Sunday, April 6, 2014

Science Fiction I Have Been Watching

I have watched a few new (well new to me) science-fiction shows over the past few months. A couple were excellent , two others will require more viewing to decide, and another had so many clichés in the first episode I was immediately sent looking for something slightly more original. I will start with the good ones.



Utopia is a six-part British mini-series. Set in a near future England where a group of comic book fans get their hands on the notes for a sequel to a cult comic book. Those notes contain hidden details of a plan to re-engineer the future of humanity, so the fans become the target of government spy agencies and other mysterious organisations. The series is full of tension, complications, and striking visuals. The characters are non-mainstream, especially a killer sent to hunt them down.


Orphan Black

Orphan Black is a Canadian mini-series. A petty criminal watches a woman who could be her double jump in front of train. The suicide victim left her handbag on the platform, so the criminal grabs it and then assumes her identity. The suicide victim was a police detective investigating other people who looked exactly like her. This series has many slightly off-centre characters, especially a female assassin.


Real Humans

Real Humans is a Swedish mini-series that I have just started watching it. It is set in an alternative world where human like androids are as common as mobile phones. The first episode jumped straight in, with no explanation and had a number of different storylines, all involving people’s interaction with androids. One story suggests the androids might be about to revolt. Another asks what humans will do when androids are capable of doing nearly everything a human can do. A further story seems set to explore human/android sexual relationships. I look forward to watching more of the series on SBS2.


The Tomorrow People

The Tomorrow People is an American remake of two British series of the same name. A high school student hears voices in his head and continually wakes up in other nearby locations. The owner of the voice in his head appears and she informs him that he is a Tomorrow Person with special powers. The first episode was full of boring beautiful people and clichés. A jock bullies our hero, the beautiful female has an arrogant boyfriend, the hero’s father was a leader of the Tomorrow People, and bad government meanies want to capture all the Tomorrow People. Need I say more? I will probably watch the second episode and hope something unexpected happens. The writers of this show should watch AIphas, a show full of slightly off key characters.


Star Crossed  

Star Crossed is an American science-fiction romance series. An alien race lands on earth, and because Americans are so paranoid and have so many guns, they attack and kill most of them. A decade or so later the remaining aliens are kept in detention camps. Some of their kids are allowed out to attend high school. There’s no need for special toilets to be built or for the canteen to serve alien food, or for the aliens to wear special breathing apparatus to breathe our toxic atmosphere, because the aliens are exactly like us, only more beautiful than people outside of television land. To make the aliens stand out as something to be discriminated against they have some tatts on their neck. They also behave exactly like human kids do. A bit of makeup and who would know they are alien at all. 

Of course, a human female and an alien male fall for each other. What’s that I hear you say, sounds a bit like Buffy and Angel (but with absolutely none of the wit or offbeat characters), or thousands of other stories of forbidden love between races or classes. This type of story has been done to death, leave it alone.   

I hope that there are more science-fiction series in production that are like Orphan Black and Utopia: full of non-mainstream characters that force the story off cliché.


Helen V. said...

Loved Orphan Black, Real Humans and the French series The Returned had me on the edge of my seat - series two is apparently being made for release at the end of the year or early 2015. I'm not sure but I think Series 2 of Orphan Black is starting later this month on SBS Two. Fingers crossed

Graham Clements said...

I saw Orphan Black advertised (while watching Real Humans) for SBS2 in a week or so I thought, sometime in April.

Anthony J. Langford said...

Long term sci-fi head here.
Falling behind though these days.
Inadvertently caught five minutes of Orphan Black - out of context so did'nt like it-not to say its not good.

I bought Utopia on your recommendation so looking forward to that at some stage. Too many series, not enough time.
Currently watching The Returning, Game of Thrones, House of Cards & now Spartacus as have been watching historical docos which has inspired me.

If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend Rome. A brilliant series, cut short at only 20 eps.

Anthony J. Langford said...

Ps perhaps you should do a post on your favourite top sci fi series of all time...

Graham Clements said...

Hi Anthony,

Like you I have too much to watch and not enough time. That's why I especially liked Utopia, Orphan Black and The Returned, they were all mini series, no 26 episodes to wade through to get to a hanging ending. The Walking Dead really picked up in the second half of season 4, good of foxtel to schedule the final ep of season 4 one Monday and then have Game of Thrones starting the next week.

Anthony J. Langford said...

I think i'm going to retire Walking Dead. Not much of it has impressed me after the first season. Thing is, I dont really like any of the characters. And the 2nd season was bad. Just not enough time.

Forgot to mention i'm also watching Justified. Pretty good.

Graham Clements said...

I am having no problems liking quite a few of the characters in the Walking Dead, even though they often do things that only bad people would do in real life, that is because the circumstances dictate that it is survival of the fittest. The show really explores what people would do to stay alive and whether those actions render them as evil. For example Carol's actions in season four. Is she a bad person or someone who is just doing what had to be done? The show also explores whether hope and charity survive in such circumstances. Ric is a big barometer of hope, having spent much of the fourth season in despair, he ends with hope.

Graham Clements said...

I am curious Anthony, how can you like the Game of Thrones then, because just about all the characters are arseholes struggling for power. Even the girl seems to be quickly becoming a sadistic murderer. I am hoping the Dragon Queen sets her dragons loose and burns the whole place down. But I will probably have to wait until 2016 to see that.

Anthony J. Langford said...

I dont mind characters doing horrible things for survival.. and yes I agree, Khalesee is simply power hungry, so not a big fan of hers.. what makes characters endearing is their warmth towards others, their sense of humour, a sense of honour.. granted there's a couple of characters in WD like that.. Rick and Hershel.. but there's little humour in that show.. i dont hate them, just dont partiualrly like them.. unlike say, Tyrion, Arya, Jon SNow, big Sandor and really, plenty of others.. i think the writing is simply better, but hey, each to their own...