Archive - Jan 2011

January 18th

In Spanish, It Means "Earth No Go"

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Memo to Brannon Braga: DEAR GOD, PLEASE STOP.

Fox is letting Brannon Braga make another science fiction show. For those of you who read this space purely for the political content, this is like Fox News giving Sarah Palin her own show, control of the network, and the Presidency. Only this is a million times worse.

You see, Brannon Braga is responsible for "Threshold". Not the TV series. Well, he's ALSO responsible for the TV series, but I'm convinced he created an entire TV series titled "Threshold" just to confuse people and keep them from thinking of the important "Threshold". The important "Threshold", you see, is the 9/11 of sci-fi TV.

I don't say that lightly or hyperbolically. Like 9/11, it was an unmitigated disaster, and like 9/11, it changed everything. "Threshold" is an episode of Star Trek: Voyager. And it is the only indefensible hour in the entire history of Star Trek. I don't mean it's the only hour I can't defend. I mean it's the only hour nobody can defend. And nobody does. This is important, because while there are worse things in the world than Star Trek, there is no fanbase more diverse in opinion. And they all hate "Threshold".

You may not know it by name. You may know it by reputation. "Threshold" is the one where they go to warp 11, Tom Paris and Janeway turn into salamanders, have sex, have babies, then turn back into humans. It's dumber than it sounds. And Brannon Braga wrote it. The tech nerds hate it because you can't go past warp 10, the romance nerds hate it because all the fucking was done by salamanders, and the ones with taste hate it because it's completely fucking awful. And, I reiterate, Brannon Braga wrote it.

Since then, he wrote a bunch of the one year of "24" everyone hated, and a bunch of "Flash/Forward", that boring show from last year that explored issues of time travel, determinism, and free will in the clumsiest, most boring way possible. And since that bombed, he needs a new gig. And that new gig is called "Terra Nova".

The premise of Terra Nova starts from a familiar place. The Earth is used up. People have to wear masks to breathe the polluted air. The human race is, to put it mildly, fucked. BUT WAIT! There is time travel! Of course there's time travel. It's Brannon Braga. Braga is to time travel what Trek nerds are to sex. He doesn't know how it works, has no idea how complicated it is or what the consequences of it might be, but he cannot stop thinking about it.

Anyway, the form of time travel available in Terra Nova allows the human race to save itself by establishing colonies... on prehistoric Earth. During the age of the dinosaurs. If you're a nerd like me, you've immediately thought of dozens of reasons why this is fucking stupid, from the Earth being a closed system, to the various paradoxes inherent in time travel. Unfortunately for Brannon Braga, nerd culture has infiltrated real culture to such an extent that you don't even have to be a nerd like me to realize there's something wrong here. Even the reporters covering the press event were poking holes in Braga's premise like they were Swiss cheese-makers. ACTUAL REPORT TIME!

"When a reporter opened with the not unreasonable question of whether these time-traveling colonists might erase the people who sent them back into the past, Braga winced and said, 'Oh my god. I feel like we're at a 'Star Trek' convention,' then gave a vague answer about how they'd have to deal with that down the line." - Alan Sepinwall, covering the announcement and first trailer from Fox.

That's classic Braga right there. He has a premise, goddammit! A premise that lets him combine Jurassic Park and Avatar! There's even the crusty old evil military dude from Avatar IN THE PILOT. And you people want it to make sense, too? You're all a bunch of NERRRRRRRDS. Anyway, how dare you suggest that Brannon Braga did not do research?

"Braga talked about how much research they had at their fingertips about the dinosaurs of the period, and then with the next breath said, 'But you get to make up your own dinosaurs as well.'" - Sepinwall again.

This, of course, is an awful fucking idea. The last time Brannon Braga was allowed to make up his own lizards, an entire nerd generation was traumatized forever. Those scars are still fresh. And it's not like these are some unrelated dudes making a show about a Burlington Coat Factory. This is the same guy! And you're financing his jihad against barely competent television. Thanks, assholes.

The only people who are going to benefit from this are the guys who make CGI dinosaurs look like they're walking. And then only for about six episodes. The rest of us will just have to suffer.