Bring Out Your Dead: The Science Fiction Disappointments Of 2012

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There was a lot to be excited about in the science fiction landscape during 2012. But in spite of kick-ass outings like Looper and Dredd, and a reinvigorated season of The Walking Dead, we also got stinkers like Battleship, the frustrating wheel-spinning of Alcatraz, and an ambitious misfire in the form of Ridley Scott’s Prometheus.

We already celebrated the sci-fi triumphs of 2012, so now it’s time to air our grievances. Bring out your dead!


Nick says: Alcatraz made promises on historically ambitious sci-fi that just didn’t happen. Though the elements from the prison’s past made for quite enjoyable crime-ridden vignettes, the modern-day cop drama, mixed in with the non-sequitur time travel and location-heavy impossibilities, failed to raise a pulse, and put Jorge Garcia in another Lost-inspired drama that failed to finish spectacularly. Quit wasting Sam Neill, television!

Brent says: Battleship is terrible in almost every way you could care to measure the quality of a motion picture. First off, how do you base an entire film on a board game with zero plot? Throw in goatee-wearing aliens that look like rejects from a Korn cover band, and special effects made up of what may have been swept up when Michael Bay finished his last Transformers movie, and you have one of the biggest busts of the year. Still, you can’t help but think director Peter Berg and everyone else involved know just how insanely stupid their movie is. No joke, the entire story hinges on a stolen microwave chicken burrito, so how could you not recognize that as farce? Battleship is like that really, really stupid kid. You know the one I’m talking about. He doesn’t know any better, so he’s completely stoked about everything, all the time, always. The enthusiasm is kind of infectious, and I feel like when we’re more evolved as a species we’ll recognize Battleship as a supreme work of satire. As bad as it is, it must be a joke, right?”

Rudie says: Battleship was also a pretty bad movie in the science fiction genre. It’s a rare example of a science fiction movie lacking any imagination or originality. This movie was just loud and lifeless. Yuck!


Mediocre Doctor Who
David says: As the weeks were leading up to the premiere of Doctor Who’s seventh season, showrunner Steven Moffat said that the first five episodes would be almost like self-contained mini-movies, and that was pretty accurate. We got to see the Doctor cross paths with the Daleks yet again, play around on a spaceship filled with dinosaurs, square off against a Western-era cyborg, and finally bid adieu to Amy and Rory. And while the show has a long history of excellent self-contained episodes, unfortunately the seventh season’s initial batch proved to be really, really mediocre. With the knowledge that the Ponds were departing and new companion Clara was on the horizon, these episodes felt like so much filler. It’s telling that the two most memorable parts of the first five episodes were Jenna-Louise Coleman’s surprise appearance in the premiere and a scene that wasn’t even filmed. The show also managed to thoroughly waste the considerable talents of Farscape’s Ben Browder, a nigh unpardonable sin in my humble opinion.

Thankfully the Christmas episode felt like a real shot in the arm, and Clara is already one of my favorite companions even this early in her run. The second half of the season promises to be great fun, but I just wish the first batch of episodes didn’t feel like the show was just coasting until it was time for the Ponds to leave.

Nick says: Take Luc Besson’s Lockout, a movie teaming with seemingly intentionally dumb characters in a dumb plot, and vice versa it with Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, a seemingly intelligent movie teaming with unintentionally dumb characters in an unintentionally dumb plot. Lockout, a film I enjoyed without any critical goggles on, could have used a better plot with a larger scope on which to unleash its rude and ridiculous sense of humor. It’s only a coincidence that Guy Pearce is in both of these films, because his role in Prometheus is amusing for a completely different reason.

Prometheus, beyond Fassbender’s stoic and smile-worthy accomplishment, was devoid of anything light or sincerely amusing, and used a spacesuit-bong as a cheap shot. (Admittedly, it worked for me.) But other than the gorgeous cinematography and CGI, a lot about it drew un-stoked chuckles, from those in the science community, and those outside. I didn’t bother watching The Watch after all the non-hubbub, so these were the two sci-fi movies of the year I thought I might like the best; and Cloud Atlas just excluded my pre-disposed thoughts. And while I sort of liked both space adventures, they could have used a shot of the formula of the other’s successes.


