Why is it that most of the time, the science presented in the science fiction is nothing more than fiction? Or is missing completely? Sometimes you get the odd bit of reality- like Joss Whedon having space be silent in Firefly & Serenity; usually, there’s the sound of engines or phaser blasts or what have you- even though there’s no atmosphere/oxygen in space in order for there to be sound. In fact, we at NerdLush are watching the late ’90s/early ’00s series, Farscape, right now. In the first mini-cap, Em questioned why the lead character- who’d spent most of the episode up to that point reminded the audience that he was a scientist!- got out of his spacecraft and took off his helmet without checking for breathable atmosphere. She has a point- what kind of scientist would do that?
Is it just me? Or do you watch these shows and movies too, and wonder where the fact is? Don’t get me wrong- 99% of the time, I am A-OK with letting reality go and just enjoying the entertainment. I mean, it’s not like I’m sitting in a drama- it’s probably an action movie and I’m there for the adventure. I get pissed at other genres too when they miss something- I love Criminal Minds, but there’s an episode that kills me because what it says to the audience is that people in my world (in real life I’m a forensic psychologist) do things by our gut (Derrick Morgan actually says during a parole hearing that his gut says the inmate should be released) instead of using assessments, probabilities, years of training and experience. Love the show… but I fast forward through that episode.
This post was actually inspired not by a sci-fi program but by a marathon of Crossing Jordan. When the show premiered in ’01, I wouldn’t watch it. But I adore Miguel Ferrer and couldn’t stay away. The reason I couldn’t watch it was because according to the mythos of the show, coroners solve crimes. Um… no. Coroners investigate death, by looking at the body, and provide that information to others who then solve the crime. The others got left out. But Miguel… and then Jerry O’Connell joined- and I’ve adored him since Stand By Me (I was once one my way to the Cat Club on Sunset (years ago) and he was jogging next to my car at a light- it was a fun moment). Anyways… So I was intrigued and the show got to me and now I love it. I honestly hadn’t watched it in years when I started my marathon a week or so ago. Generally, they get the science right. Of course, it’s TV so DNA can be processed in 3 days. And everything else that normally takes time or outside sources is sped up or there’s a magic person in-house who can do it (the same thing happens on my beloved Bones, I’ve learned to live with it). I’d like a little reality in my TV… why can’t it take a few days? Why can’t the characters whine about time and have to deal with real-life issues? Do you remember Hill Street Blues in the early ’80s? They got it right. Of course, everything took months, if not years back then- so they had to rely on other bits of police work…
Where did the science go? What science fiction program or film does the best job of combining fiction and fact? I’m really curious.