BLOGBUSTERS Sci-Fi Bitching

The “RAGEFACE!” edition, moderated by Alasdair Stuart

“No compromise, even in the face of adaptation.”

There’s a flash, a smell of burning, a lingering wail about how they just don’t get the spirit of the original and then he’s gone.

Or is he?

Fans are a curious breed because fundamentally we're all about enthusiasm. We love stuff and we love talking to people who love the same stuff we do and that leads to magnificent things like conventions and fanzines and creativity and message boards and us all getting our metaphorical cum by yah yahs out as we dance around our communal campfire like the Ewoks at the end of Return Of The Jedi .

You see what I did there?

The thing is, we also hate. A lot. We have long memories, remember every slight, every crime against the stories we love. And while we forgive, you have to earn it. So, join us as we embrace the dark side this week and ask:

With people still clamouring for Firefly to return years after its cancellation and the axing of classic Doctor Who still leaving a bitter taste in mouth of fans, is there a statute of limitation on crimes against fandom? Do you think it's healthy that fandom never forgets and a lot of the time never forgives?

Steven Ellis: If people still remember things with real venom and hatred then I suppose that can be a bit unhealthy... Holding on too tight is just a bit silly.

If it's a subject to bond with others over, like having a nice moan about the prequels (I presume I don’t have say which prequels) or lamenting on how good Firefly was over a pint in the pub then that's quite healthy. Other fandoms have similar moaning subjects: football fans moan about that goal being disallowed or that ref's decision clearly motivated by bias in the same way. Soap fans bitch about this or that character... It's all stuff to chat about and get an idea other people's opinions and likes and dislikes.

As I said: just a bonding exercise. There's no harm in having a moan now and then. But if you stalk people on twitter and insult them over stuff they did years ago or sit up at night wishing it had all been different then that's a bit too much and you should seek medical help.

I still have a bit of disappointment over the Star Wars prequels – I even re-wrote them myself once. But these days it's more a case of just wishing they'd been done better. It's over ten years since The Phantom Menace now and the naff films have led to better Star Wars things like The Clone Wars cartoon, which I've blogged about , so guess I got over it.

I'll still have a good long rant if the subject comes up in conversation with geek friends but I don't have sleepless nights over it. I see George Lucas comes in for a lot of stick over everything he does and some people just won't let it go, and I just think, “Let it go now... Life goes on. There's always something new to have a moan at...”

Kelly Harker: There's nothing wrong with being passionate about what you love. Browncoats are fanatics, but the conversation between fans surrounding Firefly is very positive. I'm a Browncoat and I think it's neat to be involved in what feels like a little community because of a show; feeling connected to people from all around the world who love something as much as I do is special. Everyone is still talking about Firefly because there's still so much to say about it, and still so much to learn from; it's a series we want to model our lives after. The conversation is still going strong, and will be for a long time because it's done in a positive, inclusive, and fun way.

I think fandom can go wrong when there is an extreme sense of entitlement. When things don't go exactly the way the fans want, there is a negative reaction such as threats or verbal abuse made towards performers, writers and directors, and that's just not cool. Let's keep the fandom positive and fun, people! Dong ma?

John Cooper: I have the objectivity to see both sides of this. I'll be honest, while I watched Buffy, Firefly passed me by. I've met Whedon fans, but they need to get over the whole Firefly thing. Same with Star Trek and the “holodeck-gate” incident at the end of the Enterprise series – get over it. Likewise the Star Wars prequels: it was always going to be a law of diminishing returns.

