Monday, July 13, 2015

What Makes a Good SF Series?

We’re six episodes into the Syfy channel’s new season: Sci-Fi Friday. “Defiance” is in its 3rd season and it keeps getting weirder. Although I like Nolan, chief lawkeeper, he’s the only character that’s kept me watching. The Tarrs—Datak and Stahma—are such horrible people I’ve lost interest in the series. Killing off Graham Greene’s character was a mistake. He was one of the likeable ones. Alak Tarr, despite his parents, has many redeeming qualities. He might make me keep watching.

“Dark Matter” is intriguing. Not so much because their memories have been erased and they’re trying to figure out who they really are. Rather, it’s because the characters are so likeable. The writing is great. Humor amidst difficult situations appeals to me. The interaction between the characters also appeals. They are unsure of themselves. How could they be the bad guys the computer database says they are? There are enough questions raised that I want to keep watching to see if what I've guessed (so far) is correct. This series is a keeper. That probably means it will be cancelled. I have been known to jinx TV series.

Then there is “Killjoys,” about three galactic bounty hunters. Like “Dark Matter” this series in its first season, although “Killjoys” is an episode behind. The concept should make a great show. Yet, for some reason, I’m not hooked. Yet. I can’t get invested in these characters. Again, yet.

So what defines a great television series—whether it’s science fiction or contemporary drama or comedy? It’s the characters. I have to like the characters to be invested in them. That makes the writing so important. You can have great writing, but not if the way the characters are portrayed doesn’t resonate with the audience. I think that’s the appeal of “NCIS.” The way the characters interact, their camaraderie, and—very important to me—the humor. Isn't all this what makes great books? Good writing, a strong plot, and likeable characters.

As far as Sci-Fi Friday, I’ll probably keep watching all three shows. I’ll DVR them to watch later, except for “Dark Matter.” That one I’ll watch live whenever I can.

How about you? Have you found a “keeper” series?

Diane Burton blogs here on the 13th of the month and on her own blog every Monday. She writes science fiction romance plus contemporary mystery and romantic suspense. Her newest SFR, THE PROTECTOR, will be released this summer.


Unknown said...

Well, I'm delighted you're watching Dark Matter live. Plenty of twists, turns, and surprises coming your way in season 1.

Thanks for supporting the show!

Joseph Mallozzi

Diane Burton said...

I'm looking forward to many surprises on Dark Matter.

Maris said...

I didn't realize there were so many SciFi series on TV. I'll have to check out those you mentioned.

Melissa Keir said...

I don't watch much tv. I am stuck on Criminal Minds though. They keep me engaged as I learn more about murderers but also if Dr. Reed is ever going to get a gf!!

Diane Burton said...

Syfy Channel has a lot of great original programs. So does TNT. We got hooked on Falling Skies, which is in its last season.

Jane Kindred said...

I'm still waiting for Haven to come back. :) Haven't seen Dark Matter yet. I'll have to check it out. (When I'm not binge-watching X-Files. Heh.)