Friday, October 30, 2009

Why Not SciFi?

I was poking around the Diner in preparation for my first inspection when I ran across this little item buried in a corner: “‘Dollhouse’ swept off the air for sweeps month.”

Dollhouse, of course, is the Joss Whedon TV show about an underground organization that provides its high paying clients with any fantasy they want—in the person of men or women whose brains are repeatedly wiped of all memory and then loaded with whatever personality the client requires. This allows the star, Eliza Dushku, to take on a different character every show.

Which, is a cool idea.

Or would be if someone else was playing the part. But Dushku just doesn’t have the depth or smarts to carry it off. I know she’s a Whedon favorite and that she’s supposedly sexy as all get out, but to me she comes across as “playing” a part rather than inhabiting it. A valley girl out of her depth.

So maybe that explains, in part, why the show has been touted in the media as a “cult-favorite” (translation: beloved by a fanatic few), and characterized as “struggling” for viewers. And why Fox decided to replace the show during November sweeps with reruns of Bones and House.

Or maybe it’s just that this kind of show, which, despite its flaws, is still imminently watchable, can’t find an audience. I have two sisters and a brother and I couldn’t pay either of them to watch Dollhouse or Firefly or Moonlight or any scifi/paranormal series.

Remember Jericho or Invasion? I loved those shows. They were well-written and spectacularly performed and directed, and yet they still bit the dust before their time.

So, I thought this would be an appropriate way to start my stint at the Diner:

What’s the deal?

Why do so many people hate scifi?

If there’s a vampire involved, man you can’t keep them away. Ditto with the kids and wizardry. But take a grown up and put him in a strange, alien world, well, that’s just silly.

Which is why I’m extremely interested to see how the alien-invasion show “V” does next week.

And why I’ll wait with resignation for Dollhouse’s November hiatus to end and the rest of the show to air in December. Fox has decided to broadcast it in 2-hour blocks. Does that sound like a lot of hurry up and finish to you?

Another one bites the dust.


Annie Solomon


  1. Okay here goes. I don't hate sci-fi, but my tastes are all over the place.

    Loved Henry in Blood Ties, short-lived vampire story on Lifetime. Loved Mick in Moonlight. Needless to say, I'm drawn by sexy guys, but it takes more than that.

    I hated Dollhouse on first sight and haven't been back. When there was a scene of the star of the show shaking her 20-something ass on the dance floor within the first five minutes of the show, I figured I was too old to appreciate a show centered around a bunch of skinny actresses.

    But then the name Josh Whedon doesn't bring up any wonderful memories for me. I didn't watch Buffy or Firefly because I was too busy obsessing over La Femme Nikita . I'm going to correct the omission of never having seen Firefly because I love Nathan Fillion on Castle. The DVDs are winging their way to me as I write this.

    I guess it takes a strong male to attract me into watching anything related to sci-fi. I'm more of a murder mystery/forensics fan. And it seems I only have one obsession at a time. Right now, NCIS is my absolute never-miss show, followed closely by Castle. Sometimes the writing is occasionally uneven, but the undeniable heat and banter between the two lead characters of Castle keeps it up there in my viewing list.

  2. I have to admit, I never watched "Dollhouse" and never really heard about it before I read your post. However, I remember watching the original "V" in the late 70's or early 80's (does this indicate my age?). I enjoyed it then and am looking forward to seeing the new version. Will it be another "Battlestar" remake success?
    Just remember that "Star Trek" was panned and those 'Fanatical Trekkies' were the ones to keep it on the air for three seasons. It may be remembered with horror today as kitchy, but it paved the way, not only for its own sequels and prequels, but for all the modern sci-fi programming available today. Even "Doctor Who" was originally just a kids show with tacky sets and costumes and look at how important a program it is now--its been on the air non-stop for over 45 years now and is aired world-wide, just like "Star Trek."
    I think its that sci-fi is just considered 'kid-stuff' by society as a whole. People think they need to be 'grown-up' and read 'grown-up' books and literature. I know its like that in my high school library. Kids want to grow up too fast, and that includes the literature they read and the television/movies they watch. We just have to keep promoting the genre. Invariably, we will have converts.
    Thanks for letting me rant a little here. Hope you don't mind.

