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The Future of Babylon 5 and SF on TV

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  • The Future of Babylon 5 and SF on TV

    You know there are times when you want to jump up and down and say "See!! see!! I told you so".

    During the whole TNT/Crusade debacle, my wife and I realized that, consistent with past history, network TV will rarely, if ever, be a stable venue for quality Science Fiction. It's just that hopeless (for example, a year before "Firefly" aired I told a friend that the FOX network will not "get it" and that it would be lucky if it got a full season). It was also around that time that DVDs really started to take-off. Shortly thereafter I realized that DUH!!!, if we are ever going to see great science fiction for the small screen then the middle man i.e. the networks must be removed from the equation. With the wide accpetance of the DVD format and digital downloading on the horizon, the removal of the middle man is now starting to happen.

    Catch this press release from MGM
    http://www.scifi.com/scifiwire/index...ory=0&id=41125

    Both Warner and MGM are bypassing the networks and taking their product directly to the consumer (as it should be). And it is important to note that each company is starting their product line with their popular Science Fiction properties, "Babylon 5" for Warner and "Stargate" for MGM. It would seem that they understand the great desire amongst SF fans to see good science fiction.

    The technology has made it possible for a new business model to emerge. A model that will prove VERY beneficial for the Science Fiction fan. No longer will the SF fan have to hope that his favorite series will not be diluted by a network (ala Crusade, Star Trek etc...). No longer will that fan have to suffer through mindless cancelation and scheduling mistakes that doomed so many other SF shows (Firefly, Space: Above and Beyond). No longer will he/she have to rely on ratings delivered by a general public that does not understand or care to understand science fiction. Rather, the science fiction fan himself will get to vote with his wallet. It will not be perfect, there will be different problems, but I believe this business model offers the SF fan a much better chance to see good science fiction than the network model did.

    Unlike in the past, if Babylon 5: TLT fails then it will be partly due to the fans not seeing it as something worthy of support. I know there are still issues of marketing and promotion, this is why I say "partly". However I believe that the production companies understand that this is a new model and that they will try to market their content as best as they can.

    It's a whole new ballgame and I can't wait for kick-off.

  • #2
    If it means no longer having to wade through forgettable sci-fi shows to actually get and love quality sci-fi shows, sweet.

    Especially since my TV viewing has dwindled considerably to a handful of shows, excluding sports.
    RIP Coach Larry Finch
    Thank you Memphis Grizzlies for a great season.
    Play like your fake girlfriend died today - new Notre Dame motivational sign

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    • #3
      Personally I think tv in general has gone downhill. Only 2 shows I watch on tv on a regular basis and that's American Idol and the new Battlestar Galactica but even I even download BSG to my itunes and would even rather watch that on my laptop over watching it on tv until it's released on DVD. Look at BSG even that show was in jeapordy of being cancelled after 4 seasons when it was initially going to have only 13 episodes and was just recently upgraded to a full 22 episode season.

      I'm very interested in the new Babylon 5 movie on dvd. Personally I think all tv shows would benefit from it. You could pay the money from the box set and that's it. You wouldn't have to worry about commericials or figuring out what channels certain tv shows are on or what time and perhaps even worrying if it's going to get canceled.

      There were plenty of fans that were supporting Star Trek: Enterprise to save it on the air so if they really wanted to they could get a 5th season of Enterprise and just put it on dvd...I would buy it any day. I loved the 4th season even if the season 4 finale wasn't quite like SIL but of course not many shows as a whole were as good as SIL

      Alex
      "The Babylon project was our last best hope for peace..It Failed...In the year of the shadow war it became something greater...Our last best hope for victory..the year is 2260..the place Babylon 5"--Lt. Commander Susan Ivanova (opening main title narration from B5)

      "Faith...Manages"--Delenn and Lennier from B5
      "Oh, boy, is this GReAT!!"--Stephen Furst as Dorfman (Flounder) from Animal House

      V--"For Victory. Go tell your friends"--Abraham Bernstein from V
      myspace.com-babylon5fan07

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      • #4
        Tim, I hope you are right.

        But I can't help but think that the studios won't innovate, merely regurgitate!

