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Has ‘Genre’ Become A Bad Word On Television?

Stars from two shows inspired by comic books says their shows are not what they seem


The “genre” label is getting a much wider berth than ever before, as science-fiction itself continues to expand.

But where are the lines drawn? Does it have to be in space? Does it have to involve aliens? Maybe superpowers? Or can it simply be inspired by the comic book genre?

It seems there is a yes to everything except the last part, at least as far as actors from ABC’s “No Ordinary Family” and NBC’s “The Cape” are concerned.

Summer Glau, who made a name for herself in shows like “Firefly,” “Dollhouse” and “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles,” wants to be sure that despite her new show, “The Cape,” involving a man dressing up like his son’s favorite comic book hero … “The Cape” is not a genre show.

“There is nothing supernatural or futuristic about it,” Glau recently told Airlock Alpha and Media Blvd. (see video) “It is set in the present-day city, and no one has any special powers. It’s just magic. Vince Faraday (David Lyons) learns magic.”

The show is completely different from “Firefly” and “Sarah Connor” because it’s not futuristic and not set in space, Glau said.

“I don’t feel like I’m doing the same thing over and over again,” she said. “This character I am playing is so different from anything I’ve done before.”

There always is a fear of being typecast, so it’s understandable when an actor wants to break certain molds. But it seems that some of the stigma attached to genre shows were not broken by programs like “Lost” on ABC and Syfy’s “Battlestar Galactica.” Or maybe Michael Chiklis didn’t get the memo?

Chiklis, who got his break on the popular FX show “The Shield,” is the star of “No Ordinary Family,” which takes a page from “The Incredibles” and imbues an ordinary family with superpowers.

“I don’t think of this show as a sci-fi show,” Chiklis said, according to Digital Spy. “What we’re trying to do is meld different genres together and make a new thing.”

Yet, family getting superpowers does meet the definition of sci-fi, at least according to Summer Glau.

The series, Chiklis said, “borrows from a lot of stuff we love, but then it becomes something different. We’re doing something that’s really quite ambitious here. The scope of the show is rather large. It is intimate and it is a family show, but the superhero element wrapped around it makes it exciting.”

While picking up the “genre” label might seem a bit toxic at this point, it is possible both NBC and ABC are trying to make sure their shows aren’t judged before they even have a chance to air. Even “Lost” denied it was a sci-fi show until after it had become an international hit.

In any event, Airlock Alpha considers both shows genre, and will continue to cover it here. And if anything pops up that doesn’t make it genre, then no worries, we always have Inside Blip.

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