David says: Let’s be clear: I don’t think Revolution is a terrible show. Overall it’s been a mixture of so-so episodes with the occasional really cool bit thrown in. I’d be content to shrug and move on to something else if it wasn’t for one thing: series creator Eric Kripke. With Supernatural, Kripke created a great, addictive show that managed to get better with every new season while Kripke was at the wheel, a far-too-rare accomplishment when it comes to network television. To say that I had high hopes for a new Kripke series would be putting it mildly, and for me those expectations have just thrown the mediocrity of Revolution even more starkly into contrast.

Now the show is in the midst of a months-long hiatus that is likely to drive away many viewers who were on the fence about sticking with it. And that’s a shame, since the final few episodes finally felt like the show was getting around to the meat of the story — the actual Revolution of the title — as opposed to a weekly installment of “We Still Haven’t Rescued Danny Yet.” I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the show will rally in the upcoming episodes, but I’m also afraid it won’t be able to recover from the long hiatus. And honestly, if we’re just going by the first half of the season, I’m not sure it deserves to.

Star Trek Into Darkness Stunts
Brent says: Specifically, annoying stunts where people involved in Star Trek Into Darkness say they’re going to reveal new footage, but then pull a fast one on fans. I won’t say that all of us are super excited for Star Trek Into Darkness, the sequel to J.J. Abrams’ reboot of the beloved franchise, but quite a few of us are pretty pumped for next May. Abrams is notoriously stingy when it comes to doling out information about his movies in advance. As such, fans are starved for news, and rabidly cling to every announcement or report, searching for anything that resembles a scoop.

Given this near frenzied state, fans are susceptible to pranks, schemes, and flimflams. Every so often this year you heard about some member of the cast or crew about to reveal some secret morsel, some juicy tidbit about Into Darkness, only to check it out and realize you’d been hoodwinked. Admittedly, there are no ill intentions behind these shenanigans, and when Karl Urban said he was going to unveil footage from the film at Comic Con, then released a video of himself surfing, that was pretty funny. But by the time Abrams went on Conan and showed three frames, just over one-tenth of a second of footage, it felt tired. (I feel like there’s at least one other similar instance that I’m forgetting.)

I’m as much to blame for this as anyone else, especially since I’ve written about it at least twice in recent months, and we (fans) do tend to take ourselves a wee bit too serious at times. But guys, can we please call it a day with stunts like this? Thanks, your fans appreciate the thought.


Total Recall
Brent says: Len Wiseman’s Total Recall remake wasn’t as completely rancid as many initially feared it might be. While the reboot of Paul Verhoeven’s 1990 sci-fi actioner is never slow—keeping a high-speed pace is a good way to make you overlook glaring flaws and gaping holes—nothing can distract you from how the overwhelming emptiness of Total Recall. Nothing can make the movie anything more than completely unnecessary. All of this is to be expected, really. Wiseman is a style-over-substance kind of guy, and though Total Recall is slick and has all the bells and whistles, it lacks things like depth of character, emotion, or anything that goes beyond the surface level. Total Recall is most memorable for being totally forgettable.


  1. Havent heard of Alcatraz, I’ll have to search that one out. Battleship was ok, Prometheus and Total Recall were awesome. Rest are on the right list.

  2. Articles like this that pick apart sic-fi is part of the problem. We sci-fi lovers are so hard on ourselves. Yet on and on the reality shows go, in fact the worse they are the longer they survive. There are good things in each of these shows, perhaps an article about what went right in these shows. Or we can keep having one season series that never get a chance to show their potential.

    • The success of reality shows has not one whit to do with the success or failure of science fiction shows, at least not the quality of the content itself. Whether there is one American Idol or 1,000, that has nothing to do with whether the people making SF shows are capable of making GOOD sf shows. Network television is and always will be about bringing in the most eyeballs with the least expenditure. Your point would be valid if we were saying “These are the shows that didn’t do well in the ratings.” And if you’ll look at that title up there, there’s a reason I used the word “disappointments” rather than “things that should be cancelled.” Ultimately the business success or longevity of the things on the list isn’t the point. The point is that the each of them has/had potential that — so far — they have not really lived up to.

