I was flicking through the BSG thread (I stopped watching after the later half of series two proved such a disappointment) and it made me wonder why sci-fi can go so wrong.
Taking BSG as an example, it was a series and a half of excellence. Too many internal inconsistencies for me to worship at its feet, but still it had a gritty atmosphere, well-rounded characters and plot lines that held your interest. Then around half-way through series two it seems they had used everything they’d thought about prior to making the series (all the lore, except the discovery of Earth had been used) and they proceed to wander from hither to thither, meandering around.
I always like to think that Babylon 5 shows how a tightly plotted arc can overcome a less than brilliant show, but all too often the “making shit up” is too obvious. That’s fine when you’re episodic, but when you have an arc and the arc is central to everything, it just isn’t going to cut it. You need to know all the major stepping stones of your arc, even if you fill in the detail alter. Unfortunately it seems they ran out of stones by Cobol.
Heroes is another example in my mind. The first half of the series was mostly excellent, though a little too variable depending on character, but the show had real direction and purpose. “Save the cheerleader, save the world.” Even when it rambled you were waiting to see what was going to happen as they all slowly trudged towards this destiny.
Then they arrived mid-way through the season and the writers seemed lost from that point on. Suddenly everyone was special (so no one was) and everyone was related to everyone else. It was like a thirteen year comic book run, but all managed to happen within the course of half a season. I realise they got a longer run than they expected, but surely they could have done something better?
I recall Millennium going off the rails and I hear Alias does it too. Why do shows do this? It seems all too common in sci-fi.