[Quickly written at 3 in the morning and not edited. What could possibly go wrong?]
I like to claim to read a lot of fiction. However, most of what I read, or care about is Sci-Fi.
Despite that I am not a big fan of Sci-Fi TV shows or movies – off hand the only ones that I can think of with fondness are ‘The Middleman’ and ‘Firefly’ – not a lot of depth in my case.
Part of the reason might be because I came to reading Sci-Fi early, but started watching it quite late. I didn’t watch the Star Wars as a child. It simply didn’t come to screen near us, or if it did, I was taken to watch ‘Hatim Tai’ and not Star Wars. Even now, other than Part 4, which I watched completely for the first time about a month ago, I haven’t watched any of the other movies in the series completely.
Till I went to college, I effectively didn’t stay in a household with cable connection, so the great 1990s boom of cable and US classic Sci-Fi in India passed me by. Didn’t watch Star Trek on cable when it was broadcast on Star TV or one of those cable channels. I had some idea about Dr. Who because the novelizations from the original series were plentiful and available really cheap.
But I grew tired of Dr. Who novels. I kept buying them because they were cheap, but I grew to find them less than satisfying. My problem is that with long running TV/Film series and occasionally with multi-volume fiction, the choices made early spoil my taste for it long term.
Sometimes it is errors – I had heard about the Kessel run a long time ago and that killed whatever interest I had in watching Star Wars. I am a pedantic fool, but I think I made the right choice. By the time I had the opportunity to watch Star Wars, the technology and the Star War inspired generation had produced enough that watching the original source material – the Star Wars – feels like watching a bad underbudget work. I understand the grand place it holds in the history of cinema – but for me personally I have lost all value that I could potential enjoy by watching it.
Sometimes it is not errors per se, but some off hand color element or perhaps even a key plot element that rankles. With most thing in life — including some of the bread and butter work that I see — I don’t expect strict internal consistency. But generally with Sci-Fi and Fantasy I expect a internal consistency.
I can’t really think of an example for this from a TV series, so let me talk about a book. I picked up the Vorkosigan Saga after reading a TVTrope page on Accidental Hero (the page which also led me to my deep obsession with WarHammer 40K novels staring Commissar Ciaphas Cain, Hero of the Imperium). I liked them, till suddenly one day around the Cetaganda volume (so, some six-seven books down), I thought to myself that that society doesn’t look like it would work. I’m sorry, I don’t remember what exactly was it that irritated me, but I remember a great conviction that the social set-up was essentially unstable. I’m not a social scientist and this was just a visceral response, but well, that is where I stopped.
I have a theory why it happens so often for me with long series. The writers multiply, and despite whatever overarching plots they may draw, the many cooks inevitably end with someone putting a pinch too much of nutmeg, and it drives me wild. The same thing happens with long series such as the Vorkosigan Saga.
Quite possibly I just am going the wrong way about enjoying these works.
You would protest that my most beloved series such as the Ciaphas Cain series and the Discworld series probably contain even greater crimes against my sensibilities. They probably do, but I luv them, and I’d forgive much in those series. Plus they are well funny, and the amount that I’d forgive for a laugh is huge. Why I waste my time watching British comedy shows even though the comedians are usually ignorant idiots because they are funny.