Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Vanishing Act

Following on from the last post, and after reading Danny's post earlier today, I can't help feeling that a lot of good British sci-fi shows have been unnecessarily axed after only a season or two. We are talking good quality drama with engaging characters and innovative plots. So why are great shows like Hex, The Vanishing Man and Ultraviolet disappearing from our screens?

At first I thought maybe it's because these shows can't compete with American imports? British shows like Ultraviolet provide great drama but the only thing I can see that they lack compared to American shows are visual effects. American shows have bigger budgets so more money is obviously spend on special effects and CGI. British TV simply can't match this but surely that means the writing has to be better? If this is so why have shows, such as above, vanished from our TV screens so quickly? I don't know the answer and there are probably multiple answers, a different one for each programme.

So fellow bloggers which British TV programme do you wish they would bring back and why?


Lee said...

Not all sci-fi or fantasy, but these would be my picks:

Going all the way back to the dawn of time, I'm still miffed that Robin of Sherwood didn't get to live on after Goldcrest folded. I have high hopes for the BBC's upcoming series.

More recently (but not that recent) I too feel that Ultraviolet should have had another series, as it was, frankly, brilliant. Its C4 and World stablemate, the prison drama Buried, also never had a chance and was left to rot in solitary. Not even a DVD!

There hasn't been much in the last few years I've been sorry to see the back of, but Bodies really should have had a third season.

Apart from Robin of Sherwood, I think viewing figures did for all of them.

Dan said...

Footballers' Wives. Can't believe they're axing it!

Perhaps ITV are making room on the schedule for Ant & Dec's Celebrity Takeaway Love Island.

Dom Carver said...

Even Olaf has done a vanishing act now.... BLIMEY!

Dan Owen said...

Personally I think The Vanishing Man was atrocious, as was Battlefield Earth and The Last Train. Ultraviolet was fantastic, however, and it's a real shame it never returned to our screens.

Personally I think Ultraviolet writer-creator Joe Ahearne should be in charge of Doctor Who, as Russell T Davies' scripts are sub-standard kiddie fare and eclipsed by every other writer working on that show, particularly Mark Gatiss.

I think the failure of UK sci-fi/fantasy shows is a combination of two things: budget and originality.

Say what you will, but people will suspend their disbelief if the visuals enhance the experience of sci-fi. Otherwise it just looks old-hat, particularly when compared to US TV. Dr Who scrapes by, but still has marked difficulty depicting the future.

But originality is the key. Ultraviolet found a decent spin on the vampire legend and Dr Who is a great idea. But everything else is just a poor-man's version of something better. Battlefield Earth cashed in on Independence Day badly, Vanishing Man a low-rent Invisible Man, etc.

To this day I'm amazed British TV doesn't embrace the Victorian era in sci-fi/fantasy/horror. We seem perfectly able to remake another Dickens/Austen classic, but why not use the period for some Victoriana spooky stuff? The best Who episodes use this period very nicely... but a show set in the 1800s as a Victorian X-Files, etc, would be fabulous.

Dom Carver said...

Dan Owen, I'm going to have to disagree with you on the Last Train, I bloody loved that show. I loved it so much I wrote to the producer and got photocopies of all the scripts.

It was interesting to see how many spelling mistakes there were in a produced script.

Piers said...

Hey, Fact Fans!

The Last Train was written by Matthew Graham of Life on Mars and Doctor Who, and script-edited by Diederick Santer, who went on to produce Cutting It.

I felt the need to share.

Bouncing right back on topic, Matthew Graham wants to bring back Blake's 7, it has recently been alleged. Which would suit the hell out of me.

That and Ultraviolet would be my two.

Bill Cunningham said...

I've seen Ultaviolet many times - I have the DVD set - and I've come to the conclusion that if the show had a greater sense of urgency then it would have been a higher profile program.

Unfortunately there isn't the sense of danger that you would think for a 'vampire' show. You don't have chases that really stir things up and break things, as the victim tries to get away from the unseen terror. No racing to the rescue.

No urgency.

It has the characters, the dialogue, the emotion, the originality, but no momentum/drive/speed of other series. I think that was the final key ingredient that could have put UV over the top.