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Do we need a new show on TV to get people interested in space exploration and science?


CmdrShepSpectre2183
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I am enjoying "The Expanse" and I am excited for "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" but it was a alternate history soap opera on Apple TV that has ignited my interest in real life space exploration and space science. Before COVID hit I watched the trailer and dismissed it as another astronaut wives club style soap opera but during the quarantine I decided to check it out due to curiosity and boredom.

 

It turned out better than I expected. First 3 episodes were slow but after the story managed to grab my attention.

 

 

Good selection of music too.

 

 

 

Thanks to this show I am much more interested in NASA, the history of spaceflight, and space exploration. Before this show I forgot NASA were working hard developing new spacecraft and probes. It became all too easy to think America had given up on human spaceflight.

 

Is "For All Mankind" the space adventure TV needed? Would an astronaut soap opera appeal to a wider audience than another "Star Trek" style show?

Edited by CmdrShepSpectre2183
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48 minutes ago, CmdrShepSpectre2183 said:

I am enjoying "The Expanse" and I am excited for "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" but it was a alternate history soap opera on Apple TV that has ignited my interest in real life space exploration and space science. Before COVID hit I watched the trailer and dismissed it as another astronaut wives club style soap opera but during the quarantine I decided to check it out due to curiosity and boredom.

I am enjoying "The Expanse" and I am excited for "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" but it was a alternate history soap opera on Apple TV that has ignited my interest in real life space exploration and space science. Before COVID hit I watched the trailer and dismissed it as another astronaut wives club style soap opera but during the quarantine I decided to check it out due to curiosity and boredom.

Thanks to this show I am much more interested in NASA, the history of spaceflight, and space exploration. Before this show I forgot NASA were working hard developing new spacecraft and probes. It became all too easy to think America had given up on human spaceflight.

Is "For All Mankind" the space adventure TV needed? Would an astronaut soap opera appeal to a wider audience than another "Star Trek" style show?

While I am a lover of good sci/fi movies, I am of the opinion that more true to life doco's, such as "First MAN", Cosmos, and NASA getting a good/better PR department to sell its products in a better fashion would be instrumental in garnishing more interest in NASA and science in general. A start at primary school would be beneficial.

I havn,t watched "For All Mankind" as yet.

While "First Man" isn't a doco, it is a reasonably factual movie.

Edited by beecee
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I have just gotten into "The Expanse" and it is one hell of an exciting mystery and action adventure. One part of the story have the bad guys infecting a space station with some sort of bioweapon. The bioweapon is this blue goo that uses humans to grow larger. The bad guys packed innocent people into fallout shelters and injected them with the virus through the guise of a "vaccine".

https://expanse.fandom.com/wiki/Protomolecule

I used to think science fiction could be used to promote interest in science but could that type of "sci-fi" lead to distrust of science and vaccines? I already know one person who compares the COVID vaccine to the vaccine that turned people into zombies in the Will Smith movie "I Am Legend".

On the other hand Apple TV's "For All Mankind" has gotten me interested in space exploration and even space science. I didn't know space had stuff like "solar storms".

 

Can the TV show producers make an exciting space adventure show that sends the message that humanity will never reach it's full potential unless humanity embraces science?

 

Edited by CmdrShepSpectre2183
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Science fiction fills a largish segction of world literature and cinema.

I suppose any genre of any medium can be bad for society. Depends on the intent, content, execution, distribution and audience reception. 

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Isn't there another thread started on these series?

And, yes, tv has produced several exciting space adventure shows, many of which suggest that, erm, boldly going forth into space (by means of science and technology) is something that we humans are destined to do.  It's hard to see humanity becoming spacefaring without embracing science, unless it turns out that astral projection is really a thing.  Or flying carpets. 

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Besides the space shows, there have been some good fictional ones on other aspects of science - medical, archeological and forensic - all of which have good and poor examples. Futuristic series are more fantasy and wishful thinking than hard science, but they're fun - and I don't see them as harmful. People who can't separate the mad/evil genius trope from the white magic of epidemiologists are unlikely to be influenced by tv. 

All the same, I'd happily sit through another series like Babylon 5 or Deep Space 9 (I'm tied of replaying the originals)

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I'd put documentary above SF - they at least attempt (the ones I'm tempted by) to be factual, but I find I struggle to keep watching the doco's too; the last time I tried the overly dramatic background music and awestruck narration was just too much. And I was familiar with most of the content, so not much that was new.

