Monday, February 18, 2008

Captain's Log: Final Frontier, Dr. Who and Sarah, Futures Imperfect

My new review of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier is up at Trek Movie, with more than 140 comments last time I looked. [In fact, more than 300 now!]

The Sci-Fi Channel announced that it will indeed carry the fourth season of Doctor Who, and has added the spin-off series, Sarah Jane's Adventures, written by the same team. From what I understand, Sarah Jane is more of a children's program, but we'll see. They didn't get the more adult spinoff, Torchwood, though I'll bet they tried. That's only on BBC America. As I've said before, the Sci-Fi Channel is a mixed blessing at best--I hate the commercials and the on-screen promos, and the stuff that inevitably gets cut. Not that BBC America is much different. Both Who and Sarah begin on Sci-Fi in April.

Remember the Future? asks a character in a Firesign Theatre classic. Well, forget it. The future as envisioned in the famous 1939 Worlds Fair got postponed, to say the least, by World War II. In Disneyland's first decade, its Tomorrowland featured the House of the Future, predicting 1985. The exhibit didn't last that long--just from 1957 to 1967. Now there's going to be a new one--the digitized House of the Future, or if you're Bill Gates, the same old place. But if you want to build your own House of the Future along these lines, the Disney pricetag is $15 million.

Like most of these predictions, it will make perfect sense. Unfortunately, people don't. So when the future rolls around, it never looks as predicted--although at times it should. That 1939 Fair had a system for controlling traffic and preventing accidents that makes a lot more sense than our freeways.

On the other hand, here's a list by futureologists of humankind's most significant challenges for the near future. It seems realistic, though limited in dealing mostly with technologies.

Still, there's a hunger for visions of positive futures, Trek-style. But as Alex Steffen says at WorldChanging: "But positive futures are difficult to write, for exactly the same kind of reasons comedy is: lacking tragedy's visceral grab at our attention, tone and execution become all-important." (He gets the designer for Blade Runner to agree on its difficulty.) Which is probably why Star Trek stands out as just about the only successful saga with on balance a positive future.

No comments: