Last night while I was watching TV, wife wanted to talk so I tilted my head around her as the scene was coming to a climactic point. She turned to look at the screen and asked, “Is this Bablyon 5, again?” I then had to explain to her that no, in fact it was Battlestar Galactica and that the former show had a decent few episodes, but because of poor writing, unrealistic CGI, and cast changes, never really had more than a small cult following. Cast changes are the death knell of television series. ER began with seven characters and finished with ten different ones. Or, television shows with young adults who grow up like Beverly Hills, 9021-oh so bad.
Syfy shows, though, fall into traps that other shows can get away with. The first requirement is realistic yet futuristic; Start Trek: TNG never really stood a chance because everything was too easy. The replicator could make anything from matter using anti-matter energy from the warp core. And, they never had to deal with money because The Federation had done away with it. Done away with money?!?!? As if. Money is the driving force of the human existence. People often state that it doesn’t really matter how much they have; it can’t buy love; or, my favorite, they can’t take it with them (hint: mom & dad).
The second rule of syfy shows state that there must be continuity. Star Trek: TNG also fails this test because half way through the series, Dr. Crusher is replaced by a rather unpleasant character named, Dr. Pulaski. Gates McFadden did return in her penultimate role later when people got tired of her replacement. I love the excuses they give on shows when a character disappears and then returns later. Soaps are the best! The kill off a popular character and then re-introduce the actor in a different role as the deceased’ twin.
The Final rule of syfy states that the series cannot be cancelled before it answers key questions. Battlestar Galactica performed this beautifully when they (SPOILER ALERT! – Skip below) find a habitable planet which happens to be our Earth, 25,000 BC. So many shows leave questions unanswered. Lost had the worst ending in television history. Every viewer figured they were dead after episode 2. The biggest alert came when a book on the shelf inside the hatch was The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brian where the main character is dead but doesn’t know it. Hello, Sixth Sense, anyone?
Whether a show is high-quality or simply dreck, if you are entertained then, ultimately, it is doing its job. One key lesson, though, if your wife wants to speak to you during an episode of your current fave show, hit the pause. It’s much easier to re-start the show then re-start the cold ember that your love will dwindle into. Trust me.