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The Final Frontier

I've never been much of a TV watcher. Over the years, there have always been a couple of shows to get hooked on, but the well appears to be drying up at the moment. TDS, of course, continues to be amazingly good, if occasionally uneven. On the other hand, the first season of Dead Like Me which was so terrific was followed by a truly awful season thanks to the show's creator being shunted off. Despite much critical heralding of the second season, we regulars sensed the decay and left, apparently not alone. A less ambiguous and therefore less interesting second season of the once tantalizing Carnivàle is peeling away the occult veneer of that show, showing it to be only skin deep, and so my continued viewing hangs in the balance. Perhaps HBO is beginning to shy away from the latent danger that made the show once so compelling.

But the one consistently good, mature and well done series that I have followed, lo!, these past 4 years, is being canceled. While many of the Next Gen geeks have been critical of Enterprise, I have enjoyed it immensely. Despite having been raised on Classic Trek, I have to place Enterprise second in my heart next to the jewel in the crown of that franchise, Deep Space Nine. I expect to get grief over this, but for my money, both of these shows exemplified the maturity, excitement and thoughtfulness that was essential to lift the genre out of the geek shadows and into the limelight.

Both showcased what SF does best: incorporate the finest drama with philosophical, intellectual, political and scientific insights that mainstream shows daren't touch. They challenged the status quo, even in tough political times, and never caved in to pressure. The characters and relationships were subtle and truthful, buttressed by fine acting, esprit de corps and terrific production values. While these shows were largely overlooked in anything other than technical awards, Enterprise and DS9 will stand the critical test of time -- and who knows? -- may inspire another revival down the road.

So bravo to the creators, cast and crew of Enterprise! We endured the wasteland before, and are saddened to see its return, but we remain grateful you are exiting on such a high note. Roddenberry would be proud. But not surprised, just awed.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 20th, 2005 09:07 pm (UTC)
Did a bit of catching up and now have to report that Carnivàle has indeed gone into the toilet. While it is like deciphering Soviet transmissions, it appears that creator Daniel Knaupf is executive producer in name only. All but the first episode in the past eight were written by him, the historical accuracy has gone out the window and the whole direction of the show seems to have been usurped by business executives frightened by its original implications. This may make the show more palatable (read: dumbed down and less challenging of the status quo), but it has extinguished the creative spark that made the show such a standout. Alas!
Feb. 21st, 2005 12:10 am (UTC)
Interestingly, too, it looks like both Dead Like Me and Carnivale fell due to the same "flaw" (strength, really): nonstandard spirituality. Even on cable, looks like teevee can't handle that any better than movies can.

In particular, what made Carnivale so fascinating was the original juxtaposition of a "bad" man forced to be a healer and redeemer, with a "good" man twisted into a tool of evil. Now it's just obvious (and anachronistic, and just plain grody) evil dude versus the good sap. Echh.

A similar affliction appears to have eaten Constantine, so far as the ads reveal; I'm not taking a chance until I hear differently.

So, umm, let's just stay home tomorrow, hunh. ;)

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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