"Lost" on ABC. "Battlestar Galactica" and "Caprica" on Syfy.
Science-fiction shows with critical acclaim, yet which heavily rely on religion.
Gone are the days when Gene Roddenberry shunned the inclusion of religion in "Star Trek." Today, it's not just politics in sci-fi, it's religion as well. And Airlock Alpha columnist Tiffany Vogt took some of television's genre creators to task saying enough is enough.
"Angels, purgatory, limbo and monotheistic/polytheistic religious wars -- each has its place in science-fiction, but they are merely an element," Vogt said. "They should not be the core of a science-fiction story. Relying too heavily on these elements in the place of true science-fiction only serves to alienate the very audience that such shows seek to engage."
But how much is too much? And did shows like "Lost" and "Battlestar Galactica" rely too heavily on religious, spiritual elements to get their point across?
"Locutus of Gourd," a poster at the TrekBBS who describes himself as an atheist, yet feels that religion works in television and movies, as long as it's properly integrated into the overall product and plotlines.
"I don't think including religion as an element in sci-fi ruins it," Locutus said, adding that he still derives a lot of enjoyment from shows that feature religion as an important element, like "Miracles," "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," BSG and the like. "It's all in how it's presented, and whether it's used for preaching at the audience, or for quality storytelling."
Vogt said that if over religious elements suddenly popped up in the Terminator franchise, or maybe even "Doctor Who," it would be out of place. A commenter on Airlock Alpha, "tcurran," agreed, but not exactly for the same reasons.
Terminator and "Doctor Who," he said, were not set up to have religious elements. "'Lost' and 'Galactica' clearly were," he said.
Besides creating seven pages of discussion at TrekBBS and other message board sites, Vogt's story was discussed heavily at the social news aggregator Reddit, where it drew more than 225 comments over the 36 hours since the column was first posted on Airlock Alpha.
One poster, known as "yogthos," said he agreed with Vogt's column, especially in terms of how "Battlestar" used religion.
"The reason I expect sci-fi is because it's what the show led me on to expect," he said. "The religious bits feel tacked on and don't really fit in with the rest of the narrative very well in my opinion. So, if the religious bits were worked in properly, they may not have been offensive at all. They could have worked in some theological questions, and have some episodes that explore the possibilities, and it could've been interesting."
Even Vogt herself joined in on the conversation on Airlock Alpha, saying she didn't want her original point to be lost in all the online debate: sci-fi shows should end with sci-fi elements, and not rely on religion.
"'Lost' and BSG would have been better off ending on a sci-fi note and not a religious note," Vogt said in the comments section of her column. "I was perhaps not clear enough in my article in clarifying that the religious debates throughout both 'Lost' and BSG were helpful in propelling the story. But they should have avoided ending on that topic. It undermined their success as groundbreaking, thought-provoking sci-fi shows."
Has religion become a crutch for sci-fi writers, or is this much ado about nothing? Share your comments right here.
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