      All too often we hear people arguing that any critical analysis of genre shows is “picking them apart,” suggesting that we should just accept anything that vaguely fits into the label of sci-fi, simply because of its genre. That’s the sort of thinking that results in Battleships, and Total Recalls, and Transformers movies. If you’re satisfied with those things, more power to you, but as a lifelong science fiction fan, I prefer to expect better from my favorite genre. In my estimation shows like Revolution aren’t competing against whatever schlock is on opposite in the primetime lineup. They’re competing against Star Trek and Babylon 5 and Farscape and Firefly and The Twilight Zone. I’d love nothing more than for every new genre show to live up to that standard, but the reality is that is rarely the case.

      • Also other shows that were killed; Defying Gravity, Stargate Universe. But don’t worry folks! We still have another season of American Idol! *sarcasm My God, I so hate reality tv…

      • Such a foolish take. Shows have to be profitable to remain on the air, so yes it actually does matter if there is one American Idol or 1,000 because these shows are running rampant for the reason that they are so damn profitable.

        Genre shows are faced with not only angry sci-fi fans looking to nit-pick, but studio executives as well who are more then happy to pull the plug if people don’t want to support a given show because it is infinitely cheaper to produce another piece of reality schlock.

        So while I would love for those shows airing to prove themselves as good as some of the greats, I also think we should give a bit of slack, and allow a series the chance to grow into something, otherwise that serviceable-but-nothing-special show will be swapped out for the next honey boo-boo.

        • Jimmy Love says:

          Exactly right! and the only reason reality shows make so much money is that they are cheap! and that tells it all, the money makers will give us cheap crap and not invest time or effort into something that costs them more.

  3. Kapt says:

    I liked Alcatraz, wasn’t happy when they killed it off. I enjoyed Battleship. It was a movie made to entertain me. It did that, so I liked it. Never seen any Doctor Who. Prometheus was OK, nice surprise at the end I wasn’t expecting. Revolution so far has been really good. Can’t wait for Into Darkness!! Total Recall wasn’t bad. I kept hearing how terrible it was and after watching it, I think I liked it better than the original. So pfffft lol

    • beni xikeety says:

      These guys don’t know what they’re talkin about. Doctor Who is just awesome, you should watch some episodes (during the first season, they didn’t have money for special effects, but I really enjoyed it too). The series is 50 years old and still fresh and has millions and millions of fans all around the world.

  4. Jamie Dutton says:

    Battleship was a waste of time, Total Recall was ‘meh’ and Prometheus was a big stinking pile. My problem with Revolution was the fact that they were ‘supposedly’ set in a back to the dark ages or whatever apocalyptic world where nothing worked and yet everyone was friggin spotless, even the kids were squeaky clean! I laughed through the first 5 episodes even when what’s her face’s dad dies in his brand new whiter than white shirt. If you can’t get me to believe in your world for a single minute, what makes you think I’m gonna stick around til you figure out where you’re going?

    • Actually, take a look at the details in the clothing. Yes, his shirt was white. But a lot of the clothing looks patched, nobody is actually spotless (dirt on people’s faces, beards, kinda grimy hair). Given the face they’ve had several years to get used to living without power, why wouldn’t they have clean clothes?

  5. Joelsk says:

    I don’t think these guys like Sci-fi by the sounds of it.
    I enjoyed Total Recall. It was a fun film. Awesome production and some great stunts. Story was a little soft but that was expected.
    Prometheus was fantastic. Even after a few re-watches I still love it and think people are trailer-struck with disappointment. You all expected to much.
    Battleship was so much fun to watch. I was laughing all the way through. It was great. What more could you expect from a film based on a board game.

