An Open Letter to TV Networks: Contrary to Popular Belief, Sci-Fi is Not a Bad WordDear Television Networks,
Now I know we haven't been the best of buds and I'm still one of those strange beings with whom you try to reach out to without looking as if you are reaching out to me: the elusive sci-fi fan. I enjoy the comforting way you talk to me, the sweet risky way you sometimes go out on a ledge to make me happy. But I'm sorry to say we are in an abusive relationship. I am Charlie Brown to your Lucy and I keep falling for your football trick every time. I swooned when you gave me Firefly. I looked twice when you flashed your sexy Legend of the Seeker. And I nearly tripped over myself when you gave me Forever Knight but crushed my heart when you ended it the way you did. I even came back begging for more when you gave me Blood Ties and almost fell for your nice words when you dangled Jeremiah and Jericho in front of me.
But then you left me high and dry...only to come back later and try to entice me back with your shiny new Invasion, Surface and Threshold as a triple whammy and recently again Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (and on an unrelated genre note, Raven-Symone's State of Georgia show). "No more!" I shouted to the heavens. I will not fall for you anymore! But there I go again trailing behind you like a panting puppy when you introduced Terra Nova to me with it's sexy dystopia opening and adventure/mystery storyline with so much potential to turn into something interesting. Falling Skies, I'm still trying to ignore you but the temptation is strong.
Networks, will you let me down again? Can I trust you to leave these shows alone and let them find their wings before they are clipped?
You lament the fact that no one loves you. Everybody hates you. You threaten to eat worms since everyone took their toys and went home. Can you blame us? We fell for the trick for too long and had the wind knocked out of us too many times to trust you. Then you take away our the good premiums items and try to sell us cheaper and lower grade versions.
And to top it off, you speak so softly and nicely to us genre fans. Sweet talking us on the side while pretending you don't know us or that your work is more Drama with a capitol 'D' and not sci-fi (oh no not that crazy sci-fi stuff no way. It's Drama in a sci-fi setting). But when your numbers start trailing down, who do you come to for numbers boosting?
Networks, we won't bite. It's okay to promote your sci-fi show as just that. Science Fiction. Sure we have some folks who like to call anything that's not Drama cheesy these days but not everything has to be 'gritty', 'dark' and 'realistic'. Some of us love that escapist fun and want to see a glimpse into a future of hope and wonder. Let a show find it's legs and don't be afraid to give us some compelling storylines in a futuristic/advanced setting. Cheers didn't come out running right out the gate. Star Trek wasn't a runaway hit until sci-fi lovers like us said "hey, give us more!" and now look at the legacy it left behind. Remember that feeling of wonder and imagination when you were a kid before the world came and introduced you to that mysterious stranger. The stranger called Gritty Cynicism? He was fun to hang out with in the beginning but after a while, you begin to miss your old friends.
Many have said they chucked their television sets and canceled their cable because they have had enough and aren't taking it anymore. They aren't falling for the football trick no longer! And thus you lament the lack of numbers that keep falling each day. Chuck the antiquated numbers system (brought to you by some fella named Nielsen, I understand?) and check out the forums, reviews and online blogs where the actual viewers are. There are fans, not numbers, who hurt when their entertainment is yanked out from under them without ever being given a resolution. There fans, not numbers, who invest their hard won time and yes money, to check out new shows that you have offered to them after a long week of working. Chucking well written shows and trying to sells fans cheap knock-offs does not build trust.
Sci-Fi is not a bad word (SF Channel, listen up, this is for you too). It is not synonymous with a platoon of basement dwelling nerds. Sci-Fi fans from way back before TV was invented were visionaries about the future and human society. They became trailblazers in technology, human relations, medicine and yup, entertainment to name a few things. Your brother Book Publishing gets this idea and even cheers you on from behind the scenes (see TV series book adaptations). Your older sister Movies are light years ahead of you, setting records and igniting the next generation of genre fans with their imaginative stories and far off worlds. Unfortunately, you are not as faithful. Be careful, your little brother Web Series is slowly taking over and your big sister Video Games are bringing a new form of storytelling that is engaging the very fans you seek. Plus, they're not afraid to pull up a chair at our table once in a while and chat a bit with us.
In conclusion, Networks...Sci-Fi is not a bad word and Sci-Fi fans won't lap up everything you dish out to them (SF Channel, I'm looking you with your original movies. We won't start Imagining Greater until you do). We'll get tired and go find someone who respects us. Sure we may be divided from time to time and argue amongst ourselves, but we are a faithful bunch and will give you our eyes if you give us a chance with some inventive stories and productions. Some of us may be picky but despite the complaints, we will still tune in and hope for the best if we see there is potential. Entertain us, enlighten us and challenge us and we will be right there waiting for the next delivery while we keep the worlds alive through discussion and debate.
Feel free to get in contact with your brother Book Publishing. There are some gems in the classic sci-fi and fantasy vault waiting to be adapted to the small screen. ;-)