Friday, October 08, 2010

Science Fiction Drama

I’m not entirely sure I like this new trend of making “science fiction dramas”. I think they are a lame attempt to lure in audience that sneers at the very mention of science fiction. In doing so, the producers of these shows are doing disservice to people who really understand science fiction and appreciate it for what it is.

“Science Fiction Drama” itself is a word that’s hard to define. What am I thinking of when I say science fiction drama? I’m probably thinking of shows like Eureka and Chuck. Both of them have comic elements with some action adventure thrown in with a science fiction-ey background. But all then end up doing is using science as a source of plot points. There is no real speculation about the human condition involved. Eureka could very well have been set at any normal research towns. Chuck could have been just a normal spy comedy. The science fiction aspect is just not essential to these stories.

The one show that seems to be getting it right is ‘Caprica’. A spin off of the legendary Battlestar Galactica, Caprica further explores the religious and political themes so inherent to BSG. Additionally the angle that I really like and wish they’d explore further is the virtual world that the teenagers of Caprica are so enamoured of. I can see it as a clear allegory of the digital divide that separates today’s youngsters from their parents.

Science fiction drama is also a good way for producers to make a show they can call science fiction and still keep costs low. Shows of this soft don’t need to have sophisticated special effects or sets. They can be shot in more or less ‘realistic’ settings.


  1. I'm not a big fan of sci-fi drama :( I was browsing through Hulu few weeks back looking for some Star Trek/SG-1 style action packed sci-fi series and all I ended up was with sci-fi drama. I like sci-fi, but hate drama. Sci-fi drama just confuses me.. I don't know whether to hate it or like it!

  2. @Ankit: True. Depends on how it's done. I like Caprica for example. It's intense and the SF elements actually make sense. The other shows are just time pass. But sad to see that they aren't making many blowy-uppity shows anymore. :(