    • If you’ve spent any time reading GFR and you’ve concluded that we don’t like sci-fi, well, there’s not much else I can do for you. Like I said above, if you enjoyed Battleship and Prometheus, awesome, I’m happy for you. I never walk into anything, especially not sci-fi stuff, wanting to dislike it, but I’m also not going to shift my opinions — most especially not here — based on what other folks thought of any given thing. That way lies madness.

  6. nerdgasm says:

    Total Recall was amazing. Prometheus was a good time and I fully enjoyed it. I just don’t get you and your negative opinions, Mr. Wharton. You got my page view and my comment, but you certainly don’t have my respect.

  7. Patrick says:

    Lol. You people shouldn’t comment on film if you thought total recall or battleship was good. Quick reminder: entertainment doesn’t equal quality.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed them, Pat, but those two sentences are pretty much my personal definition of “Things someone whose opinion in movies I don’t trust would say.”

  8. I think as a general rule of thumb, most sci-fi shows have a rocky first season or so. The Actors need a bit of time to get to know their characters and the people they’re working with. Have you seen the first season of Stargate? Its terrible and that is my favorite show. Science fiction programs need time to build up their mythology, characters and rich worlds, after they have that they can tell any kind of story and you’ll be invested.

    But sadly network television doesn’t give them the time to build these things. Someone needs to step up with a show with a ten season arc and say here, this is going to make a tonne of money over the next decade but we might have to run at a loss for a bit.

    If someone can promise fans a show that isn’t being made up week by week they’ll stick with it.

  9. DoigtDuPeuple says:

    Anyone else wonder why they are commenting on Star Trek into Darkness stunts?? The article said The Science Fiction Disappointments Of 2012… It’s not out yet… Stunts aren’t completed, editing hasn’t really begun… Ect.. How can you even judge?? First one was crapped on because of the logic behind the crew and how the story was different from the original shows ect.. yet when it came out it made sense that it was different as the original story line was changed through time being played with. So hold your horses before you scream that it won’t be as good …

    As for the Alcatraz series – Didn’t see it;

    Battleship wasn’t a great movie but it wasn’t that bad.. It’s a sci-fi movie for crying out loud! It’s not A.I. bad!! (I still hate Spielberg with a passion for having me sit through that damn crapfest movie!)…

    Doctor Who – Was any series any good to start with??? Bad effects, story lines that gave new meaning to the word *bleh*, ect..

    Prometheus – I wanted to strangle myself at the end for having seen it since they actually released a movie with so many plot holes and ridiculous idiots tagged as “scientist” who can’t follow a damn map and play with beings or creatures that they don’t understand or know what they can do instead of being very careful not to play with the black goo!!

    Revolution – I watched the first 5 episodes.. then I started watching golf as it had more moments of tension and kept me at the edge of my seat more often…

    And Total Recall wasn’t like the first one but I read that it was closer to the original book so of course it’s not going to be exactly like the original.. Also please view the original as it too had very bad moments… For the day it was something good but as per today’s market it would’ve been a D-List movie. It did have action, and all the fixin’ a Sci-Fi movie needs… I’m not saying It’s by the damn Blu-Ray, but I’m saying I’m happy I saw it… That’s it..

    • divtag says:

      ” “scientist” who can’t follow a damn map and play with beings or
      creatures that they don’t understand or know what they can do instead of
      being very careful not to play with the black goo!! ”

      LOL !!!… damn i was laughing so hard right now 🙂 😀 …..! “be very careful not to play with the black goo!!”…… Fantastic! 😀

    • Arcus says:

      Doctor Who – Yes. That is why it is the longest running sci-fi series.
      Prometheus – There were almost multiple plot holes it was so plot hole filled you are right.

      • DoigtDuPeuple says:

        yeeeeeeahhh… Baywatch was also one of the biggest television success in the world… still not a good storyline in all the years it was on.. I mean, I don,t mean to crap on Dr Who, but you also need to look at things like it has been re-casted, changed, and revamped so many times that in the end you wonder why?? Another Sherlock Holmes.. So many variations with good interest but never a number one!..

