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|Index||19 reviews in total|
It's so refreshing to get back to a show with some real, pure science
fiction. This isn't your "aliens, robots, and spaceships" sci-fi of
Star Wars (more properly called space opera), it's not filled with
meaningless techno-babble that grabs randomly at today's scientific
buzzwords like Star Trek, or your partly supernatural plots of The
Outer Limits, but short stories from proved science fiction writers of
the past several decades put to film, and so far it's well done.
It doesn't concentrate on special effects, but more the human questions, both spiritual and political, that advances in science or future fortunes force us to answer. That is the type of thinking man's (and woman's) science fiction that made the genre a success in America in the 1950's and when most of the greatest writers, and even the movie plots of today, got their start. It says, "What would YOU do in this situation?" "People can create androids that think. Do you treat them like humans?" Or "Aliens demand we decide whether we trust other nations or risk certain nuclear annihilation. What would you do?" So far the acting has been really good, using first rate movie actors, with the first episode starring Judy Davis, the second Terry O'Quinn, and the third Anne Heche and Malcolm MacDowell.
Unfortunately for the show I've seen a lot of negative comments about it from the self-appointed judges of all that is quality TV since it doesn't fit in the cookie cutter mold made for it by all the previous "science fiction" shows that showcase a lot of large breasted female cyborgs, space dogfights, laser gunfights, and alien forehead prosthetics. Seeking only escapist entertainment, they claim it has politics and real issues, so it must be worthless. I say, if it doesn't have those, what worth is it? But it is the only true science fiction show in recent years, and one that I intend to continue watching closely for as long as it is on.
I don't leave comments very often, but felt compelled to do so to give
some counterpoint to very negative comments.
It seems that you will either love or hate the series, and few people are indifferent in the sense that they rate it average.
Such is the case with my rating: 9 out of 10, mostly because the "Masters" is different and tries to go deeper. The fact that ABC discontinued the show after 4 episodes is either a good or a bad sign, depending on your viewpoint.
These are not stories that we have become used to where Science-Fiction is concerned. Obviously, for me, that is a good thing. These stories focus more on characters and character development, in the tradition of the great SF-writers of the sixties, and the casting is excellent - on the whole we have good acting from good actors to support the story, an absolute must in stories which rely on it.
I fear we will see nothing more than the 6 episodes I know at the moment I write this. It's a shame, but I'll content myself with stories published in the great SF-magazines.
In summary, probably only for a particular brand of Science-Fiction fans.
Writing a review for movies is challenging work because is hard to find
good model to compare with, and writing a review for SF story is more
challenging because there is no pattern for fiction itself.
Comparing Masters of Science Fiction with Twilight Zone or Outer Space is not good because they are mirror for times that are gone. Masters of Science Fiction is kind of mirror of our times and only on that way I can talk about this serial. Is it too political? No. Just turn on your TV and what you will see is politics everywhere. Even in commercials.
SF writers for decades try to imagine our future and give us warnings how to deal with future problems and how to live with each other and that are real messages hidden in this serial.
Masters of Science Fiction present to us 6 excellent stories about us and I only can say-THANKS.
The best short stories in sci fi found a place in this show, though
only for a short while, and a remarkable show it is. The stories are
generally well picked: fascinating, though with more of an emphasis on
the human condition than on a sense of wonder.
Each episode has it's own tone: dark or bleak, satirical or serious, philosophical or mystical. The acting so far has been outstanding. The show has a lot of similarities with The Outer Limits which I also adore but really that show had strong episodes countered by weak ones. Here, it's six episodes (two never aired) that are all not only very entertaining but also very memorable.
I must say Stephen Hawking's voice doing the intro's and outro's doesn't add much, because of two reasons: his voice is simply not very personal since it's purely mechanical and really he's just saying what we already get to see in the beginning of episodes or what we got to see at the end, making conclusions and asking questions that are already in our minds by watching the show. Because it's an intelligent show and despite each episode being stand alone, it offers far more depth than most other sci fi shows and that is not an easy feat.
Two thumbs up and again, what a shame to see a genuinely good show go. Oh, the fate of most great sci fi shows...it would be insufferable if there weren't so many other shows worth watching.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
From the first sight this show is very different from the others sci-fi
shows. The difference in a nutshell - no running, no shooting, no
fighting. Instead of it - thinking. No wonder many of the US watchers
have found this show "boring" and switched to more usual time killers.
It seems that creators of the show tried to make people think. And subjects happened to be uncomfortable and hard. Why do we fight each other? Why don't we see that all is connected, that all people are the same, that we all are the same humans. And what is the human, anyway? How one human can think that he is better than other, that he knows what others should do?
Great SF masters brought up these questions.
In the series American presidents shown as a representatives of the Americans attitude - they are stronger, they are better, so they could dictate other people and tell them what to do. And of course, the consequences of such delusions are also shown - as the results of the nuclear world war (Clean Escape), or the world just on the brink of war (The Awakening).
Those and other important questions are described in the books these series are based upon. But unfortunately, they are too heavy. And the watchers need something lighter. Don't think, just watch - nowadays motto.
While it is so, the happy days of humanity are still far away.
There is a reason why 'Masters of Science Fiction' didn't last a full
season when first trotted out on ABC.
There's nothing in the collection of short stories badly translated to television that the original 'Outer Limits' and scant few Sci-Fi oriented episodes of 'Twilight Zone' from the 1960s didn't deliver with infinitely better precision.
'Masters of Science Fiction' more closely resembled the consistently bleak and down beat, over all inferior episodes of the re-vamped 1995 'Outer Limits'.
Though 'Masters of Science Fiction' no doubt boasts better talent and larger budgets. The screen writers, directors and cast should remember that when trying to deliver a 'message'. The subtlety of a feather works far more favorably than bludgeoning with a brick!
Masters of Science Fiction, now showing on ABC, takes short stories
from award-winning Sci-Fi authors and adapts them into hour-long
television episodes. It advertises itself as a successor to The
Twilight Zone and Outer Limits, in their day, had a similar format, but I'm not sure how devoted they were to using pre-existing material. It seems to me that many of the episodes for TZ or OL were written _for_ the show rather than _before_ the show. Herein lies what may be the problem for this series: Adaptation. Think of the problems people have when their favorite novels get turned into horrid screenplays, and make those problems TV-sized.
I happen to actually know the author of the first episode's short story (John Kessel, one of my professors), and I have not had a chance to hear his take on it. But from someone who is familiar with his writing style (although I had not read this particular story), I can say honestly that I saw traces of Kessel's style here. I imagine that the story he wrote was quite good; after all, the _story_ of the first episode was quite good.
But the lens of adaptation botched it for me. Acting was heavy-handed. Background music was over-dramatic and annoying. The teleplay made the "BIG SECRET" try and shock the audience, rather than letting the truths of the setting become a course of discovery.
On a side note, as much as Stephen Hawking is a genius, he would be a much more comprehensible narrator if his narration were subtitled. He is an appropriate choice, but his mechatronic voice is terribly difficult to understand.
If my fellow commenters happen to view this episode again, I would encourage them to not see it in a political lens. I don't want to give away any spoilers, but what is shown in "A Clean Escape" is not a Liberal/Conservative issue, but a Moral one. Don't assume that this is some ABC Liberal propaganda or nonsense of that kind.
I reserve some hope for the rest of this series. The first episode disappointed me, but ABC can make excellent shows. They can also make terrible shows.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
One thing that should be noted about this series is that all the
episodes have a moral in them, which means you have to think (and
watch) them to at least understand them - as there is very little
action in any of the episodes (just usually dialogue between 3 or 4
people), no doubt the XBox generation will fail to understand (or
follow) most of it.
Each episode takes a story from a science fiction writer and usually modernises it - its probably not always a good idea as the original story usually conveys it message better.
Special effects are adequate - probably more was spent on the well known actors the CGI and prosthetics, and it does show sometimes, but it doesn't really hinder the series.
It is amazing there was nothing chosen from Asimov or quite a few other writers.
Overall, its a lot like The Twilight Zone, though without the twist ending.
they did obviously not choose the stories for their content, but for
their ability to be filmed in not much more than one room and without
any special effects.
virtually every outer limits episode is more interesting than any of these.
also every science fiction short story i ever read (and they are not a few) was better than these episodes.
grabbing any random science fiction anthology and converting it into to a mini series of this kind would have given a much much better result.
what was stephen hawking thinking? i consider him intelligent. probably mo-ney mo-ney mo-ney.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Every episode I watched was depressing, somber and/or sad. The future can be bright. It could be hopeful. There could be fun. But in this series. Yes SF can be used to point out ethical problems, social short comings and failings of mankind in general, however this is supposed to be entertainment. I think entertainment should be fun. There is no fun here. That is why I think it failed as a show. If you do decide to watch it make sure you have some Valium. My advice is don't watch it. The acting is fine. The production pieces (SFX, sets, costumes, etc..) are fine to get the story across. It's just that they are all depressing stories.
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