Why Borders Are Pointless In SF Television

Senior Contributor
01.19.12 5 Comments

As you may know, our Congress is currently in the process of fleeing from Hollywood-written anti-piracy bills like lemmings as annoyed Americans weigh in on the process.

Meanwhile, if you want high-quality SF television, you find yourself faced with a severe irony: you’re perfectly willing to pay for it, but you can’t get at a lot of it, because it’s produced overseas. Either you import the DVD, you wait for Hulu or Netflix to pick it up…or you steal it. Because that’s the only way to get it.

A good example is the work of Charlie Brooker. If you’re not British, you don’t know him: he’s an exceptionally cranky TV critic who actually has a pretty sharp genre bent. “Dead Set” combines reality TV and zombies, and it’s better than the concept sounds: you can find it at Amazon Instant Video. And hopefully, at some point, “Black Mirror”, his three-part science fiction series, will come here.

But here’s the question: why not now? Here’s what we find baffling about shows, especially SF shows, crossing the Atlantic (and this is both ways: just ask British nerds): why aren’t they available to buy online or to stream from Netflix right after they air? Why can’t American nerds read about “Black Mirror”, go to Amazon, and drop six to nine bucks on the show?

Other shows, we get it, but with SF shows, it’s baffling. Your fan base are technologically forward and, more to the point, willing to pay for good material. And if you don’t have any broadcast or syndication deals in another country (and many private British networks don’t), then there are no rights roadblocks. If you want science fiction on the small screen, your options are pretty limited. So why aren’t we being catered to? Aren’t we the audience? Shouldn’t we be getting this stuff how we want it, when we want it?

Just something for networks to think about, on both sides of the pond.

image courtesy Channel 4

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