        • Lis says:

          Well, it’s part of the plot to get the doctor to re-cast. There’s this thing called, “regeneration”. A long-running series such as Doctor Who has to change through time if they want to catch up with society (kind of like James Bond but the re-casting is part of the plot). Besides, despite its ‘changes’, it’ll always be about that old time lord and his blue box, with his occasional companions off to see the universe.

          And for Sherlock Holmes, it has over 200 adaptations but the best one would always be the original.

  10. Sonia Lex says:

    what Laura replied I am amazed that some people able to make $3000 in 1 month on the internet. did you look

    at this at goo.gl/pbpqJ

  11. JessSayin says:

    “overwhelming emptiness of Total Recall” = Colin Farrell
    Next time can we get a leading man that’s at least as tall as the leading lady(s)?…or a refrigerator?

  12. Edward says:

    I was disappointed with Prometheus but i think that was because of the big build up, meanwhile i enjoyed battleship as i had very low expectations.

  13. I didn’t really look into Alcatraz, although it had garnered my attention from the previews. But it was one of those shows where I knew immediately it was either gonna be dead in the water or a sleeper hit. Looks like we see where it landed. Same goes for Revolution. And Battleship looked like a complete joke ever since I found out Rihanna had a starring role. Not to denounce her music or any other musician’s acting abilities, but I can’t help but feel that’s always just a ploy in order to attract people to see something otherwise considered unwatchable. Which begs the question–why Liam Neeson, why?! I hope his paycheck was at least fat.

    This brings me to Prometheus. Oooh Prometheus. Such high hopes. Such high, high hopes. Here’s the thing about those of you that continue to defend Prometheus–why? Why would you settle for something that so clearly was a hodgepodge of undeveloped goop? I mean, Prometheus had SO MUCH potential, and it went and was squandered by an incoherent story and incredibly stupid characters. Like, unbelievably stupid (I’m looking at you Xenobiologist who gasps and cringes at the sign of Alien life). How were these people cleared to fly into space? Seriously?

    Never saw Total Recall, but I loved the original, and I imagined the remake would be all sizzle, no steak. Looks like it. Even so, I’ll probably red box it. I think it deserves at least a single watch through.

    And I’m totally with you on the Star Trek Into Darkness front. You forgot Zachary Quinto, also on Conan, promising new footage and it was just him in front of an impromptu green screen in a cheap Spock outfit. Jokes at your audience’s expense is fine a couple of times, but when several members of the cast start to do it a long with the director it starts becoming tedious and just not cool. It makes me feel like they take their audience for granted, as though we’re going to see the film regardless of what they do to us, and they can continue to get away with jerking us around by our chain. It also makes me feel like the film might not be up to snuff on certain fronts and they’re just trying to cover their tracks and build hype–but I hope not.

  14. At least the new Red Dwarf didnt disappoint.


    Wow .. This is the most horrible list ever – I honestly enjoyed myself Alcatraz and I really enjoy watching Revolution.
    Both of these shows are a must watch.
    As for anything else on this list
    Prometheus is good and Doctor Who is Doctor Who(Who doesn’t find Doctor Who enjoyable?)
    This list is a disappointment if you honestly have to ask me.

  16. Arcus says:

    You were pleased with Walking Dead and Dredd but disappointed with mediocre Doctor Who and Revolution? What the hell are you on?

  17. James Vetzal says:

    i hate it when the reason for a movie being bad is basically summed up too “no heart” or “overall empty” seriously, wtf does that mean?

  18. I never watched Alcatraz, Battleship was ok but really Rhianna as naval weapons battery NCO? Never seen Dr Who, Prometheus was dismal except for her eternal hottyness, Noomi Rapace (please don’t over expose her). Revolution has it’s moments but the hiatus could work one of two ways, it could be really special or get knocked off like the original Battlestar Galactica Remember it went on hiatus and never recovered in the ratings in the 80’s.
    my question is whether Walking Dead will bounce back after it’s show runner got let go. This has been a stellar season for the AMC show but can it recover after letting go two show runners over the last few seasons?
    another issue with me is “Falling Skies” which I have been watching on Amazon. it takes sooo long to develop.

