From Star Trek to Fringe, J.J. Abrams has more than a little experience when it comes to science fiction. But there’s one thing that still drives him absolutely nuts about genre stories.
Never content to have less than a half dozen TV shows on the air at one time, Abrams is prepping the launch of new Fox series Almost Human, a future-set cop series that looks to fill that Fringe void in our hearts (and schedules) quite nicely.
While out talking up the new project, Abrams opened up with Time about something that drives him crazy about future-set sci-fi stories — the use of too much modern dialogue that probably won’t be around in a few years, much less a few decades.
Here’s an excerpt from his comments:
“I don’t often kick my feet up and ponder what it’ll be like 50 years from now, but I find myself — whether it’s been working on movies like Star Trek or a series like Almost Human — I do find myself asking what do I believe about what could happen. Frankly, one of my biggest pet peeves is the use of certain phrases that I just can’t for the life of me believe will exist five decades from now.
Even little things. If you read a story about a hard drive, it’s like, There won’t be a hard drive! I’m not saying there won’t be a version of a memory cartridge or some obvious equivalent. If you’re telling a story about the future, we’re going to be bipeds, we’re going to be wearing clothes, we’ll live in structures, we’ll consume comestibles, we’ll inhale oxygen. They’re all things we know we’ll maintain. The truth is that almost every relationship — whether it’s between people or people and their work — there will always be these analogous situations you can get. The thing that drives me crazy is when it’s a literal connection to what exists now.
When you think on a day-to-day basis how many little things we might say or refer to that if 30 years ago someone had said to you, ‘You know, I’ll text you in 10 minutes,’ you’d be like, ‘What’d you say?’ It would almost be like alien talk. You have to think in terms of practical dialogue. Producing a TV show or movie, there are just going to be certain phrases and terms that will be completely alien to us now, if we heard them from the future.”
Abrams makes some pretty good points, but there are two sides to that coin. Sure, you want your dialogue to accurately reflect the future world you’re building — but you also need the modern-day audience to be able to follow the dialogue. It’s all about finding that balance between old and new, something Joss Whedon did to positively perfect effect with his short-lived Firefly series (shiny!).
What do you think of Abrams' peeve? Does this drive you nuts as well?
Almost Human debuts Nov. 17 on Fox.