HBO loves to dabble in the fantastical. Before I go further though let’s pause to look at the root word – “fantasy.” It is defined as a genre of fiction that commonly uses magic and other supernatural elements as a primary focus of plot and theme and often is set in imaginary worlds. Of course, two productions on HBO in 2012 fit into that definition; GAME OF THRONES and TRUE BLOOD.
I’m sure no one needs reminded that all the war and political intrigue that gripped us in GAME OF THRONES did not take place in Medieval Great Britain. With all the real and raw human emotions playing out onscreen could there have been viewers forgetting the show actually takes place in a world made up by George R. R. Martin. A few dragons making an appearance now and again, however, reminds us that this is all a fantasy.
TRUE BLOOD, on the other hand, takes us down into the heart of Louisiana USA, but what makes it a fantasy is the first part of our definition. There are unnatural beings about. We have our favorites whether they are the vampires, fairies, werewolves, shape shifters, witches or even the occasional maenad. Their plight as misunderstood and feared souls has captured us. And HBO has reveled in presenting these tales of worlds not quite like our own.
Two other HBO shows also come to mind as series with a fantastical bent. These shows are unique and, alas, short-lived ones from HBO’s not so distant past. Remember CARNIVALE and JOHN FROM CINCINNATII? Though they seemed to be stories from this world there seemed to be supernatural elements afoot that made you wonder and left me glued to the TV. The argument could be made that these two shows are more mystical in nature, but for me that is just splitting hairs. They were fantastical to me. Even possible future shows AMERICAN GODS and THE DARK TOWER are fantasy.
How about the other side of the coin? HBO gives us fantasy, but where is the science fiction? Now, I don’t claim to be a big sci-fi geek but I think it is time that HBO ventures into this genre. How about you? Let’s get a definition to suit our needs first. Science Fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but scientifically sound content most often dealing with future science, space travel, aliens and the like. Now that HBO has some big fantasy based shows how about a SF oriented one?
As is proven with GAME OF THRONES and TRUE BLOOD a show can hold its weight despite the genre. As long as a series is given the HBO treatment then it should be able to be set anywhere even the future or in space. For example, think how Syfy’s BATTLESTAR GALACTICA would have played out as an HBO series. And there lies a dilemma. What property should HBO acquire? It appears that the company prefers its tent pole series to have some literary weight to them as opposed to generating an original idea. So, let us, for fun, throw out a few ideas.
How about Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers.? It is military science fiction as future us war with alien bugs. Think of it as BAND OF BROTHERS in the future. Closer in tone to GAME OF THRONES and maybe too similar to be developed is Frank Herbert’s Dune. It is political intrigue between Houses mainly set on a desert planet and instead of dragons it requires sandworms. How about Barberella? I only mention it because a reboot of that Jane Fonda vehicle is actually being developed. With HBO’s penchant for nudity think of the wild space sex they could show! Go ahead and plug in any of your favorite choices here – Weldon’s Firefly or Alien/Prometheus with Ridley Scott attached? Is there a Warner Bros. science fiction piece that would be intriguing? There are plenty of ideas in Science Fiction worthy of the HBO treatment. For now Fantasy is well represented, like TRUE BLOOD airing now. Maybe, it is just a matter of time for quality Sci-Fi to hit the channel. Anyone have thoughts about the right SF property for HBO?