This past weekend, the wife and kids left me to fend for myself while they enjoyed some time at the beach. On the plus side, I found myself with an interesting Friday night TV dilemma.
The SyFy channel was running a “not bad” B-grade vampire movie, “True Bloodthirst.” Being someone that is always up for bad science fiction, I’m thinking this might be a rare opportunity to enjoy without interruption. However during the first commercial break, I discovered that G4 is streaming ComicCON Live! What’s worse, I just happened to catch it while they were interviewing the MythBusters! Hence the dilemma… to flick or not to flick? That was the question.
Ultimately, the vampires won out. While “The Walking Dead” obstacle course was prime (you know I love zombies!), I finally gave up on ComicCON after listening to the third celebrity nerd talk about they had the opportunity to buy Amazing Fantasy No. 15 back in 1982 and how they wished it was part of their collection. Blah-blah-blah. These people really need to get a life.
Have you notice that we’ve transitioned into a new age of science fiction? Starting in the late-’70s, space age, future-based sci-fi dominated the genre. Let’s go through the list… “Star Wars,” “Close Encounters,” “ET,” “The Last Starfigher,” “Alien,” “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Blade Runner,” “Star Trek (II, IV & VI),” “Tron,” “Return of the Jedi,” “The Terminator,” “Back to the Future,” “Cocoon,” “The Running Man,” “Predator,” “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” “Coneheads,” “Independence Day,” “Contact,” “Gattaca,” “Jurassic Park,” “Men in Black,” “Starship Troopers,” “Galaxy Quest” and “The Matrix.” These are just a sampling of the awesome science fiction that was produced in the last 30 years.
The TV serials define much of the last generation of science fiction. Starting in the late 1980s, “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and its follow-ons fully realized the full potential of the 1960s franchise. Even 20 years later, Data is still the coolest robot ever, and I’m still not comfortable with a Klingon in a Federation uniform. (BTW — How the heck did Whoopi Goldberg get on the show?) On another front, Jean-Luc’s contemporaries were Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. “The X-Files” took us through hidden government secrets that included UFOs, aliens, government conspiracies, The Smoking Man and other strange paranormals. (Is it possible to be a “normal” paranormal? I’ll have to think on that…)
“Star Trek” eventually yields to another great space exploration serial, “Stargate SG-1.” Set in the present day, Stargate strips much of the fantasy from “Star Trek.” In many ways, the story becomes more compelling. We learn that ancient Egyptian culture is actually the creation of the Goa’uld. The series creatively connects virtually all ancient legends to past encounters with aliens. Unfortunately, after nearly 30 years of space alien plot lines, the well ran dry. The best SGU could MacGyver-up was to simply go into deep freeze.
So where are we today? Hercules and Xena saw it coming several years ago. So did Harry, Hermione and Ron. While most of us were exploring the galaxy, a rift in the space-time continuum opened that could only be filled with magic. Jean-Luc transformed into an X-Man. The Mummy arose from the sands of Hamunaptra. Peter Parker obtained his spider senses. Zombies started leaving The Hive. And in their own special ways, Bella, Edward and Jacob, as well as Selene and the Lycans, bring romance to the world of bloodsuckers.
Yes, my friends. The golden age of space adventure is over, and the T-virus of the supernatural has infected science fiction. This isn’t to say that time travel is over or that you shouldn’t enjoy great movies about pirates or Avengers. You should. I only offer a simple prayer to those whose imagination will always remain in a place found a long time ago and in a galaxy far, far away: May the force be with you.
Until next time, I’m off the grid @gregory_a_baker.You Might Also Like: