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why do cops and sitcoms last for years? but not sci fi?


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Old 17-11-2012, 10:09
loonattic
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why is it that in the u.s. cop shows,medical stuff and crap sitcoms like friends,last for years but sci fi and genre stuff like that regularly get cancelled after 1 series without proper endings? with sci fi/fantasy etc mostly making up the top 10 movies of all time,you would have thought it would be popular on tv in america but for some reason it aint.some last like x files,lost,star trek,etc but there are so many shows i've watched that are scrapped without a proper ending.whats wrong with the yanks?
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Old 17-11-2012, 10:20
fmradiotuner1
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Maybe cops and sitcoms shows are much cheaper to make?
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Old 17-11-2012, 10:46
CelticMyth
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Sci-fi tends to be much more expensive to make.
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Old 17-11-2012, 10:48
catsitter
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There are loads of cop shows that have been cancelled after one or two seasons as well.
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Old 17-11-2012, 10:53
MoreTears
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whats wrong with the yanks?
And I suppose British sci-fi TV series besides Doctor Who are plentiful and long-lasting? Look, whether it is the US or the UK, the audience for sci-fi on TV is a niche one, a cult audience limited in size. The sci-fi movies you talk about that are big successes in the cinemas are not analogous to TV sci-f. The films are able to appeal to "normal" people as expensive special effects eye-candy. TV sci-fi depends on meat-and-potatoes science fiction storytelling without hundred-million dollar budgets for special effects and regular people don't care about such storytelling.
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Old 17-11-2012, 11:06
derek500
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Most cop shows and sitcoms are standalone episodes that can be watched randomly without committing to the whole series.

A lot of sci-fi shows are continuing stories, where you need to watch every episode.
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Old 17-11-2012, 11:08
stud u like
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Torchwood, Doctor Who, Star Trek and Blakes 7 all go on in some form or other.
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Old 17-11-2012, 11:31
theonlyweeman
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why is it that in the u.s. cop shows,medical stuff and crap sitcoms like friends,last for years but sci fi and genre stuff like that regularly get cancelled after 1 series without proper endings? with sci fi/fantasy etc mostly making up the top 10 movies of all time,you would have thought it would be popular on tv in america but for some reason it aint.some last like x files,lost,star trek,etc but there are so many shows i've watched that are scrapped without a proper ending.whats wrong with the yanks?
1) "cop shows, medical stuff and crap sitcoms like friends" last years because lots of people enjoy and they're easy to watch and enjoy. You don't need to watch every single episode to understand. The majority of sci-fi shows that have been successful followed a similar procedural format
2) Look at the top 10 grossing movies of all time
No. 1: Avatar - non-complex sci-fi battle story, easy to understand and brilliant CGI.(Not really ever attempted on TV, because it wouldn't work over4 seasons)
No. 3: Avengers - Superhero film (these traditionally do quite well on TV - Smallvile, Arrow, etc.)
No. 5: Transformers 3 - Based on a long running toy and TV show series for kids (Always animated on TV, fairly cheap to produce, and the merchandise sells well)
No. 7: The Dark Knight Rises - Last part of a trilogy that changed the superhero and sci-fi genre (Big budget epic, sadly TV doesn't have the funds to try and reproduce this, and when it does, it doesn't end well)
3) Sci-fi requires big budgets, take Terra Nova it had shitloads of CGI and shot in Australia. It would have probably scraped a renewal if it wasn't shot abroad on a ridiculous budget
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Old 17-11-2012, 11:39
Bungitin
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Sci-fi shows are expected to have action in them on a regular basis and like films each climax is expected to be better/more riveting than the previous show. Shows like Babylon 5, ST:TNG/DS9 used to have a hybrid soap opera element to keep them going and a bit of action on an occasional basis, but that only works if you can guarantee a series future.

IMO.
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Old 17-11-2012, 12:09
Corwin
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why is it that in the u.s. cop shows,medical stuff and crap sitcoms like friends,last for years but sci fi and genre stuff like that regularly get cancelled after 1 series without proper endings? with sci fi/fantasy etc mostly making up the top 10 movies of all time,you would have thought it would be popular on tv in america but for some reason it aint.some last like x files,lost,star trek,etc but there are so many shows i've watched that are scrapped without a proper ending.whats wrong with the yanks?
If you look back over the years there's probably been just as many Cop shows/Medical shows/comedies cancelled during their first year as there is SciFi shows but given that there are so many more of them to start with it's not as noticeable.
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Old 17-11-2012, 14:25
petely
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Simply put, Science Fiction is not very popular. It's too complex and too technical for most TV viewers, so it hardly ever gets large enough audiences to be viable.
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Old 17-11-2012, 15:38
Joe_Zel
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Because cop shows, medical shows and sitcoms tend to be Case of the Week and get more viewers who like to just dip in and watch one episode without the need to follow a whole story arc to know what's happening.

