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The State of Space Sci-Fi - Printable Version

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RE: The State of Space Sci-Fi - Mattias Westlund - 10-12-2017

I've been re-watching the second season of The Expanse lately (I binge-watched it earlier this year, but without subtitles, so I felt like I might have missed some details -- especially with the Belter pidgin going on) and yet again I'm completely blown away. I'm very picky with TV/movie sci-fi, I can usually pick stuff apart without much effort -- even things that I actually enjoy to some extent. But The Expanse is almost bullet proof. It has a sense of realism to it that I haven't seen in any TV-format sci-fi ever, while at the same time delivering a dark, thrilling storyline. I'm genuinely glad to see that it has been renewed for a third season! But I digress. This is kind of interesting:

Apparently, The Expanse and The Martian are both set in the same fictional universe (though of course the Martian takes place way back in the past).

I really hope the showrunners will cast Matt Damon as an important guy who is stranded somewhere and the Roci crew will have to go rescue him. That would be such a great nerdy detail, and I think Damon would do it just for the fun of it Smile


RE: The State of Space Sci-Fi - Samulis - 10-13-2017

I've gotten completely sucked into 'The Orville' lately. It's very close in style to Next Generation and even the original Star Trek series in some ways, but with much more character and personality from the cast (I call it "TNG where people say what they're thinking rather than what is the professional and proper thing to say"). I actually was not going to watch it until my friend Simon A. (co-developer of recent Versilian libraries) and Chris Harris of Samples Spotlight both suggested it on Facebook... now I can't escape. D:

I haven't been able to start watching The Expanse again... that gory stuff was just too much for me. I wouldn't say I am a wimp when it comes to gore (I annually marathon Band of Brothers and The Pacific, which I think draw the realism/gore line very, very well), but man, I just want sci-fi that is FUN and lets me ESCAPE the mounting tension of modern reality, not relive it in a parallel dimension! And the Orville is just that for me. Fun, but still will make you think when you least expect it to, like Voyager, Enterprise, or Seaquest (and with music by people who worked on several of those as well!). Nowhere near as realistic as the Expanse (same sort of "glossed over" sci-fi as TNG), and CGI is... passable, but I mean, I was NOT expecting this show to be this interesting from MacFarlane.

Looking back, I am super happy now that literally exactly what I was asking for in the original post has now come to us, from the most unlikely of creators for the task, and in a way that I am very unusually happy to call myself a true "fan" of. Yes, there are shows I've liked, or even just watched most or all of "just because" despite actually being pretty mediocre in my books (e.g. Psych, most of Grey's Anatomy), but there are very few shows I consider myself a fan of enough to actually defend or evangelize them- but this show is that for me, and that's an exciting thing I haven't had in, well, years.

Expanse is totally gorgeous and fantastic eye candy and just so beautifully done visually and with regards to the realism of space travel and life in the future but... man, I just can't get over that part on the space port thing. I'd rather deal with the bad lo-fi 90's CGI of Babylon 5 and it's Shakespeare-esque theatrical acting than put myself through the gore and violence of The Expanse (in fact, I think of The Expanse more or less as a "ultra-dark Babylon 5", although honestly B5 is preeeetty dark once you get into the later seasons). I'm happy that it works for some people, and the fact that such a realistic space drama is being made is fantastic news for the sci-fi world as a whole, but it just isn't my cup of tea at the end of the day. Hopefully with the triad of Expanse, Orville, and yes, even Discovery, we are looking at a new era of space sci-fi shows.


RE: The State of Space Sci-Fi - Mattias Westlund - 10-17-2017

Yes, cups of tea. That is of course what it all comes down to. Tastes differ and all that. The Expanse speaks to my troubled Cyberpunk-loving inner child but I can fully understand that it is not for everyone. I have never been much into the glossy sci-fi shows like Star Trek and much prefer the gritty and ugly varieties. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy a bit of Star Trek every once and again (original series or Next Generation that is, the remake movies are crap IMO) but I just kind of like ugly, disturbing sci-fi Smile


RE: The State of Space Sci-Fi - Samulis - 10-18-2017

Mattias, I don't remember... have you ever seen Farscape? Talk about disturbing (but also pretty funny) sci-fi- It's sort of like Guardians of the Galaxy but (1) with muppets, (2) with Aussies, (3) an actual series, and (4) way less frelling campy/nostalgia-train powered. Very "out there", especially as the seasons tick on. It actually achieves near total abstraction in some episodes with self-referencing, a little jostling of the fourth wall, and plenty of unexplainable things.

My other favorite "medium-dark" sci-fi is Babylon 5. It's a bit slow and clunky at first (rewatching the pilot, the acting was... pretty terribly 90's- I was waiting for a soliloquy or two), but the later seasons are really fascinating and there's plenty of mass murder and macabre plots of death and destruction to go around, but unlike Expanse, it's nicely tempered by cheesy pixely 90's CGI, so you never really get so far brought into the world that it feels fully real... it's more like watching an enormous stage play to be honest, from the sets to the acting to the dialogue.