SF unfortunately presents a fantasy vision of Humans in Space that references the F of other SF far more than it references S. They get so much so wrong that I can't look past the mistakes. Whether back in my youth, when a space monster blocked the air intakes of the ship of Lost in Space - the Robinsons were going to asphyxiate (even then we thought it was stupid) - or my failed attempt to watch "Expanse", that others consider very good.

Having the SF standard tyrannical and corrupt UN running Earth badly in Expanse was mildly irritating but I know most people who like SF will be Americans who have been taught to dislike and distrust the UN, so it hits their buttons (but annoy me) and there is an independent and powerful Mars (colonising Mars is inevitable, right?); these are the kind of tropes that get used to suit viewer tastes I don't share. But it was the water shortage on Ceres that lost me. Seriously? They are a major mining operation but they don't know you can heat carbonaceous chondrite material and get water? And don't they do recycling?

There are some SF writers (of novels) that I enjoy a lot but very little of TV or cinema SF can grab me; it is the ones that don't take themselves seriously, that are unashamedly fantasy or comedy or both that are most likely to appeal to me.

 

Edited by Ken Fabian
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Also it seems to me that OP sees SF in a very narrow context. The genre has almost always been more a commentary on society and its development rather than the application of science to a literary genres. In fact, more often than not, the "science" part is just the vehicle to make a point (similar to the purpose of, say, monsters in fantasy). There are of course notable exceptions where the science part is heavy and sometimes is considered under the genre of "hard" SF. As a whole it is but a small slice of the overall SF picture.

As such one could expand the question to ask whether fiction or even literature is bad for society. 

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7 minutes ago, Ken Fabian said:

I'd put documentary above SF - they at least attempt (the ones I'm tempted by) to be factual, but I find I struggle to keep watching the doco's too; the last time I tried the overly dramatic background music and awestruck narration was just too much. And I was familiar with most of the content, so not much that was new.

I have complete sympathy for that. Way too much music behind everything these days, and the narrator makes a huge effort to sound like an eight-year-old, talking to others of his age. I make some allowance: if this plays well in elementary school, it's doing some good - but i don't enjoy watching it.

There are some good ones, though. I prefer BBC productions as a rule. A favourite around here was Rough Science. I also quite like The Bone Detectives - I guess because of my past occupation, and what I like about that is pretty much what was wrong with the much sexier Bones

26 minutes ago, Ken Fabian said:

There are some SF writers (of novels) that I enjoy a lot but very little of TV or cinema SF can grab me; it is the ones that don't take themselves seriously, that are unashamedly fantasy or comedy or both that are most likely to appeal to me.

The Martian; Apollo 13; Galaxy Quest

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7 minutes ago, Ken Fabian said:

I'd put documentary above SF - they at least attempt (the ones I'm tempted by) to be factual, but I find I struggle to keep watching the doco's too; the last time I tried the overly dramatic background music and awestruck narration was just too much. And I was familiar with most of the content, so not much that was new.

SF unfortunately presents a fantasy vision of Humans in Space that references the F of other SF far more than it references S. They get so much so wrong that I can't look past the mistakes. Whether back in my youth, when a space monster blocked the air intakes of the ship of Lost in Space - the Robinsons were going to asphyxiate (even then we thought it was stupid) - or my failed attempt to watch "Expanse", that others consider very good. Having the SF standard tyrannical and corrupt UN running Earth badly was mildly irritating (I know most people who like SF will be Americans who have been taught to dislike and distrust the UN, so it hits their buttons) and there is an independent and powerful Mars (it's inevitable, right?). These are the kind of tropes that get used to suit viewer tastes I don't share. But it was the water shortage on Ceres that lost me. Seriously? They are a major mining operation but they don't know you can heat carbonaceous chondrite material and get water? And don't they do recycling?

There are some SF writers (of novels) that I enjoy a lot but very little of TV or cinema SF can grab me; it is the ones that don't take themselves seriously, that are unashamedly fantasy or comedy or both that are most likely to appeal to me.

 

As I said previously in agreement, docos are certainly a level above sci/fi for obvious reasons. I just don't undertand why or how you let such little things like background music and "awestruck" narration get to you. By far my favourite narrator is Sir David Attenborough, and of course the late, great Carl Sagan, imo the greatest scientific educator of our time.

On 9/20/2021 at 8:33 AM, beecee said:

While I am a lover of good sci/fi movies, I am of the opinion that more true to life doco's, such as "First MAN", Cosmos, and NASA getting a good/better PR department to sell its products in a better fashion would be instrumental in garnishing more interest in NASA and science in general. A start at primary school would be beneficial. While "First Man" isn't a doco, it is a reasonably factual movie.

Of course sci/fi movies will have some errors in science, and certainly some are worse then others, but isn't that why they are called sci/fi? My favourite sc/fi movies were "2001: A Space Odyssey" head and shoulders above anything else, for its predicitve powers, and reasonable scientific accuracy. Others like "Mission to Mars", The Day The Earth Stood Still" 1953 version, Forbidden Planet and Gravity, were others. Excluding Gravity, the other three were more in line with the likelyhood of extra terrestrial life. Babylon 5 and the Star wars series, and Lost in Space, while in part enjoyable, I see as more fantasy then in any predicitve possibility. And of course, as we have argued before, the inevitable boots on Mars, is of course just that...inevitable. Time being the only debatable aspect.

I mentioned Carl Sagan earlier and as most of us will know, his series "Cosmos" has been redone and narrated by Neil Degrasse Tyson. Both series should be compulsive viewing for all children.

 

 

5 minutes ago, Peterkin said:

The Martian; Apollo 13; Galaxy Quest

The Martian, yes another I failed to mention that was excellent, and of course the excellent portrayal of facts in Apollo XIII. Havn't seen Galaxy Quest.

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33 minutes ago, beecee said:

I just don't undertand why or how you let such little things like background music and "awestruck" narration get to you.

The loud music, because we're old and do not hear as well as we'd like; if the background is noisy, we can't understand the dialogue. We've learned to turn down the volume and use the closed caption feature, which is more or less obtrusive. The only up-side is that I've learned to appreciate foreign programs. The awestruck voice normally goes with dumbed-down content.

For pure fantasy, we really enjoyed two series (Eccleston and Tenant) of Doctor Who - so we bought all of Torchwood and hated it. It's going to the next library sale, along with Fringe and The X Files, if library sales ever come back.

I rather foolishly bought all of Stargate Atlantis, because there is a lot of it and our internet goes down in bad weather. So many missed opportunities! They keep having shootout adventures instead of letting me explore that alien city. *sigh!*

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39 minutes ago, Peterkin said:

The loud music, because we're old and do not hear as well as we'd like; if the background is noisy, we can't understand the dialogue.

I'm an old bastard also, just turned 77 in fact, and the generally high standard of docos I watch don't uneccesarily indulge in that. Let me mention a couple that I think you may like, I did anyway...."Love and Bananas: an Elephant story" quite a moving doco that had me close to tears. "Blackfish" Another about Orcas, and the third is "Chasing Ice" Incredible beauty and photography illustrating pretty convincingly the warming of the planet and the finally "Journey To the edge of the Universe"...the first three, while not space orientated, are all excellent viewing, 10/10.

59 minutes ago, Peterkin said:

For pure fantasy, we really enjoyed two series (Eccleston and Tenant) of Doctor Who - so we bought all of Torchwood and hated it. It's going to the next library sale, along with Fringe and The X Files, if library sales ever come back.

Never was quite into the Dr Who series, don't ask me why, but did like the X-Files, although the producers of that show have a lot to answer for, with the rise in conspiracy nonsense with the gullible ones, and UFO's and anal probing Aliens...good entertainment though!

48 minutes ago, Peterkin said:

I rather foolishly bought all of Stargate Atlantis, because there is a lot of it and our internet goes down in bad weather. So many missed opportunities! They keep having shootout adventures instead of letting me explore that alien city. *sigh!*

Stargate another that didn't really sit too well with me, again don't ask me why...I do have all the Star Trek original series, and the New generation with Captain Picard, but thought the entertainment value dropped off somewhat after the Janeway Voyager series.

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Voyageur was okay. DS9 was better - more complex, more varied, better character development. That's what we're watching - again! - now.

