Science Fiction Today – Television

TAlready the way we watch television is transforming and changing every day. Already we are no longer tied to cable or even a traditional television. Some of the issue is there are a lot of things that could be mentioned about television.

One is changing the way we watch we television. No longer is it limited to just the physical television in the living room. Now our phones are portable televisions that we can take anywhere.

Not only is it about how we watch television, but the type of programming. In many Science Fiction stories we see an increase in reality television, but how the reality television gets put together and who participates evolves and changes. At the same time with the increase in technology there are a lot of options for how television programming might get put together in the future.

How We Watch

There are a lot of examples in Science Fiction for how we watch television. Sometimes it is the idea that we have multiple screens all with a different show on. The idea of multi-faceted watching is already starting with how many places and devices that we can watch. At the same time the next step might be to add interactivity to the television, which on some level is also already happening (think Live Tweeting).

This requires people to watch live and use phones and other things, but what if the live “studio” audience could people watching in the comfort of their own homes? Suddenly you can participate in the television show on a whole different level. No longer just passive participation, but being able to actively be there in some form.

What We Watch

The other piece that comes up, only somewhat is what we watch on television. Often times in Science Fiction it is almost like television becomes the new gladiator ring. Either by the use of people who have no other choice (such as prisoners) or basically doing it as a form of conscription when your number is up you get thrown into the games for everyone to watch – like in the finale episodes of Doctor Who series 1.

The other direction this could go is people voluntarily filming their lives (which we already have a lot of now), but the increase in technology and personal devices makes that more of a possibility. In some ways it is not just about advancing the technology, but the access the technology grants. There is a question of whether we will reach a pinnacle of entertainment technology for television, but with the access to have everyone creating new shows for people to consume – unless YouTube replaces TV first…

This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge, and also part of our occasional series on Science Fiction Today. You can read an explanation of both here. We are striving to keep these posts short, and know that we have not covered every example or angle – plenty of room for discussion!

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7 responses to “Science Fiction Today – Television

  1. There is TV in Chappie, but it’s pretty standard. Pretty much goes back to the “News” stuff, about how much the biases in news/”real” TV affect our perceptions of events. On the plus side, perhaps the more news there is and the more availability there is, the more viewpoints we’ll have and the less we’ll be prone to biased perceptions of events…

    I think I like the idea of interactive TV, but it also worries me. I worry about authorial decisions being watered down.

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    • I don’t know that interactive TV would be everything, but it is an interesting idea. Kind of like the Choose Your Own Adventure Books. There are some video games that come across more as interactive movies than just a traditional game and I find them enjoyable because they take you on a journey and you can play through and see all the paths the story could take. At the same time there are some stories that really should not be convoluted and watered down in that way.

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      • Yup. I think people will always want a variety of media for their stories, so I choose to see it as a cool possibility for story expansion, rather than as the death of older media. We shall see.

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  2. The only TV I watch is curated on the Internet… I haven’t turned on a TV in almost 6 years now! I think it’s going to be more important for TV programming that is informational to get shorter, though we’re already seeing (in the last 20 years) most dramas turning into hour long features instead of 30 minutes. Which may also be contributing to theater movies having run times of over 120 minutes on average these days.

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    • We are seeing hour long dramas, but we are also seeing an increase in shorter seasons (13 episodes instead of 24). At the same time we also have the 24 hour news cycle, which some people watch, although I don’t know how many. Now with Netflix and Hulu getting into the creating content it will be interesting to see the changes that come down the line for television.

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      • Interestingly, the 13 episode thing is really common in Japan, and in Japanese programming, so I hardly noticed! But that’s a good point. I think the 13 episode thing works particularly well for Japanese stories, which tend to try and have tighter storylines with fewer bits of filler (live action, mind you).

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  3. When I read this, I immediately thought of The Truman Show. Such a fantastic commentary on the concept of reality TV.

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