Monday, 15 December 2008

British Science Fiction and Fantasy TV adaptations- where next?

In the wake of Doctor Who becoming such a massive institution once again on British screens, there have been various attempts to capitalize on the gap left in the listings when the Doctor isn’t on the air. This has been done with varying levels of success on both the BBC and ITV, who have both attempted to create something new that would engage the science fiction and fantasy audiences as much as the new adventures of the Doctor and his companions have done.

Let’s see. Aside from Primeval, there hasn’t really been much in the way of original new material out there for families and younger viewers to enjoy. The Sarah Jane Adventures, of course, are a Doctor Who spin-off, so they don’t really count, as good as the series is. Aside from Primeval’s tales of Dinosaurs, future beasts and former S Club 7 members, the science fiction and fantasy scene on British TV has seen duds like Robin Hood and the overly fantastical Merlin attempt to fill the Saturday slot for speculative adventure, and they haven’t really had the impact that was hoped for. Robin Hood was dire in every sense, and Merlin, while showing promise, struggled to fill one series.

So what else is there out there for TV companies to adapt? There are thousands of properties to consider. Terry Nation’s SURVIVORS has just come back to some fanfare, starring Doctor Who’s Freema Agyeman, and there’s the eventual Blake’s 7 recreation to look forward to as well. The thing is, TV companies are being a little short-sighted in prospective new projects.

How about adapting E.E. ‘Doc’ Smith’s Skylark stories? Or what about Lensman? With advances in TV special effects, these are both possible. Another reimagining of The Tomorrow People has the potential to be great too. Hell, what about turning their attention towards the many fantastic (and very British) ideas from 2000ad? How about a Rogue Trooper or Strontium Dog miniseries? Or perhaps Slaine?

One avenue of adaptation that is proving to be rather good is Discworld. The stories that have thus far been adapted for the screen have been compelling, entertaining and have drawn suitably impressive ratings. More would be appreciated.

British science fiction and fantasy works at it’s very best when it takes place in an almost contemporary setting, or a completely contemporary setting in which something is a little askew. British TV has always done that very well. In which case, how about going the whole hog and resurrecting Quatermass as a series? Or, what about a new incarnation of the Avengers? There’s so much out there.

Just not Crime Traveler. Anything but that.

Then again, how about, shock horror, something original?

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