WASHINGTON, May 8, 2012 – It seems like only yesterday that fans of fantasy, science fiction and other classic geekery on television were ostracized due to their entertainment preferences.
And why wouldn’t they be? Much TV content was, for lack of a better term, trash.
Oh sure, there were lights in the darkness such as “Star Trek” and “Doctor Who.” And even “Xena: Warrior Princess” had its moments. But though many of these fantasy programs certainly had a solid fan base, most were crippled by meager budgets, short-sighted studio executives and premature cancellations.
Fast-forward to 2012. Oh, how far we have come. These days it seems as though the geeks have truly inherited the earth.
Compared to the past 80 years of television history, we live in the golden age of fantasy on television. Some of network television’s best programs are toying with the supernatural such as “Touch” on Fox, “The Vampire Diaries” on the CW, and, on the heels of “Lost,” a new series from the same creators: “Alcatraz.”
The biggest moves are being made on premium cable, with HBO leading the way. That network’s “Game of Thrones” is a television fantasy series unlike any that has ever been attempted. “True Blood” is still running strong with a gigantic fan base. Even Starz tried to get in on the action with a failed but impressive series: “Camelot.”
But what took so long for television executives to pull the trigger on a series like “Game of Thrones”? George R.R Martin’s original novel was written in 1996. “Lord of the Rings” had already smashed box offices around the world and even earned an Academy Award for Best Picture. Was the audience willing to watch a fantasy program really non-existent or were executives just that short sighted? How many “Batman,” “Spiderman,” “Star Wars” and “Lord of the Rings” films raking in hundreds of millions, if not billions in overall franchise revenue did it take for them to agree to take a chance on something like “Game of Thrones”?
It is a certainty there are some producers and entertainment financiers that are kicking themselves today for not getting on this bandwagon sooner.
Of course hindsight is 20/20, and there were certainly technical limitations in the mid-nineties that need to be considered when evaluating the TV industry’s response. It all comes down, as it so often does, to quality. Combine quality writers, producers, actors and special effects and you’ll most likely end up with a quality product in the end.
If you try to concoct something with less than quality ingredients you’ll most likely end up with a lesser product. The same can be said for any potential program, not just those requiring special effects.
What’s even more exciting for those of us that want to see more fantasy on television is that these shows aren’t just pulling in the usual suspects – they’re dominating their timeslots and converting viewers who have never before considered watching a fantasy program. “Game of Thrones” has been consistently beating out “Mad Men” in its Sunday at 9 p.m. time slot even though the show is aired on HBO, a premium cable network that many viewers do not have access to.
All of this bodes well not only for series currently on the air but for potential fantasy series that may yet see the light of day. HBO, for its part, is laying the groundwork early and has already signed deals to produce Stephen King’s epic “Dark Tower” series as well as an adaptation of “American Gods.”
“Touch” seems to be holding its own on Fox, and now more than ever, television executives are open to the idea of a program like “Heroes,” “True Blood” or even a new “Star Trek” series. And why wouldn’t they? Their motion picture counterparts decapitate all kinds of box office records each and every summer.
If you could not tell by reading this, this writer, for one, is ecstatic that fantasy and science fiction are becoming an accepted part of our entertainment mix. With the right budget, a TV network that lets creators create and a rich content base stands to please a lot of viewers and a lot of advertisers at the same time with a smart buy into the world of fantasy.
This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.