  19. Taka Dahle says:

    I wholly disagree with “Revolution”. While it’s true that Miles and co. are still on their quest to rescue Danny, Miles’ bone is actually with his former best friend, sadistic tyrant Sebastian Monroe of the villainous Monroe Republic. And the hiatus that this dude complains about is actually part of the stream of mid-season finales that happened as the December holidays drew near. Seriously, who’d go and watch TV shows while spending time with family for the holidays? (Especially for people who have to commute to do so?) I can understand the long wait as it builds anticipation for the fans of the show, but picking it apart doesn’t really help with the wait. I didn’t even start watching it from the beginning and I’m already waiting for the second half of the season this March.

  20. I don’t understand everybody’s problem with battleship.. i liked it… I thought it was rather good.. I loved the first 5 doctor who episodes.. i thought they were genius, just like the rest of the show… I will miss Amy tho, loved her… But am looking even more forwards to clara… The christmas special was brilliant… Alcatraz was ok, same as Revolution… Prometheus, unfortunately haven’t seen it yet….

  21. noah says:


  22. Daniel Shea says:

    To clarify: Dr. Who was a disappointment because you knew the Ponds were leaving. So, the problem really wasn’t the show, but the “spoilers.”


  23. Well, let me see…

    Alcatraz – Never had the interest of watching it.

    Battleship – It’s a disaster of a movie, and in the theater I was not the only one with a headache. About it was based on a board game, that’s not an escuse to do such a poorly written-obviously marketing for the navy film. My God, the best one acting there was Rihanna. RIHANNA!!!

    Dr. Who – This were my heart bleeds… I love Dr. Who. Since David Tennant and Ruseell T. Davies (writer) both left the show, it made a big hole that this new Doctor hasn’t filled yet. I’ve been a Dr. Who fan since a kid when I watched it with my uncle (he introduced me to sci fi) and really this new Doctor doesn’t cut it. And this new group of writers are more of a hit and miss.

    Prometheus – I’m too damned tired of this movie. Sincerely it doesn’t add ANYTHING. It’s meh. The only good thing is Noomi Rapace (love her). I prefer to see my Alien Quadrology. My hubby is super psyched with this movie. There are so many dumb sequesces in that movie, that it became ridiculous! So high hopes, so many potential gone kaput.

    Revolution – I like the premise, hate were it’s developing. It is the future of tv all becoming teen angst drama a la twilight?! It all started well and then started to go downhill…. I would looove to become one of Monroe’s Men just to stop hearing whats-her-name’s whinning!

    Star Trek – Sorry, don’t like it. This new franchise is concentrating all in stunts, pretty poses and action sequences. The sad thing is that I truly like a LOT of the actors involved in this relaunch. But, anyone can tell me if any of you is gonna watch this new Star Trek in 10 years? Show hands please. I know I’m gonna still watch The Search for Spock again and again…. And still enjoy ST: TNG episode “the child”.

    Total Recall – Kate Beckinsale totally kick ass!! Nothing else to see here, people. Move along….

  24. Elwood Grobnik says:

    You found the Doctor Who season a disappointment? Really? Because I think it’s been a huge improvement over the mess that was Series 6, which had several great episodes but was build around a season long arc that fizzled. “Dinosaurs” was a little weak but was redeemed by the introduction of Brian Pond, er, Williams. The other four were pretty great. As for the Christmas special, well, it was better than 2011’s anyway

  25. Daph909 says:

    I completely agree with the part about Doctor Who, I can’t wait for the series to pick up again so we can see what else is in store for Jenna’s character. She’s already my favourite companion=)

  26. RayJacksonMS2 says:

    Dr. Who sucked because The Doctor and Amy had no real chemstry on screen ever, which is weird because if you watch shows with the actors Matt and Karen clearly had it in real life.

  27. ELIZA says:


  28. ELIZA says:


  29. Dewayne Cumbie says:

    Doctor who was good battleship was not that bad and total recall was good. Alcatraz was awesome and a shame fox cancelled it even though it got more views then most of their shows. You also have to remember Prometheus is a origin story and the sequel will be more actin pack.