However as an insanely staunch and passionate Doctor Who fan I know that when my opinion is asked on this matter that I am right all of the time. I just am. Deal with it. So then... Yes, it should have been cancelled in the old days. Steven Moffat can do no wrong. Yes we are in the midst of the second golden age of Doctor Who. Yes, there are episodes of the new series that are a bit pants (Oh, it's the Olympics, shall we go back “Fear Her”? Hmm, maybe not). Peter Cushing is not cannon. The McGann one-off is a good beer movie provided you've already had seven before pressing play. Yes, the Colin Baker era is a worth a second watch . McCoy's entire first series can be binned at no great loss. Yes, It is okay that the doctor can be played by a young man. Russell T was never big on details, or sound on science, but we must let him off and look at the bigger picture. William Hartnell's cultural attitudes are his own business. Bring Back McGann. Yes, we should all get excited about the photo floating around on Facebook with Doctor's 4,5,6,7 and 8 all in the same room at the same time. Jon Pertwee never turned down a free lunch, but he was always value for money. The fact that Colin Baker and Sly McCoy both wear crocs is not a conspiracy (though how come no-one’s come up with the headline “Croc-tor Who” yet? – ed). Peter Davison was the best Doctor.

In summary, to answer the original question, yes. Under my breath no; but publicly yes.

Laura McConnell: Ah, Firefly . So famous (and infamous) for so many reasons. How I love that show. I truly do. I'm a Browncoat through and through. I support Browncoat charities and I'm quite active in the fandom. But let me make one thing clear: I do not think there should be more Firefly . I've long since let that go. Between the difficulties getting the actors back together, finances, and, well, frankly the amount of time that has passed, I'm sceptical that it would work. Lightning doesn't strike twice, as they say. Even for Joss Whedon. Sorry, that's just how I feel.

I also truly think that part of what makes Firefly special is its short life. It's a sad little tragedy, that show, and that is part of its appeal. Firefly was cut down in its youth, and like James Dean, that somehow made it more famous. I have argued in many forums for this point, and I've always found a few like-minded folks out there. Firefly is near perfection as it stands, so to the fans who just won't let it go, I quote Henry Jones, “Let it go.”

Dave Golder (muscling in again because there’s something he needs to get off his chest): If there were a sci-fi statute of limitations then there’s one thing I'd like to stamp out: fans moaning that their show has been axed as if the networks have done it just to spite them. In 95% of cases they’ve done it, purely and simply, because the show has failed to find the audience it needs to sustain it. There’s no great conspiracy. It’s not done maliciously. It’s a business decision.

Studios don’t make shows to cancel them. They want hits. Sometimes they fiddle. Sometimes they do things which, in the long run, turn out to be to a show’s detriment. And occasionally, yes, they cancel a show that seems to be doing okay for the oddest reasons ( Angel ), or because they want to plough thier funds into a new project they think will be more successful. But bottom line is: hit shows don’t get cancelled (unless the makers feel they’ve come to a natural end or somebody key to the show dies or moves on).

Premature cancellation is almost always because of low ratings, and almost always justifiable from a businesses point of view so there’s no point in demonising the broadcasters. Good grief, there were Eternal Law fans earlier this year spitting bile at ITV for cancelling the show, but come on – its viewing figures were embarrassingly low. Same thing for Outcasts last year. “The BBC didn’t give it a chance to develop!” moaned fans, and admittedly the final episode showed signs of massive improvement. But what was the BBC to do? Commission a second series of a flop show on the hope audiences might improve? That wouldn’t have gone down well with the Board Of Governors. And high-paying advertisers would have been near impossible to find for a second series of Eternal Law . (And please don’t quote Star Trek: The Next Generation or Only Fools And Horses at me: contrary to popular belief their first seasons were not rating flops, both shows just went on to become far more successful later.)

Hell, I loved Awake this year. Adored it to bits. It got cancelled. I loved Century City a few years back. That got the axe. I don’t blame the networks, I blame the American public for not watching them. Even that’s not entirely true. You can’t force people to watch what they don’t want to watch.

And anyway, for all that we moan about Fox cancelling sci-fi shows, it’s gone above and beyond the call of duty in supporting Fringe.

Rant over.

So there it is, fandom – its arm is long, its vengeance is certain but if you're nice to it, it will make you woolly hats and write songs about you forever. Some call this The Whedon Manoeuvre. We call it the Be Excellent To Each Other Directive because we love the Bill & Ted movies. Your mileage may vary.

And speaking of mileage, join us next week as we put the pedal to the metal and the dilithium crystals to the warp core with this question:

If you could choose a single steed or vehicle from all of genre fiction to ride, what would it be?

And on that bombshell, as the man says, we'll see you in seven.