Saturday, March 27, 2004

Century City

I don't know if you heard about a new show on CBS called "Century City". It's not getting a lot of publicity, mainly because it's a mid-season replacement, but also because it's science-fiction. It's basically "The Practice" set in the future. It's about a law firm in the near-future. I didn't think much of it, especially since I had tried to watch "Mercy Point", a show that was "E.R." in the future a few years ago. I hated it, mainly because it seemed more "E.R." than sci-fi. I also flipped by "Century City" a few times, and it looked kind of cheesy. But after sitting down to watch a show last week, I now consider it groundbreaking. I don't know if it will survive, but it will definitely be remembered by scifi fans.

The real hook on "Century City" is that it portrays controversial cases that could lie ahead of us. For instance, a case where a dying man clones a baby for the sole purpose of harvesting its organs to save his life. Or a case where a child actor wants to be emancipated from his parents so he can take drugs that will delay his puberty and extend his career. Or an aging singer suing his old band because he was fired. The reason? He refused to use technology to fight aging, even though all the other members have made themselves look young.

The reason I call the show groundbreaking is that this is what science fiction is supposed to do, take us to somewhere different, and explore the current day. It's also a great idea. I mean, I can't tell you how often I've heard people discussing some new technology and speculating about the problems it will cause in the future. With "Century City", they can act out that scenario and deal with the ramifications in a dramatic way.

There are problems with the show, though. One is that the future they portray is kind of poorly-defined. Since they want to explore a variety of technological issues, they have to combine different levels of scientific advancement. it's a world where they have nanotechnology, but they still use doors. They use holographic judges for the pre-trial hearing, then go to a real courtroom with real judges. And they have holographic computer screens, but still use keyboards. It's doesn't feel consistent.

The biggest problem the show has is that it still looks cheesy. The sets are cheaply-made with goofy stuff designed to look "futuristic," without any real purpose. I didn't believe they were in a real future. The characters aren't too interesting either (i.e. no aliens), but "Law and Order" doesn't have interesting characters, so who cares?

I don't know if the show will last, but I want to catch as many as I can before it gets cancelled. It's good stuff.
Categories: entertainment