I hate to drag The Protomen’s good name down into the mud, but I was thinking about this last night: it’s all too easy to see the cavalcade of utter garbage in the form of Vapid Reality Show Season #42 and declare that there truly are no heroes left in man, at least not when it comes to prime time television programming.
The truth is it’s not all vile, rancid shit on the airwaves nowadays; there are actually quite a few stand-out shows on television right now, and you can actually thank genre fiction fans for the majority of them.
The most noteworthy television programs, the ones that have routinely demonstrated the best writing and acting, have nearly all been fantasy, science-fiction, or horror shows over the past few years. This isn’t the same world where Firefly gets cancelled – that was ten years ago, by the way, if you want to start thinking about your own mortality – and while our boy Nate Fillion has gone on to star in a police procedural, guess what: the show was created and is run by the same people who worked on shows like Star Trek: Deep Space 9 and The X-Files.
Not only that, there are popular shows airing right now and not just memories like shows that were cut down in their prime like Firefly or Dollhouse, or ran their course like Battlestar Galactica and Lost; in fact the top-rated show on Sunday nights, The Walking Dead, is a goddamn genre double dip: a zombie apocalypse show based on a comic book series. The second season of A Game of Throneswill be coming out soon, and True Blood has been skirting that fine line before jumping the shark and devolving into a parody of itself, though I kind of think that one’s been circling the drain for a while. Add into the mix truly stand-out Syfy shows like Warehouse 13 and the American production of Being Human or even network fare like Alcatraz, Fringe, and Terra Nova (though that last one might not make it back next season) and you’ve got a pretty large stable of scripted shows to stem the tides of steaming bullshit like The Jersey Shore and The Real Housewives of Fishcunt County or wherever they’re filming this season.
It’s not just television where you’re seeing smart shows, either. You can make an argument that genre stories are alive and well in the film industry, though you’ve got your share of Sharktopus-style awful out there, usually in the form of big budget garbage-fests that are all sizzle and no steak (I’m looking at you, Michael Bay). And even though Avatar was really just Dances With Wolves in space, it still killed at the box
office in the middle of a recession and $5 bottles of concession stand water. Still, for every Uwe Boll-directed abortion, Shakespearean legends are successfully directing big-ass comic book movies that are raking in cash hand-over-fist, and any genre film Simon Pegg and Nick Frost appear in is almost guaranteed to become a cult hit. In other comforting news, an increasing number of people have begun to disavow the Star Wars prequels with the same fervor that they refuse to admit there was ever a Highlander 2.
This gives me hope for the future. Particularly because Christopher Lambert, who is one of my absolute favorite actors, is a bit too long in the tooth to ever come back to the franchise, even though he would be the only one capable of resurrecting it after Adrian Paul effectively ran it into the ground. If there’s one thing that I truly am upset about, it’s a distinct lack of television shows and films with a Queen soundtrack. There’s only so many times I can watch Flash Gordon before I want to claw my eyes out; not even Brian Blessed dressed up like a low-rent Hawkman can ease the pain of that howler for long. At this point, I’d be willing to give Ishtar a try.
What about you guys? What are your favorite genre television shows or movies that you’ve got a hard-on (or hate-on) for right now? (I swear if any of you say Stargate: Atlantis I’m leaving.)