Serialised shows in general have a tough time in the ratings, but especially if they are sci-fi to boot.

I think there's still a lot of snobbery about sci-fi, when it comes to awards too. They seem to think because it's based in a fantasy world that it can't be well acted or written.
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Old 22-11-2012, 05:42
JaneBond
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Shows seem to be afraid to call themselves scifi. The Lost people kept saying over and over that they would explain everything without using science fiction. They just didn't want the label but I don't see how you get around it unless you start going down that path that it's fantasy, not sci fi.

I think it hurts the shows because they just end up being all over the place. Alcatraz and Terra Nova sound good on paper, but something went wrong. Grimm and Once Upon A Time are doing okay, but I think that's because they can fall back on their fairy tale origins.

If someone can figure out the answer, I would really appreciate it. I deeply regret taking for granted the years when we had Deep Space Nine, Babylon 5 and even Seaquest (although Seaquest sucked) on the same night.
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Old 22-11-2012, 07:39
mdtauk
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Star Trek stood the test of time
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Old 22-11-2012, 11:03
srhDS
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Shows seem to be afraid to call themselves scifi.
even the SciFi Channel is afraid to call themselves SciFi, hence they are now SyFy...

There does seem to be a stigma around such shows, look at the amount of thread in the main US shows forum that should be in cult.
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Old 22-11-2012, 11:24
Tom123
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even the SciFi Channel is afraid to call themselves SciFi, hence they are now SyFy...
That wasn't the reason
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Old 22-11-2012, 12:42
petely
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even the SciFi Channel is afraid to call themselves SciFi, hence they are now SyFy...
Yes, exactly - though it was a good move as they show very little Sci-Fi anyway, it's all B-movie fantasy and supernatural / horror stuff.
The only real SciFi I've watched on that channel this year is Continuum
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Old 22-11-2012, 17:52
LostFool
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Star Trek stood the test of time
Most of Trek, especially TOS and TNG, was "mission/alien/planet of the week" stuff with very little ongoing story so it was easy to dip in and out. DS9 was more arc-y, but it wasn't so popular with the general public. ENT also tried season-long arcs but that didn't go down well either.

There may have been an ongoing story in VOY but everyone just gave up...
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Old 22-11-2012, 19:42
brangdon
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SF tends to be about ideas, and eventually those ideas get mined out. Long-running shows are more based around character.
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Old 23-11-2012, 06:20
JaneBond
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SF tends to be about ideas, and eventually those ideas get mined out. Long-running shows are more based around character.
If I may counter with 2 recent examples, Terra Nova and Outcasts. Terra Nova had such potential to be good based on ideas. They had a lot of things going for them, including dinosaurs, time travel, interdimensional travel, class warfare, environmental concerns and more I'm forgetting. They could have gone on for some time, if the show didn't stink. The show did stink because they decided to make it all about a really annoying family.

Outcasts, I know I'm borrowing from British tv, but I don't think anyone will mind. They desperately wanted the audience to care about the characters, but that didn't happen. They ignored all of the science fiction aspects of it. How do you find evidence of early human life and then just toss it aside? How do you just sit around a new planet and never explore or have any good explanations for not wanting to explore it? They tried to justify it by suggesting that the character interaction was the important part of the show.

I just imagine network bigwigs sitting around saying no one wants to see sci fi when they give it to us, but I say, we just want good sci fi. It's not really as hard as they make it out to be.
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Old 23-11-2012, 08:05
theonlyweeman
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If I may counter with 2 recent examples, Terra Nova and Outcasts. Terra Nova had such potential to be good based on ideas. They had a lot of things going for them, including dinosaurs, time travel, interdimensional travel, class warfare, environmental concerns and more I'm forgetting. They could have gone on for some time, if the show didn't stink. The show did stink because they decided to make it all about a really annoying family.

Outcasts, I know I'm borrowing from British tv, but I don't think anyone will mind. They desperately wanted the audience to care about the characters, but that didn't happen. They ignored all of the science fiction aspects of it. How do you find evidence of early human life and then just toss it aside? How do you just sit around a new planet and never explore or have any good explanations for not wanting to explore it? They tried to justify it by suggesting that the character interaction was the important part of the show.

I just imagine network bigwigs sitting around saying no one wants to see sci fi when they give it to us, but I say, we just want good sci fi. It's not really as hard as they make it out to be.
Apparently it is, I mean how dare they make a family show out of a family?

