It’s a question many people have been pondering for quite a few years. Gone are the hey-days of Star Trek: The Next Generation and the subsequent Nineties sci-fi boom. The arrival of multiple Star Trek spinoffs, Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda, Stargate SG-1 and a plethora of dozens of other sci-fi shows seemed to herald the dawn of a new Golden Age of a more pure science-fiction.
Yet today, we’re left with a fraction of the science-fiction which used to grace our television screens. Battlestar Galactica and Stargate Atlantis have both just finished, and other shows such as Firefly or Threshold were shot down before they really got going.
So why have these shows fallen into decline? Twenty years ago, Star Trek was a guaranteed ratings winner, drawing in millions of viewers and a massive market share. As the latest television incarnation of the franchise – Star Trek: Enterprise – came to an end, it was left with a fraction of the viewing numbers its predecessors had enjoyed. Enterprise‘s decline has been written about in more than enough detail, and its death can be attributed to any number of factors: lack of advertisement, lacklustre plots or perhaps simply too many episodes of the same franchise without a break.
Yet Enterprise is reflective of a much wider problem for the genre. The few genre shows which have succeeded in recent years have attempted to blend their traditional sci-fi elements with elements of other genres.