Hugo Nominations – Best Dramatic Presentation: Short Form
Like comics, SF television is something I like in principle but rarely get a chance to consume and, when I do, I’m inevitably disappointed. I tried to make space to do a bit of research and watch a bit more in preparation for the Hugos but I failed.
Before moving onto the nominations I did manage to come up with, I need to discuss the category itself. I already talked about this a bit with respect to Best Dramatic Presentation: Long Form but there is an additional problem here. In practice, BDP:SF maps as directly to Best Television Episode as BDP:LF does to Best Film. But whilst it is fairly straightforward to compare films since they are discrete pieces of work, television episodes are usually installments in serials. Of course, films and novels can be installments too but these are both less common and less intensive (over a year gap between such installments appearing rather than just a week).
So what does this mean? Well, I had a long, unedifying conversation with Niall Harrison about this where he put forth various insane ideas. This clarified for me that the category isn’t very satisfying but there isn’t a better replacement so you ever dump it or re-name it to describe what it actually is. But since neither of these have happened yet, my nominations are on the current rules.
1) Black Mirror – ‘Be Right Back’
The first season of Black Mirror has the best British science fiction series of the 21st Century. The second wasn’t. Jonathan McCalmont – who is also nominating this episode – points out this was “due to Brooker’s decision to write all the episodes himself despite working on other shows at the time”. Given this is still my top pick for BDP:SF, imagine what he could do if he concentrated. Roll on the third season.
2) Gesaffelstein – ‘Pursuit’ (NSFW)
3) Utopia – ‘Episode 1’
Just before screening the second season of Black Mirror, Channel 4 debuted another SF series which turned out to be an even bigger disappointment. I’d hoped that Utopia would blend the attitude and wit of Misfits with the sustance of a classic British political mini-series like State Of Play. Instead it turned out to be Cold War conspiracy cobblers of the sort that so infects comics. But it deliberately building a television programme around the concept of a comic book, it does very interesting things with its cinematography – something usually completely ignored by SF telly. It also gets the tone right and the first episode tantalisingly hints at what might have been before it all collapsed.
4) Janelle Monáe – ‘Q.U.E.E.N.’
Huge thanks to Liz Batty for help with the music videos selections. I’d planned to give my fifth slot to something from Game Of Thrones, my current soap opera of choice, but I ran out of time so other YouTube suggestions welcome.