RE: The State of Space Sci-Fi - Mattias Westlund - 10-20-2017

Nope, never seen Farscape. A friend of mine is actually a big fan though and he recommended it to me a while back, but I never got a chance to watch it before Netflix just removed the whole show (which is the most crazily annoying thing with streaming media and why I actually prefer physical copies of stuff).

As for Babylon 5... I remember catching random episodes on late night TV back in the day, but I've never seen the whole thing. And it did look like a good show. Thanks for the tip, I might check it out if I get the opportunity.


RE: The State of Space Sci-Fi - Mattias Westlund - 08-02-2019

Sorry for the necrobump, but I was reminded of this thread.

Has anyone here watched Lost in Space on Netflix? I've steered away from it previously due to its 7+ rating and it being yet another remake, but I decided to give it a shot earlier this week and was pleasantly surprised. It's classic sci-fi with a focus on exploration, adventure and mystery rather than space battles and big explosions. Really high production values -- it even rivals The Expanse, in fact -- and to my joy it even has a real soundtrack! Coming across a show or film that is accompanied by actual music rather than drones and booms and endless string ostinatos is so uncommon these days that it really raised my eyebrows.


RE: The State of Space Sci-Fi - Samulis - 08-02-2019

(08-02-2019, 05:52 AM)Mattias Westlund Wrote: Sorry for the necrobump, but I was reminded of this thread.

Has anyone here watched Lost in Space on Netflix? I've steered away from it previously due to its 7+ rating and it being yet another remake, but I decided to give it a shot earlier this week and was pleasantly surprised. It's classic sci-fi with a focus on exploration, adventure and mystery rather than space battles and big explosions. Really high production values -- it even rivals The Expanse, in fact -- and to my joy it even has a real soundtrack! Coming across a show or film that is accompanied by actual music rather than drones and booms and endless string ostinatos is so uncommon these days that it really raised my eyebrows.

Heck yeah, I saw that maybe a year ago when it came out! Also pleasantly surprised. I thought the CGI, visuals, and acting was good, but if I remember, I wasn't as impressed with the writing. Soundtrack seemed nice, again, especially compared to the usual 'fart-and-jingle' stuff. IMHO, it isn't quite up to the level of the Orville soundtrack or classic soundtracks in the same vein, but it's a significant improvement on recent trends. Overall a really enjoyable little show I'd definitely recommend.

Also, very cool comparison is watching the original Lost in Space (in B&W no less!). Lots of interesting nods in the Netflix version and it helps provide some extra albeit different background. They're sufficiently different that I'd hesitate to call the Netflix version a remake, but perhaps more of an adaption for modern times/audiences.

Edit: Less sci-fi, but also interesting is 'The First', which is unfortunately a Hulu Original and may be hard to hunt down. It's very 'hard' sci-fi in the sense that it is a very believable portrayal of life in 10-20 years. However, instead of dealing with the technology, it deals primarily with the people and thus works as a more traditional drama. The music is simple compositionally, but surprisingly interesting and fits the theme. To me, the standout feature of the series is the acting, even if the writing can sometimes be a little whiplash-ish (e.g. 'this character was just feeling better and now they're mad for no apparent reason?'). It kinda bombed in the ratings (floating around a 6.5/10) and so was not renewed, but worth a watch just for the futuristic self-driving cars.

Edit 2: Also, just saw- the Orville is now moving to Hulu! Crazy!


RE: The State of Space Sci-Fi - Mattias Westlund - 08-02-2019

(08-02-2019, 02:49 PM)Samulis Wrote: I wasn't as impressed with the writing.

Agreed, the writing isn't great, but I went into it after having watched Another Life and... well let's just say compared to that, Lost in Space feels like Arthur C. Clarke-level stuff.

(08-02-2019, 02:49 PM)Samulis Wrote: Edit: Less sci-fi, but also interesting is  'The First', which is unfortunately a Hulu Original and may be hard to hunt down.

Thanks for the tip! Unfortunately I'm not sure if we have access to Hulu on this side of the pond, but I'll check. We canceled a couple of other streaming subscriptions recently and are down to just Netflix and HBO, and having at least one more would be nice.


RE: The State of Space Sci-Fi - bigcat1969 - 08-02-2019

I tried 5 minutes of Another Life...


RE: The State of Space Sci-Fi - Nayrb - 08-02-2019

Unfortunately I rarely watch much of any of the new stuff these days; but the Expanse has been recommended to me time and again, so maybe I'll have to check it out.

Not a TV show, but isn't there a new Dune in production, too? I'd be interested in that. Oddly enough, I don't think it's been done poorly on film. I know the Lynch movie isn't to everyone's taste, but I like it. And the Sci-Fi Channel's mini series was good.