Ludlow which they spot chasing and capturing several dinosaur species such as¬† Parasaurolophus,¬† Pachycephalosaurus,¬† Gallimimus¬†and¬†Mamenchisaurus but a¬†Triceratops¬†destroys the camp and the dinosaurs escape. InGen does capture a T-rex and it’s infant and carries it by ship to San Diego.

At the docks in San Diego, the ship crashes and Malcolm & Harding find the people in it all dead. A guard inadvertently opens the cargo hold releasing the Tyrannosaurus, which escapes into the neighborhood, then into the city, and creates havoc. Using its infant, which was shipped separately, to lure the mother T-rex, Malcolm and Sarah manage to tranquilize the adult before it can escape again and seal it in the hold. The next day, Malcolm, Sarah and Kelly watch television reports of the cargo ship on its way back to Isla Sorna, surrounded by a convoy of naval vessels.

That brings us to Jurassic Park III – the only one not directed by Spielberg (though he was an Executive Director) or based on a Michael Chricton novel. A rich divorced couple tricks Dr. Grant to join them on a trip, along with¬†Grant’s assistant Billy Brennan, to Isla Sonar to help them find their son, who went missing while para-sailing near the island. The boy, who is into dinosaurs and a fan of Dr. Grant survives on his wits and using his knowledge of the creatures based on Dr. Grant’s books. Their plane however crashes when they are attacked by a¬†Spinosaurus¬† (bigger than a T-Rex) that comes crashing through the trees. The team, which includes a couple of mecenaries, escape from the creature only to run into a male T-rex ¬†which pursues them back to the¬†Spinosaurus. The two predators proceed to battle each other and the¬†Spinosaurus¬†kills the¬†Tyrannosaurus¬†by snapping its neck as the group escapes. The group comes across a derelict¬†InGen¬†laboratory. After exploring the compound, they are attacked by a¬†Velociraptor. The group traps the raptor, which calls for help as the group leaves the building.

Outside they are pursued by a raptor pack and one of the mercenaries is killed. Dr. Grant is separated and surrounded by raptors but is rescued from them by Eric, who uses gas grenades to disperse the pack. Eric & Grant reunites with the rest of the group and manage to just escape from being killed by the spinosaur by going into a building. Grant finds that Billy stole two eggs from the raptor nest in hopes of using them to fund their digging. The group then sets out for a boat docked at a nearby river and are attacked by Pteranodons. The group escapes onto the boat, but while navigating down the river, the Spinosaurus emerges from the water and attacks them. They ingnite the oil in the boat to drive the dinosaur away. the group is rescued the next day at the beach by, Marine helicopters and infantry arrive, who were alerted to the island by Dr. Grant calling Ellie using the satellite phone.

Thus ends 3 epic movies about man playing ‘god’ and going against nature and trying to bring back to life & control a species he has no business with. Or being alive on the same planet with them. Enjoyable and entertaining although the sequels pales in comparison with the first one. But a movie franchise no kid or adult should stay away from.