Thursday, April 23, 2015

Who You Going To Thank?

Why are science fiction and superhero films and television shows now the hot commodity? This is a question that I have pondered since the beginning of this period in TV and cinematic history. The period I speak of began a little over a decade ago in the year 2004. In fact, the history of speculative fiction-SF (sci-fi, fantasy, horror, superheroes) in video media has a marker which can be delineated by the acronym BBSG and ABSG - Before Battlestar Galactica - After Battlestar Galactica.

Before 2004 science fiction had a place in the world of the small and big screen but it was relegated to those fans lovingly, or sarcastically, depending on your point of view; referred to as nerds and geeks. Those filmgoers willing to stand in blocks-long lines hours, even days before a film like Star Trek or Star Wars would open for viewing. However, once that initial geek-gasm had been satisfied, generally after a couple of days, those films would languish in theaters and be stagnated by poor attendance and equally poor box office.

The Hollywood elite would also keep such films at arms length stating that they would never star in that type of venue because it lacked .... well, whatever they thought a film should have. The awards shows like the Academy Awards, Golden Globes and Emmys also kept them at bay but would usually give the production a token nod for special effects or some other such technical aspect of the film or television program.

That all began to change in 2004 when a well known writer and producer named Ronald D. Moore decided to reimagine a geeky television classic from the 1970’s called “Battlestar Galactica” (BSG). When I say Mr. Moore was well known, what I mean is he was popular among that same crowd willing to stand in those lines at theaters. To the rest of Hollywood he was this upstart from the world of Star Trek television productions out to make a name for himself beyond the nerd fringe.

Ronald D. Moore wore many hats in the Trek universe. He served as a writer, producer, consultant and even an actor. His resume looked like a Star Trek credit haven, having worked on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” and Star Trek: Voyager.” He even had a hand in the big screen productions of “Star Trek: Generations” and “Star Trek: First Contact.” It was looking like Moore would be a member of the Star Trek alum for his entire career, but then his desire to reboot “Battlestar Galactica” took over his creative life and the world of SF would forever change and benefit by his obsession.

BBSG you could count on one hand the successful and award winning SF movies and TV shows. ABSG the list has grown exponentially. I think it would be fair to say that Marvel and DC would still be hiding between the pages of their respective comic books had it not been for Moore’s BSB. There would be no big screen Iron Man or Thor. Superman would be relegated to generational reboots retelling the same origin story over and over to a new set of geeks; and Batman, well he would still be remembered for nothing more than a campy 1960’s over-the-top television show instead of such film masterpieces as “The Dark Knight” and TV’s “Gotham.”

Since Moore’s BSG, which itself garnered respect from every corner of the entertainment business, nominated for and winning Emmys in non-technical categories, being handed a prestigious Peabody Award, etc.; the science fiction, fantasy, and superhero genres in small and big screen productions have captured the imaginations of new directors, producers and writers. They have learned what the greats of the past, like Hitchcock, Roddenberry, Larson and Moore have always known, these genres are the best avenues for telling gripping stories that encompass mystery, thrills, action, suspense, morality tales and can address current political, religious and societal themes in a way that gets the message across without appearing preachy or threatening.

If you want to thank anyone for the kinds of great films and programming currently being viewed then look no further than the creative genius of Ronald D. Moore. Whether he was aware of it or not at the time, when he reimagined “Battlestar Galactica” in the dark and adult presentation that it became he literally changed the face of entertainment for an entire generation of moviegoers, television viewers and internet presentations.

Thank you, Ronald D. Moore.

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