Two things that annoy me about all ST series: aliens all come in Earth races and all habitable planets have the same air, gravity and vegetation; rs' nostalgia, interests and tastes are exclusively for 20th century earth art, technology and fashion. 

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19 minutes ago, Peterkin said:

Two things that annoy me about all ST series: aliens all come in Earth races and all habitable planets have the same air, gravity and vegetation; rs' nostalgia, interests and tastes are exclusively for 20th century earth art, technology and fashion. 

Yeah, agreed good point, although you maybe too young to remember one of the original TV Star Trek episodes....a silicon based life

Another was the Enterprise was always shown orbiting sideways...

 257 Starship Enterprise Photos and Premium High Res Pictures - Getty Images

 

Edited by beecee
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 Not only recall that series from a 12" B&W screen, but also the same problem. While each series encountered some truly alien life-forms, the humanoid aliens with whom the main cast ever got to interact were much of a sameness: same size, same shape, same life requirements, same hair in different arrangements, most the females even wear skirts. Skirts!!! They got a bit more creative with costume and makeup in Babylon 5, but thy were still all okay with Earth gravity and most of them still breathe oxygen.  I'm sort of reconciled to that - I sympathize with the logistical problems and the plight of the actors, even having all those funny noses and head-bumps glued on, let alone full Pak'ma'ra makeup. At least they tried for variety!  

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3 hours ago, beecee said:

Another was the Enterprise was always shown orbiting sideways...

Well spotted 😄 Never consciously registered with me. What did register though was the fact that all drive systems appear to be facing rigidly backwards...kind of hard to steer or decelerate that way 😏 Same issue in Star Wars and many other movies as well.

3 hours ago, Peterkin said:

I sympathize with the logistical problems and the plight of the actors

The other issue of course being that it is very difficult for screenwriters to even conceive of something that is truly alien in that sense, because we are trapped in our own frame of reference. Most sci-fi creatures are just variations on various animal/plant life, or on mythological archetypes such as ghosts etc. It’s very hard to imagine something that is scientifically feasible (at least in principle), and at the same time entirely alien.

PS. As a young kid I used to be captivated by Space:1999 and The Tripods. Nowadays these seem rather old fashioned and poor quality, but back in the day they were great! Star Trek and Star Wars as well, needless to say.

Edited by Markus Hanke
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1 hour ago, Markus Hanke said:

The other issue of course being that it is very difficult for screenwriters to even conceive of something that is truly alien in that sense, because we are trapped in our own frame of reference. Most sci-fi creatures are just variations on various animal/plant life, or on mythological archetypes such as ghosts etc. It’s very hard to imagine something that is scientifically feasible (at least in principle), and at the same time entirely alien.

PS. As a young kid I used to be captivated by Space:1999 and The Tripods. Nowadays these seem rather old fashioned and poor quality, but back in the day they were great! Star Trek and Star Wars as well, needless to say.

And what about films that talk about the dangers of artificial intelligence? For example, "Terminator". In my opinion, the film "Youths in the Universe", shot in the USSR, draws a much more realistic scenario associated with this danger.

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5 hours ago, SergUpstart said:

And what about films that talk about the dangers of artificial intelligence? For example, "Terminator"

Terminator didn’t really talk about the dangers of AI. It used that as the plot device to launch an action film in a sci-fi setting. 

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Colossus? 2010 was pretty good; in fact, one of the best depictions of AI and its potential problems.

My SO's constant, rankling beef about Star Trek is the "synchronous orbit" where you see the planet rotate by underneath, and yet they never lose contact with the away team. That, and the "full stop" - in space. Mine is: You've developed warp drive and teleportation, but lost the concept of seatbelts and lanyards.  

Oddly, these niggles never stopped us watching the shows.

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More a film buff than TV SF.   Films that really explore the deeper issues of,  say, AI.... Her,  Ex Machina, 2001, Moon,  Blade Runner, Bicentennial Man,  etc.   I don't list the ones with really bad science (the kind that get NDeGT to fire up an angry blog) like Chappie or The Matrix.   Like @Ken Fabian I find the science bloopers distracting.   

Not much TV AI stuff I'd really recommend,  though I'd say both "Humans" and "Westworld" really get into the deeper questions of AI. 

ST has always amused with its spotty science and uneven acting,  from Shatner's abdominal cramp emoting,  to the reliable dullness of Jonathan Frakes.   Funny,  I'd never noticed the Enterprise orbiting sideways.  Was never clear on why,  with their teleportation technology, they'd need a sick bay.   Just keep a data file of your healthy body in the transporter, then transfer the current brain into that when the body is damaged or sick.   Also,  make regular daily updates, "neural snapshots," of the brain,  in case it's also damaged.  You'd lose a few hours of memory at most.   

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Yes, but you'd be lumbered with all those doomed, unnamed extras we know will be be killed as soon as the ship is taken over (which happens with tedious regularity) by malevolent aliens. I used to find Picard's and Cisco's Shekespearean monologues annoying, but grew accustomed to them on third of fourth annoyed viewing. 

AI was problematic - just a step or two past the maudlin line - but I loved the robots. Hated Ex Machina but liked Simone; Westworld was a bit over the top, but great fun; really like Bicentennial Man (Williams' best performance, if only because of the restraint that must have cost him dearly)

I can forgive an entertaining film or series a lot of flaws. The only things I can't abide are blue-grey sets and smartass kids in the captain's chair.

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Back to the topic of the OP - these sci-fi shows tend not to depict realistic science/technology or exploration scenarios, so I have to wonder how they would generate excitement for that. It just seems like it would be a letdown to realize the parts that are made up aren’t possible in the foreseeable future or possibly ever.

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The fact that something is impossible to achieve in the near future doesn't necessarily  mean that a generation can't be inspired by it. Jules Verne wrote fanciful, impossible, often ridiculous science fiction that enthralled boys the world over from 1865 onward to speculate on space, the scope and possibilities of science, and maybe even what they themselves might accomplish someday if they studied science. They didn't get to the moon, but they did submerge deep under the ocean and explore the poles; they and their immediate descendants did discover and invent a whole lot of both wonderful and terrifying things along the way. 

Eventually, some humans did get to space, and the moon, and Mars is almost within reach. How many of the clever people working on those projects have been inspired in their formative years by unrealistic science fiction?

Edited by Peterkin
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On 9/21/2021 at 9:06 AM, beecee said:

I just don't undertand why or how you let such little things like background music and "awestruck" narration get to you. By far my favourite narrator is Sir David Attenborough, and of course the late, great Carl Sagan, imo the greatest scientific educator of our time.

If they were "little things" - rather than turned way up past 11 - I could look past the overly dramatic tone. The DeGrasse Tyson "Cosmos" was like that. And I might look past it if the content was up to my grade - which isn't claiming my knowledge is exceptional, just that of an interested adult. Like Peterkin says, for the target audience it probably works well. I am not the target audience. I enjoyed watching "SolarMax" for example - a doco on solar science and the solar cycle.

I got my Sagan in book form mostly - and yes, a great science educator. Attenborough is good too, although I am not a fan of presenters pretending to see the CGI reconstructions of extinct animals; it isn't the CGI that looks fake, just the presenter's pretense. Again a matter of tastes perhaps.

People hold up Gravity as being very realistic but it made serious mistakes that undid my perceptions of it being realistic - you can't tow another spacesuited person like towing a boat on a line... ie wobbling around behind them; if they tried that they would end spinning around each other at the ends of their tether, probably in both senses of the phrase. Better to lash their suits together and move as a single mass. No reason not to do it like that; it could've offered opportunities for lewd innuendo depending on the position, except that the moviemakers didn't seek good information about how one suit with jets could be used to do a rescue. And spotting a space station and boosting in that direction wouldn't work either; the suits needed some kind of course planning software and again there was no reason not to have done it that way, with opportunity for explanation for why you can't just aim and boost. But for the ignorance and misunderstandings and lack of research of the film makers.

For sure I was enthused during my youth by science fiction as well as the Moon Landing and space exploration that was going on at the time but the more I know the less likely I think these space programs will be stepping stones to making the grand space dreams - the fiction - come true.

The universe and solar system are awesome and those kinds of entertainment probably did prompt the enjoyment I get in learning more about them. If it encourages people to do science, I think it is positive but if it merely encourages unrealistic fantasies about space and new iterations of science fiction based on science fiction I am not so sure.

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