The trouble with sci-fi is that there are a large number of fans are far too uperty and particular, so they stop watching just because of one small error and their ridiculous inability to suspend disbelief....
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Old 23-11-2012, 08:41
petely
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If I may counter with 2 recent examples, Terra Nova and Outcasts. Terra Nova had such potential to be good based on ideas. They had a lot of things going for them, including dinosaurs, time travel, interdimensional travel, class warfare, environmental concerns and more I'm forgetting. They could have gone on for some time, if the show didn't stink. The show did stink because they decided to make it all about a really annoying family.
I'd question whether TN counted as Sci-Fi at all.
Sure, they had some magic device that moved them to an alternate habitat. But that's all it was: merely a plot device. Once you put that aside the show was primarily one about colonisation. The magic time-tunnel / wormhole could equally have been a sailing ship with new supplies and colonists: e.g.convicts being transported to Australia in the 18th century. It was just an adventure story, with goodies, baddies and some photogenic monsters, The technology that the colonists had wasn't much of a stretch past what we have today (ok, the jeeps were electric): cars, guns etc. Though they had to invent some hokey "field" to explain why they;d cheaped out on obvious items such as helicopters - and where were all the robots?
The biblical references (even though they were wrong) were more apparent than the SF ones. The show was more religious than scientific.

Outcasts, ... They tried to justify it by suggesting that the character interaction was the important part of the show.
The less said about this awful, awful show the better. It has no excuses: it was simply badly written by people who didn't have the talent to pull it off.
If it really *was* supposed to be about the characters (and that seems to be a rationalisation by the authors) then that disqualifies it from being SF: which is about ideas.

Characters are important. But they're the means to convey the story - not the story itself (unless you're writing a soap opera). Engaging characters help to keep the audience watching, but if the show has nothing to say (via its characters) then it has no purpose, whatever genre it claims to be.
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Old 23-11-2012, 09:01
bobcar
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Apparently it is, I mean how dare they make a family show out of a family?

The trouble with sci-fi is that there are a large number of fans are far too uperty and particular, so they stop watching just because of one small error and their ridiculous inability to suspend disbelief....
It wasn't that they made the show about a family but that the family in Terra Novs was the most horrible and obnoxious family you can imagine, especially the jealousy ridden father. The River has a similar problem.

Sci-fi fans don't have a problem suspending disbelief. Star Trek for example had about the most preposterous notion ever in sci-fi of Spok being half bred between humans and Vulcans - that didn't stop the show being a success (eventually). Just as bad in most sci-fi travellers come upon a distant planet and miraculously the (independently evolved humans) miraculously speak American.

You can't accuse sci-fi fans of suspending disbelief, what happened with Outcasts was that once it became fashionable to criticise it people were picking up on every little item where on another show they would ignore far worse. Outcasts was not that great but a lot of the criticism it got shows more about those criticising than about the show - some people were even watching every week (despite saying how much they hated it) just to come and post about how awful it was and that the BBC should cancel it.
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Old 23-11-2012, 09:10
petely
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It wasn't that they made the show about a family but that the family in Terra Novs was the most horrible and obnoxious family you can imagine, especially the jealousy ridden father. The River has a similar problem.
Very true. The only good SF I can think of that was family based was Lost in Space [ Ed: and Chocky, too ], from the 1960s - When a drama contains children, the scenes they are in rapidly become about them, not the story. So the pace of the story loses momentum - for every genre.

what happened with Outcasts was that once it became fashionable to criticise it people were picking up on every little item where on another show they would ignore far worse
Was it a "fashion" thing, or was it a case of The Emperor's New Clothes ? Where lots of people were thinking it was bad, but it was only after someone went online and said so, that everyone else realised they weren't the only one.
I do agree though, that once a programme loses the respect of the viewers, people will savage the show.
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Old 23-11-2012, 09:42
theonlyweeman
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It wasn't that they made the show about a family but that the family in Terra Novs was the most horrible and obnoxious family you can imagine, especially the jealousy ridden father. The River has a similar problem.

Sci-fi fans don't have a problem suspending disbelief. Star Trek for example had about the most preposterous notion ever in sci-fi of Spok being half bred between humans and Vulcans - that didn't stop the show being a success (eventually). Just as bad in most sci-fi travellers come upon a distant planet and miraculously the (independently evolved humans) miraculously speak American.

You can't accuse sci-fi fans of suspending disbelief, what happened with Outcasts was that once it became fashionable to criticise it people were picking up on every little item where on another show they would ignore far worse. Outcasts was not that great but a lot of the criticism it got shows more about those criticising than about the show - some people were even watching every week (despite saying how much they hated it) just to come and post about how awful it was and that the BBC should cancel it.
I've seen terra nova, they weren't as bad as everyone makes out. (They weren't realistic either but let's not go there).

But It does seem that people in general can't stand anything that vaguely dares to overlook something in order to tell a story. I stopped going on the Hunted forum because people were watching just to slag it off, and it wasn't a bad show, it just wasn't realistic, and people were complaining because they dared to go leftfield with the cinematography. and personal statements were made when I dared to defend the show (I just wanted entertaining, I couldn't give a crap about how realistic a show is...)

I stopped watching eventually, not because I disliked the show, but because the BBC cut it for UK broadcast, and I was fed up of being told about how awful I am as a person for liking it...
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