Originally Posted by archiguy
BSG (the 21st century version) was, by all objective criteria, perhaps the greatest sci-fi series ever made. There are good arguments that it was one of the best dramatic
series ever made, and it won a prestigious Peabody Award as TV's best drama after its second season. Yet, it struggled in the ratings every year, narrowly avoiding cancellation probably because of all its critical acclaim and geek buzz. NBC, as an experiment, ran some episodes on the broadcast network one time, after it had been out on cable for awhile and had achieved a certain recognition for quality. The ratings were abysmal, and they never tried it again.
So, I think your point about quality mattering is misplaced, unfortunately. Sci-fi genre shows just don't seem to work for a mass audience no matter how good they are. BTW, an insipid reality show about rednecks who make duck calls just premiered this week to over 11 million viewers, on a cablenet. I think I'm going to go get drunk now.
You have to be careful, though, when comparing "quality" across genres... You are literally comparing apples to oranges. Each genre has a different kind of appeal... and in fact, some things you might like in one genre you might abhor in another. Truth be told, though, sci-fi is really more of a sub-genre I think... because you can have a sci-fi comedy or a sci-fi drama... and the GOOD ones are good while the bad ones are bad. A bad sci-fi comedy isn't worse than a bad comedy of another flavor... it might cost more to produce, though.
The problem I see repeated over time (until lately) was any time a sci-fi or super-hero movie failed it was taken as a sign to stop making those kinds of movies for years... meanwhile a bad comedy or a bad drama didn't similarly dissuade those genres.
Imagine... one comedy fails on network TV, do all the network cancel all of their comedies and stop making comedies for a few years? Same for drama... a drama fails, does ALL drama disappear from TV? No, because that would be silly.
But have a bad sci-fi or bad super-hero show and people start talking about how "nobody likes scifi on TV" or "that just doesn't work with most audiences"... It is a false assertion.
So as viewers we get caught in a weird place. IF a drama or comedy bites, we feel like we can stop watching and something better will come along... but if we stop watching bad sci-fi, we are afraid the network will take that as a sign to not make any sci-fi for a few years.
Now, if we had lots of sci-fi all over the dial and all were failing... you might have something about audiences not liking it on TV... but sci-fi is almost never on in any kind of abundance... so the failures are "see I told you so" failures and the shows that people like are so rare that the network says "see nobody watches even the good one"...
Seinfeld by all accounts has been one of the most successful comedies... but it was nearly canceled a couple of times and was retooled a couple of times when it first began. Similar sci-fi shows never get that kind of chance. History is filled with dramas and comedies that struggled at first but found a groove and then people even liked the older shows when it was struggling.
A bad comedy will not bring down the house on future comedies... that is how it should be. I just wish people would try harder to see why some sci-fi is good and some is bad... and try to make more good... and give some a chance to find an audience in the same way they do other genres.
The sci-fi that works really works and is good as any other genre... the popular sci-fi is just as popular as anything else... so the paintbrush of "sci-fi doesn't work" is really just hollywood and networks being too lazy to look deeper.