Today, as reported by Deadline, HBO announced that the creators of ‘Big Love’ are developing another show for the pay cable network, ‘China Doll.’ Presented as a family drama, the show is about a successful construction subcontractor, his university professor Asian-American wife, and their robot and explores their struggles with China’s growing economic power and influence and with having extended families in California and China. According to Mark V. Olsen, the show “is about China, Chinese Americans, robots, the effect of technology on our lives and the China moment in American consciousness.” Although Olsen has a strong interest in technology, the co-creator of ‘China Doll,’ Will Scheffer, insists that “This is not a sci-fi show. It is ambitious but is set in the present day.”
Science fiction can take place in present day, Mr. Scheffer. Examples of sci-fi shows taking place in the present include ‘The X-Files,’ ‘Fringe’ and ‘Warehouse 13’. A story about “the effect of technology on our lives” is one of the main definitions of science fiction. The premise of the show is based on one of the core principles of science fiction. Plus, ‘China Doll’ has a robot. Remember the show ‘Small Wonder’? The mere presence of a robot classified the light family sitcom as science fiction. ‘Small Wonder’ was on the air 1985 to 1989 and was about a robot, Vicki, trying to pass as a human. Created by Ted Lawson, Vicki had to be kept a secret from the public, so the Lawsons had Vicki pretend to be their daughter. Was the setting of ‘Small Wonder’ futuristic? No. If ‘Small Wonder’ is science fiction, then ‘China Doll’ is too.
Robot + present-day setting + exploring issues of technology in our lives = science fiction = ‘China Doll’.
Scheffer and Olsen have created a new science fiction show for HBO. Hopefully they will accept this fact before the show airs.