Sunday, September 07, 2008

It's Good to Be a Fantasy Author Right Now...I Think

As I was putting up the video of "True Blood" I began to think about all the TV shows that have sprung up lately based on fantasy/paranormal fiction that have had mixed results. You can't have missed The Dresden Files based on the popular series of books by Jim Butcher. For what it's worth I liked this series and was sorry to see it go. The Sci-fi channel claimed the show wasn't drawing good ratings but I'm inclined to listen to rumors that say the Sci-fi Channel isn't run that well, especially after the cancellation of BSG and the addition of the awful "Painkiller Jane" (which proved to have a short shelf-life of its own). But going back to my original point, "The Dresden Files" was based on a very popular series of books that features a main character who is a wizard-- though not in the Harry Potter style. "The Dresden Files" is pure urban fantasy and I think it must have made its way onto TV because of the current paranormal craze in fantasy fiction. But if "The Dresden Files" isn't enough to convince you that paranormal fiction is hot right now, then lets move on to Blood Ties based on the series, featuring modern-day vampire Henry Fitzroy, written by Tanya Huff. This particular series has an ambiguous future since no one seems to know if there is going to be a third season. It hasn't been official cancelled, as far as I can tell, but they haven't announced a new season. But still, the show made it on the air, right? Somebody decided that vampires were it, and rather than come up with another lame (IMO) show like "Moonlight" they decided to base the show on a popular series of books. That makes sense doesn't it? Built in audience? Um, still waiting to see how that worked out. Well, there must still be some people out there that think paranormal series' are worth gambling on. Charlaine Harris got a great deal, as far as I'm concerned, with her books being translated into a TV series on HBO. True Blood. I have been a huge fan of Harris for years and I can only wish her success with this series; and with Anna Paquin as the star and it being broadcast on HBO, I'd say she's got pretty good odds. But maybe I'm being rash in assuming that only paranormal fiction is what people are buying right now. Terry Goodkind sold his "Sword of Truth" series and it's due to be broadcast on Nov 1st in syndication under the title Legend of the Seeker. This is a fairly violent series, so I'll be interested to see how a big network handles the story. I gave up on the books a long time ago, but I've give it a go on the small screen. But wait, Goodkind isn't the only author of epic (or really really long and drawn out) fantasy to see their story make into a small screen adaptation, George R.R. Martin has sold the rights of his "Song of Fire and Ice" series to HBO, though I'm still waiting to see how that develops. What is being said is that the script has been developed but I haven't heard that filming has started. What's the point of all this? I'm not sure. I guess I was just noticing that a lot of books that I have read seem to be making their way to TV, but not always staying on the air. I hate to think this is a problem of style or genre, especially since shows like "Heroes" or "Lost" seem to be hanging in there-- makes me wonder if a show has to be on a major network to really have a shot. Anyway. But who knows, maybe it's always good to have a successful series. Well, that's obvious I suppose. But "The Lord of the Rings" and "Harry Potter" have done rather well and I guess Hollywood is always looking for the next big thing, so why not look at the fantasy aisle. I just hope some of these new shows have a little more longevity than the last ones...

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Legend of the Seeker will not be shown on ABC--it's a syndicated series. But it is being made by ABC studio's syndication production arm.

Robert Williams said...

I've always loved the fantasy/sci-fi genres, books, movies, tv series, what ever. There was a time when you couldn't find a good series on TV though, that actually had a descent budget for effects and all that. There was Star Trek and one or two others that hit the main stream, but I was watching Dr. Who back when you could still see the wires, but you didn't care because you enjoyed the show. My whole point though is that at least our favorite genres are hitting the main stream these days! :) Hope for the future? hehe

SQT said...

Anon

Thanks. I didn't realize it wasn't being broadcast by ABC. I'll correct that.

Robert

I'm always happy to see fantasy/sci-fi on mainstream TV. One always hopes it'll be good, but the attempt is always appreciated.

Charles Gramlich said...

Do you think Buffy really upped the level of this? Maybe Buffy and the X files. I see the new Fringe looks like an updated X-files.,

SQT said...

Charles

I totally agree. I've said before that I "blame" Buffy for the recent vampire craze. In fact, I think a lot of current paranormal fiction borrows a lot from Buffy.

I think Fringe is being packaged as the next X-Files. I'm looking forward to seeing it, posting about it and seeing what other people think.

Fantasy Guy said...

From what I can tell, the pilot episode looks promising and I look forward to watching it tomorrow night.

We all know mythology based shows can tricky to pull off. I wish them the best and hope it will be a show in which I become glued to the TV with.

Steve Malley said...

Purely and entirely my own little problem, but the way we all unconsciously (or semi-consciously) look to movie- and television-adaption as the measure of a writer's success, well, it really grinds my gears.

On the one hand, I hate that putting a story on a screen somehow legitimizes its author.

On the other, I hate the thought of how many of my favorite writers have to choose between packing groceries and eating oatmeal by candlelight...

SQT said...

Steve

I don't think that a TV adaptation means the author is good, just popular. But I admit. If it was me, I'd sell and not worry about the finances.

SciFiGuy said...

I quite like Terry Goodkind's series and I respect Sam Raimi but I am worried that the dark and intense heart of the series will be too diluted given that it will be aired on broadcast TV not cable and is brought to you by the team that produced Xena and Hercules which were pretty much played for yuchs.

SolShine7 said...

The new design is great! The other bright one bothered my eyes so I didn't come by as much as I'd like to. I'll have to submit some new posts over here. :)

Kate S said...

Wow, I really am out of the loop. I had no idea they were making a TV series out the Sookie Stackhouse books. I just finished reading "From Dead to Worse" tonight.

weenie said...

I haven't read all of the Sword Of Truth books, though planning to pick up where I left off (book 5 I think) and am interested in the TV adaptation. However, I really can't wait for George RR Martin's Song of Fire & Ice series, love the books and I know I will love to see my favourite and not-so favourite characters come to life!

Brian Rathbone said...

Turning these great fantasy works into great television will certainly be a challenge. We can only hope that the true sense and feel of these stories will translate to the small screen. I just watched the trailer for Legend of the Seeker, and I'm hopeful. It's nice to see good fantasy stories getting out to a broader audience.