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The long game

November 6, 2013

Would you have been happy with only one season of these guys?

The Faetalist podcast is a podcast that covers the series Lost Girl which, long time readers of Fantastic Television will know I’m rather fond of.  As much as I would love to lie and say that I’m a regular listener of this podcast, I can’t as I haven’t gotten around to it yet given my rather full listening schedule.  You can blame Mission Log, which I am almost caught up with, if you like.  In any case, the Faetalist does a segment called Take Five that seems to be a sort of five minutes or less cast on some short topic.  The latest one had the interesting title of Genre Fans; A Call to Arms so, I gave it a listen to see what exactly it was about.  Dave (one of the two hosts, the other being Wayne) hit upon a topic that I have been going on about for awhile which is the highly vitriolic criticism some fans of genre tv make towards new genre shows.  You would think that fans of genre tv would naturally be supportive of any new series to come along but, this is not always the case and, in some instances, their reaction can make you wonder if they are genre tv fans at all. You should listen to the Take Five segment above as Dave makes some great points that I strongly agree with and it will literally only take a few minutes to do so but, the short version is that he makes a plea for a little more acceptance on the part of genre fans towards new shows.                                                                                              

I realize the concept of a genre tv fan tearing apart a new genre series may sound pretty alien to some people but, it’s actually more common than you would think.  Do a quick Google search for yourself on pretty much any genre show and you will pretty quickly find some nasty comments about the series from people who claim to be fans of genre tv.  I tend to be a live and let live kind of guy myself so, while I don’t follow some shows like Revolution, for example, I don’t begrudge others for doing so.  If a show makes a genre fan somewhere happy, then that show is fine with me.  If a show doesn’t work for me, I basically don’t watch it.  I would give this bit of advice to the individual who wrote the forum post in the Take Five who described watching until the end of the first season of the show they were discussing (which I am guessing is Defiance from the description given) as a chore.  If you find this the case, then why are you watching it at all?  We are living in a time where we have a large enough pallet of genre shows to choose from that surely there is something that would be more to your liking.  I’m hedonistic enough that I’m not going to spend my time on a show that just doesn’t work for me.  

The question which may arise at this point is why, then, do people watch these shows just to throw them under the bus anyway?  Well, I suspect that goes back to the very roots of science fiction fandom in the early the 20th century which will require me to briefly step outside of the realm of television.  I recently reviewed the book War Over Lemuria for the SF Revu website and, part of what the book covered was the very beginnings of organized SF fandom in America.  I had noticed for quite some time that SF fandom is decidedly more hostile with regards to its internal politics than other forms of fandom that I am familiar with.  It turns out, at least from what I read in the book, that this is how it all began in the first place with regional club boundaries determining where the battle lines where drawn over disagreements with respect to what constituted good or poor SF.  This hyper-critical environment seems to have lead to a minority of SF fans who read the stories just to catch the scientific mistakes in them.  To be quite honest, if people enjoy that then a I really don’t have a problem with it but, at the same time, I will not participate in that sort of discussion myself as that’s not the aspect of SF literature that I am interested in.  But, like I said, I’m a live and let live kind of guy and if there is a group of like minded people who want to do that sort of thing then they are more than welcome to do so as far as I am concerned.

Given that this sort of behavior exists with respect to science fiction literature, it is therefore not completely surprising that a similar sort of thing would crop up within genre tv fandom.  And, again, I don’t generally have a problem with it.  That is until the point that it starts hammering shows out of existence before they are given a reasonable chance to establish themselves.  Unfortunately, I feel that just this sort of thing has happened a number of times already.  I still feel to this day that the reason I am not watching a Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome series right now is because of the Bonfires of the Vanities job that was done on Caprica by a number of genre tv fans and reviewers at the time that the series was originally airing.  I am also firmly convinced that if this same sort of behavior had occurred when Farscape first came out we wouldn’t have had any other seasons of that show as well.  A similar case could also be made for Star Trek: the Next Generation which came dangerously close to not making it past season two without that sort of “assistance”.  Damning one let alone both of those shows to one season wonder status would have been a terrible loss for genre tv fandom. 

So, like I said, listen to what Dave has to say and take it to heart as he makes a very solid argument for why we really want to support new genre tv series as opposed to contributing to their demise.  What you have to keep in mind that we should be trying to positively reinforce channels, especially the networks, to be willing to risk trying new genre content because if it keeps failing, they most certainly won’t continue to throw good money after bad.  I would just hate to see us end up five years from now awash in sitcoms and reality television wondering what happened to that golden age of genre tv and with nothing left to show for it but a huge pile of series that end up being fodder for the Society Dead Television podcast.

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