        Two studios are releasing their old favourites ( Moore B5!) but will they want to produce new series?

        To produce an entire DVD film in the SCI-FI Genre must be more expensive than almost any other. So the studios will only take the risk with an established show.

        We'll still be in the hands of the networks to establish it

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        • #5
          The shows that I always make sure to watch are:

          Deadliest Catch
          Mythbusters
          Law and Order
          Law and Order: SVU
          Countdown with Keith Olbermann
          Dirty Jobs

          I will definitely pick up Lost Tales when it hits shelves. I missed out on the original B5 series and Crusade. I'm definitely not missing this.

          But I'm only buying a copy for myself, as I don't know any other person in town that like B5, including my family. And I've always been the type of person that doesn't see a need to have others enjoy the things I enjoy.
          RIP Coach Larry Finch
          Thank you Memphis Grizzlies for a great season.
          Play like your fake girlfriend died today - new Notre Dame motivational sign

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          • #6
            It's a great idea, and I'm glad they're trying it, but it's still a bit early to say whether straight-to-DVD will actually be profitable. On the other hand, it seems like a first concrete example of somebody actually putting Chris Anderson's Long Tail business model (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Long_Tail) to the test.

            I'm also excited by the prospects offered by download services like itunes and xbox live.
            Last edited by RMcD; 04-19-2007, 02:35 AM.

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            • #7
              I'd happily watch a show on DVD over tv since there are no commercials every few minutes. But I don't know if I'd buy a DVD for an unestablished show just to check it out. I tend to stick to things I know and don't mind spending money on (like B5).

              Even in books I usually stick to authors I like. I usually only venture into the unknown in used bookstores, and I don't think that has an influence on the bottom line that is used to see if something is successful or not.
              Flying around the room under my own power.

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              • #8
                The most interesting thing for me about DVD releases is that removes the need to work to an exact timescale. If one episode can only support 30 mins then let it last that long whole another might be 50 mins.
                Who are you?
                What do you want?
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                • #9
                  I'll plug in right now...as far as tv going down hill, yeah a lot of it has with the reality shows and such, but there's a lot of quality stuff that's almost movie level quality. BSG comes to mind, 24, Heroes, Lost, Jericho..there's too much to watch we have so many choices. When you have a limited pool to choose from like we used to, the aggregate whole seems better becuase that's all you've got. Now we not only have tv and cable and premium channels, but the internet, video games that are becoming increasingly lifelike...it's a lot of media. So the garbage feels like more of garbage because we have such a basis of comparisson of great stuff to choose from.

                  The SG1 DVD Movies are old news though , albeit exciting. They're gonna use one of them to launch into a new SG based show.

                  And by the way..Disney's done this for years with their movies..making Aladdin 2...3...etc. straight to VHS.

                  The real problem is, as actors age and a series gets older, how will you bring in a new generation of shows in this format? It's hard to get someone to shell out some money on something untested. We're only exciting because they're making additions to shows we ALREADY love.
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                  • #10
                    I dont know if this fits in here but in a way it does and i didnt wanna start a new thread. Ive noticed more and more lately that the american audience is in large, stupid. There are so many shows out there where the writing just sucks and they seem to last forever. After watching shows like B5, Dead like Me, Arrested Development and a few others i yearn for more shows that dont rely on huge special effects or constant cheesy one liners. So if we can get quality sci-fi direct to DVD im all for it. None of this nielsons crap that relies on too broad of a spectrum, in my mind.

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                    • #11
                      @closetnerd: I know what you mean... best example are crap series like Charmed or 7th Heaven. But that's not a phenomenon just seen in the US - it's everywhere because mankind is stupid and easily entertained - well at least the majority ^^

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Whyruss View Post
                        @closetnerd: I know what you mean... best example are crap series like Charmed or 7th Heaven. But that's not a phenomenon just seen in the US - it's everywhere because mankind is stupid and easily entertained - well at least the majority ^^
                        Hmm ... generalising much?

                        No brainer TV, like no brainer movies serves a purpose ... that being to entertain. For the most part I enjoyed Charmed (and a few others) precisely because it was entertaining and nothing more. My wife and I could plonk down on the sofa with a bottle of wine, disengage our overused critical faculties, not have to follow a complex plot or characters, dip in and out when we wanted and
                        just chill out.

