Reverse Robotics?

During some discussion of Falling Skies on Twitter ( full disclaimer, I get incentive points to talk about it, but honestly, this is just me being excited about a show and an idea), a new thought suddenly occurred to me. It was way too long for 140 char, so here we are.

In the new show Falling Skies, there are several types of alien creatures:

Skidders/Skitters/Critters are a 6 legged, insectoid slimy faced creature that are often found hunting out free humans or guard/herding “harnessed” humans

Harness: I  am including the harness that is found on alien captured humans as an alien ( although maybe just an alien construct) because it wiggled a bit when the free humans tried to remove one- it seems to be alive at some level. Amount of intelligence unknown, but it controls the human it is attached to in a puppet fashion.

Mechs: These are large mech/robotic type beings. 2 legged, gun toting typical Sci Fi mechs

Flyers: We have not seen a lot of these yet, and none with lots of detail, but we know they have heat sensors, appear when heat indicates a bunch of humans have gathered or built fires in the open and then obliterate them. The implication is that something is flying them.

Control Towers/Mother: ( ok, this is my name. No one has named the structures looming over every major city, but they are certainly implied as a central system of some sort.

In the Pilot, there is a comment made that it is thought provoking that the Skitters are 6 legged creatures, but have made 2 legged mechs. The character notes that usually creatures would make a mech to drive that matches their their mode of locomotion. I would agree this is true, if the creature is riding inside the mech.

Now here is a thought to twist your brain around.

What if this is more a case of skynet to extreme? What if the machines are intelligent and the biologicals are their creations/tools.

As Sentient Bipedal Biologicals, we build tools that augment us or reach places/have capabilities that we do not. We build mechanical things- multilegged robots, robotic harnesses and exo-suits, etc. We even take highly intelligent AIs and “enslave them” to compute for us.

What kinds of augmentation/tools would Sentient Mechanicals need? Seems like creating biological tools/robots/constructs would be the correct reverse robotics.

My brain is enjoying this line of thought… I will be anxious for next week’s show to see if my theory stands up.

What’s wrong with FlashForward

The new Fall 2009 show FlashForward was one that lots of people wanted to like and whose premise was initially exciting. It has, however, fallen flat. People not actively slamming it have given up on it. I tried again this week to watch it…but find it so uncompelling that it is easy for real life to interrupt. For many shows, I may hit pause on the DVR when I am interrupted and come back. With FlashForward, I walk away without hitting pause and do not have any qualms about missing pieces of it. This is not a good sign for the life of show.

The show has interesting characters and takes on compelling philosophical issues- so what went wrong? This last episode finally gave me some insight into the problem when they introduced yet another character. The show now has over a dozen major characters in a one hour show. With the average show running actual time about 45 minutes * 9 episodes, that comes out to just a little over 33 minutes of airtime per character over the course of an entire season. Not a lot to become invested in characters. Even worse, all of that time is in small 4 or 5 minute bursts. The story, while compelling, has been made overly complex to the point that the storytelling is fragmented, fractured and not even close to fun.

What other shows have failed you this season- giving in to complexity, special effects or shock value rather than building upon great storytelling??

Perfect SciFi Setup Scene

We zoom in on a couple driving east in a car on a countryroad. It is 4am. There is barely a sliver of a moon hanging in the sky. It is very dark.
The camera picks up a large flash and streak of light low on the horizon in the direction tey are driving.
Her: Whoa, what was that?
Him: Meteorite
Her: It started so low, and almost seemed to land right over there… ( she points vaguely north east)

At the same time, a possum runs onto the road from the direction she pointed, speeding straight into the path. Thud. Bump Bump. There was no avoiding it.

Without warning, a literal flood of small animals start darting into their path from the direction of the “landing”. The car starts to gather residue from the bunnies, raccoons, foxes, possums, squirrels, chipmunks, etc..) who all have a certain air of frightened “FLEE” and a complete disregard for the vehicle they were running straight into…