  3. I don't know why sci-fi can't find the widespread love. They are so much more interesting than whatever the heck the Gosselins are up to. I do think that viewers and fans of sci-fi are smarter than the average bear. I think they appeal to the thoughtful among us.

    Marie-Nicole, I loved Blood Ties. Yet another show I loved which bit it. Sigh.

    I'm going to go against the grain here and say that I like Dollhouse and I like Eliza.

    Hope you like Firefly. I LOVE it.

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  5. I love sci-fi! I grew up on a steady diet of the stuff. Anything that can take me to a world completely different from my own, helps me forget my problems, and introduces me to new people sounds perfect to me. It's too bad people out there let the naysayers influence their opinion of the genre. Some of the best shows I've ever seen were sci-fi. Firefly being very close to the top of that list. Therefore, it is with a heavy heart I confess I just couldn't get into Dollhouse...being a Whedonite that is almost a call of treason. I couldn't put a finger on why it didn't work for me...but I think I will agree it is Eliza that keeps me away.

    Sometimes the more strange the better I like a Fringe and Sanctuary. Then there are those days where I need a classic so I pop in a little Empire Strikes Back and head to a galaxy far far away to the memories of my youth!

    Great Post Annie! Bring on the Sci-Fi and all that goes with it.

  6. Sci-fi used to be strange and foreign, but some of the imaginings have come true like The Man on the Moon. I used to hate reading sci-fi, but now I've grown to see the art of medicine uses some of the same applications. Fantasy incorporates going out there into another world. When there's a basis of truth somewhere in the plot or setting, it holds and piques my interest.

  7. Might it help if there was a different name instead of Sci-fi which seems to be a negative for many. Maybe "As the Universe Evolves", or is that too long? :>_

  8. Been away from computer all day so I'm just getting to all these great comments.

    MN--I enjoyed Nikita, too, but it doesn't stop me from enjoying the other shows. I hope you like Firefly. There's a great long story arc, though some of the individual episodes are weaker than others. But there are some terrific ones, too. And lots of hunky guyslll

  9. Biblio--I never though of sci fi as kid stuff. Interesting theory there. That could definitely be a part of it.

  10. Trish, I wasn't aware that we sci fi lover are "smarter" but, hey--I'll take it!

    And I never heard of Blood Ties so I'll have to check that out.

  11. See--it IS Eliza that's the show's downfall. You agree with me, Lara! Yay! But I also think something weird is going on with the writing. Sometimes it's not at all clear what the #$@ is going on...

    I also like Fringe, but couldn't get into Sanctuary. I think I'm just not an amanda tapping fan

  12. Sunnymae, I think you're on to something there. One of the things I like about sci fi is how it often takes our reality and stretches it. I'm not sure we can totally wipe out a person's memory but I'll bet someday we'll be able to. Scary thought...

  13. A name change might help, cke123, but that's already in the works. Just as soap opera is referred to by writers and those in the industry as "daytime drama," many of the creators in sci fi call the genre "speculative fiction." But that term never seems to catch. People just go on calling it sci fi.

  14. I loved Firefly, but Dollhouse didn't hit for me. Don't really know why--I'm a SciFi fan usually. Have you seen Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog? That's also by Joss Whedon I think.

  15. Re: Some of your comments:
    A Wrinkle in Time (which I loved) was used in the gifted classes around here. Just shows to go you that sciFi people ARE the smarted ones! :>)

  16. Brenda, I LOVED Dr. Horrible. And, yes, Whedon did write it. Everyone should give themselves the pleasure of watching this web musical. I hope he makes a sequel.

  17. Well, Karin, what can I say--I guess us sf lovers ARE pretty clever. And A Wrinkle in Time is a very cool book.