                        Most of my TV watching is for entertainment, and if a show entertains a lot of people it will survive. It's not rocket science, nor is it necessarily a bad thing.

                        It just helps me enjoy the more intelligent shows (like B5, BSG) a whole lot more when we do get them.
                        The Optimist: The glass is half full
                        The Pessimist: The glass is half empty
                        The Engineer: The glass is twice as big as it needs to be

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                        • #13
                          I never understand that reasoning. I don't see the link between something being simple and shallow, and entertaining and relaxing. Whilst deep, intelligent stuff can be hard work and thought provoking, it doesn't have to be. The best example off the top of my head would be books by Terry Pratchet. That man has more going on in his exceptionally clever head than any ten people you meet in a given day, yet I always breeze through his books in about a day and proceed to grin to myself for hours afterwards. When I'm tired and want to wind down, mediocre television only serves to annoy the hell out of me and stress me out more. This is probably why I barely watch any.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by raw_bean View Post
                            The best example off the top of my head would be books by Terry Pratchet. That man has more going on in his exceptionally clever head than any ten people you meet in a given day, yet I always breeze through his books in about a day and proceed to grin to myself for hours afterwards.
                            Actually, Pratchett's success is an example in my mind of why the Sf genre on TV seems to fail to advance. He just has the one joke, repeated a thousand times. I like his stuff well enough, but recognize that he is going to the same well over and over.

                            B5 was different. It actually had producers willing to say upfront that this beast was gonna get slain in episode 110, come hell or high water, and that everything was gonna lead to that slaying. This created a lot of problems that shows like BSG2 have avoided by simply falsely arguing that they have a secret plan when it is clear that they have no such thing, but it made for powerful TV.

                            Powerful TV isn't just the answer, though. Probably the most ground-breaking US TV show of all time was Hill Street Blues (which presaged B5 in many ways) and yet that DVD release is stalled after two seasons (of the seven filmed) because it lacks the "ooomf" of say, "Miami Vice" (an entirely pedestrian contemporary cop show that is fully available on DVD).

                            The harbingers of the future suffer, while the exploiters of the present prosper.
                            I believe that when we leave a place, part of it goes with us and part of us remains. Go anywhere in the station, when it is quiet, and just listen. After a while, you will hear the echoes of all our conversations, every thought and word we've exchanged. Long after we are gone .. our voices will linger in these walls for as long as this place remains. But I will admit .. that the part of me that is going .. will very much miss the part of you that is staying.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by grumbler View Post
                              He just has the one joke, repeated a thousand times. I like his stuff well enough, but recognize that he is going to the same well over and over.
                              Wow... just, wow.

                              I hesitate to sound condescending, but are you sure you're concentrating enough when you read them? I'm not talking just about the jokes (though I'd disagree that he has only one joke, or even uses only one form of humour - he's done film pastiches from all kinds of genres, books with historical or religious themes, literary references, different kinds of war story, character studies of various types, parodies of different writing styles and tropes), but that man seems to have a better understanding of the human mind than any other writer I've come across. Try reading the Science of Discworld books some time. Sometimes the quantum mechanics gets a bit much (on a par with A Brief History of Time in terms of really stretching the layperson's ability to 'get it'), but ooverall they give a great insight into Pratchett's mind and Discworld as well as telling an amusing Discworld story and teaching a lot of fascinating Roundworld (Earth) science.

                              As an aside, like JMS with B5 Pratchett isn't afraid to let his characters and world evolve over time. The series' primary location, the city of Ankh-Morporke has gone from a pastiche of the stereotypical pseudo-mediaeval city of countless fantasy series, to an industrial-revolution-era city of mechanisation and a renaissance of new 'technologies' (mostly amusing magical analogues of 19th and 20th century inventions), for one example. My favourite character, Sam Vimes, has over the course of several books gone from a washed-up drunk in a dead-end job, to a member of the aristocracy and serious power-player, who's married and had a child along the way, all without ever losing his charm or changing in a way that's anything short of believable. Anyway, enough hijacking the thread, sorry.

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