Monday, December 02, 2002

Science fiction fans have an ambivalent relationship with the SciFi network that started way 'back when they decided to name the thing "SciFi" (an abbreviation little-beloved by fandom). The network has broadcast some programs that are important (The Twilight Zone, ST:TOS, the X-Files), some that have significant nostalgia value (Battlestar Galactica), some that are underappreciated (Alien Nation), and some that are enjoyable straight-to-syndication types (Highlander, Forever Knight). It's produced, among other things, a quite good adaptation of Dune, something that can outweigh a lot of demerits. On the other hand, fo rthe past few years it's been riding the despicable "Crossing Over," a show in which a fraudulent psychic purports to put people in touch with their dead relatives. Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein would not have been amused. And now the network has turned itself over for ten nights to a man who has done massive damage to the name and concept of science fiction: Steven Spielberg. After the brilliant "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," Spielberg has done nothing but harm to the genre. His movies demonstrate an unconcealed hatred for science; they have ever since the nasty, scary scientists showed up in "E.T." Spielberg's imagination works in entirely magical terms... which would be fine for the creator of fantasy movies. But, because his movies have aliens and robots and genetically-recreated dinosaurs, people mistake them for science fiction, much to the latter's detriment. Now SciFi and Spielberg are indulging and exploiting the alien-abduction superstition, and Spielberg talks about it in pseudo-religious terms (higher powers, etc) in today's NYT. Bah, humbug.

Yes, I know that that ran through the X-FIles; but when that show was at its best, that streak was kept in a very careful balance with skepticism and respect for science. That's part of what made the show work so well for so long.

No comments: