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Masters of Science Fiction 

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A series adapting science fiction stories by well-known authors into sixty-minute episodes, introduced by renowned physicist Stephen Hawking. Stories filmed, included those of science ... See full summary »
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2008   2007  
Nominated for 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »

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 Jerry / ... 2 episodes, 2007
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A series adapting science fiction stories by well-known authors into sixty-minute episodes, introduced by renowned physicist Stephen Hawking. Stories filmed, included those of science fiction authors Robert Heinlein and Robert Sheckley, historical novelist Howard Fast, and mystery novelist Walter Mosley. Written by David Stevens

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Drama | Sci-Fi

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4 August 2007 (USA)  »

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Stephen Hawking's Sci Fi Masters  »

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$3,000,000 (estimated)
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1.78 : 1
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From the first episode, a show that may suffer from Adaptation.
7 August 2007 | by See all my reviews

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.

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.

6/10


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