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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Science Fiction Withdrawals (or How to Survive When Your Favorite Series Ends)

Battlestar Galactica is over, and it's not the first of its kind--i.e. a great show--that has come to a grinding halt, leaving fans with nothing to fill the void. Oh, sure, when BSG ended we had loads of science fiction shows: Dollhouse, Fringe, Knight Rider, Life On Mars, Kings, Primeval, and a whole bunch of other shows either debuting or continuing in 2009. Hell, half of the shows mentioned were cancelled this year, leaving slim pickings in the science fiction department (and I use that term quite loosely to talk about television). Often the same thing happens within literature, with great series coming to an end, and few good replacements left in the mix (of course, this is far more common in fantasy than in science fiction--think Harry Potter and the void it left).

What are we science fiction fans supposed to do? An even greater question is: What are we picky science fiction fans supposed to do? I never liked Dollhouse, and most of the other shows either lacked that spine-tingling anticipation garnering effect that BSG so easily produced or were downright terrible, which explains why a lot of them are no longer on the air. Do we just wait for the next big thing? And how are we to survive in the interim?

I've found that a great way to survive is to start watching reruns. After all, sometimes it's a good idea to go back to a show you liked so many years ago as a refresher. A truly good show is re-watchable, and if said show is particularly amazing, re-watching will create a whole new experience. Of course, if you're as picky as I am, that means you'll re-watch the same show over and over and over again, because it can sometimes take five or six years for something worthwhile to come along. The last time I religiously watched television was during the fourth season of BSG (because I got into the series quite late). Still, watching reruns is a great way to keep your brain entertained while searching for something new to replace the void. I don't know how well this works for books, though. I have reread 1984 a handful of times, but that was more for my own curiosity than anything else.

But reruns are a temporary fix for science fiction withdrawals. Inevitably science fiction fans have to find something to truly fill that void. Personally, this is a problem for me primarily because I am too picky. I don't like most television shows, and getting my science fiction fix, especially in the ridiculous market we have now where channels that are supposed to play science fiction play something else, is next to impossible. Perhaps BSG is a fluke, or perhaps brilliant shows only come along once every few years. I find that the only way I can survive is to go on a science fiction movie binge; I fill my brain with Total Recall and I, Robot, and Sliders too. Sometimes I have to go outside of the genre to get the storytelling that I so desire--Band of Brothers, for example, is particularly good. Survival, it seems, depends on trying to keep yourself occupied with things you already love until such time as something new can come along to fill the space with shiny things.

How do you survive? What do you do to fill the void? Do you have a few tricks up your sleeve? Let me know in the comments!

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  1. I've had sci-fi and fantasy withdrawal for a while now. I was a huge fan of Buffy and Angel as well as Roswell and the like a few years back, and then they all ended. Since then I tried to make do by rewatching stargate, andromeda, old Battlestar Galactica but I still really wanted a new series. Something I hung out for all week and would stay up until midnight if necessary to watch regardless of work the next day. So far, nothing has come along. I'm kind of settling for buying a lot of anime of DVD and working my way through that, but I'm still waiting for a sci-fi or fantasy series that is a must watch. Enough with crime investigation and reality television.

  2. Cassandra: I loved Buffy too, but I didn't get into that until well after the series had ended. I used the first three seasons to survive the wait between the first half of Season 4 of BSG and the latter half. Was a rough few months.

    Anime is definitely a good way to find something new, if you like animation. There are a hell of a lot of great shows in Japan that are now coming here. And you should really try the new BSG, if you haven't already.

    Oh, and look out for the Game of Thrones miniseries. That should be good (I hope, but who knows). There was also the Terry Goodkind series (forget the name), but it wasn't all that great, to be honest. Fantasy television has a tendency to be remarkably terrible, except urban fantasy, which seems to be good a lot of the time (Buffy and a handful of others).

    I'm also bored of all the crime shows. It's all pretty much the same and the market is saturated with the stuff.

  3. Anonymous10:23 PM

    The Terry Goodkind one was "Legend of the Seeker" or something. I know two Terry Goodkind fans that watched it for an episode or two, but both hated it, because it was, in their eyes, needlessly untrue to the books.

    There are a few fantasy shows that are pretty good, but they are a rarity--like there was Xena and Hercules. There's Merlin right now, which I love (the first season is available on Hulu). Avatar, though I know you weren't a fan, was generally considered to be pretty good (I loved it because the villains, were generally written as human, not psychopaths). Though it's old and was unsuccessful, Pirates of Dark Water was awesome. Also, I like Krod Mandoon, which is still going on, despite it being described as terrible.

    --Dr. C-Roc.

  4. The US version of Life on Mars is pretty bad, especially if you've seen the UK original. Can't wait for series 3 of Ashes to Ashes!

  5. Anon: Yeah, I stopped watching because it was far too cliche. Chosen ones and all that crap. It was a story I'd already seen before, but executed better.

    Of course, we're talking about science fiction withdrawals :P. So all this fantasy stuff is relatively moot, if that's a correct way to say that.

    Ausir: I've heard Life on Mars was good in the UK. I might dig up the old one online. I have no idea what Ashes to Ashes is. Is that UK as well?