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Sci Fi Often Gets Short Shrift on TV, But Finding New Life on Cable, Streaming

ABC's Lost Poster

The ABC sci-fi show ‘Lost’ was one of the most successful on commercial television. (Photo: ABC)

Sci Fi on TV has always had a rough go of it. I guess the most successful examples are “Star Trek” and ABC drama “Lost,” with “The X-Files” riding close behind. TV’s last big, sci fi epic, the time-traveling show “Timeless” was cancelled once, then renewed, than cancelled again.

NBC announced several months back that it’s given the show a proper two-hour closer; which is usually not the norm.

This year’s sci-fi entry is TvT’s “Manifest” on NBC. A plane disappears for five years, then re-appears, with the souls not having aged a day.

The show is well done by creator Jeff Rake, with a ton of fresh faces. Good show, but episodes go on and on, and nothing is revealed easily.

Sounds a bit like “Lost,” also about a plane crash that veers into the supernatural. Yes, but nowhere near the quality. In “Manifest’s” most recent episode, a shadow-government is briefly teased as the reason for the missing plane. Hmmmm.

That’s been a major problem for audiences; even if they like sci-fi, they’re reluctant to invest in watching regularly for fear the show will be canned, without proper closure.

I watched “Millennium,” “The Whispers,” “Fast Forward” (great one!), “The Event,” “The Dome,” “Jericho,” “The Expanse,” “Being Human,” “Fringe,” “Heroes,” “Incorporated,” “Lost Girl,” “Warehouse 13” and “Revolution.” I really loved them all.

But ABC’s “Lost” certainly grabbed the headlines and intrigue as to what a proper sci-fi show should be: great writing, great mysteries, and, perhaps, most important, a great cast.

I recently watched the pilot again and found it to be as irresistible as I did when I first saw it. Dated? Perhaps, but the characters, their stories and the intrigue were spot-on.

Interestingly, as the streaming and cable offerings increase (everything from Netflix to Amazon Prime), the choice of sci-fi shows seems to be increasing.

Maybe they figure that an audience suited for Netflix and other streaming services is just a tad more targeted for sci-fi.

And, don’t forget CBS’ new pay net, All Access; it has “Star Trek: Discovery.”

So, maybe there’s hope after all. I’ve always liked sci-fi; hopefully presenting a positive future for mankind. Lord, we need it now more than ever.

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