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kevin_standlee in hugo_recommend

BDP Long (Yes, Long): Heroes

There has been an interesting discussion happening on the SMOFS (conrunners, WSFS politics) e-mail list about the eligibility of NBC television series Heroes. Normally, individual episodes of an episodic television series would be eligible as Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form. However, many people have pointed out that Heroes is more in the nature of a multi-part serialized work than individual episodes. If this is the case, then the entire series -- or at least the season, assuming there is a second season -- may well be considered a single serialized work, and thus BDP Long Form.

This leads to a conundrum for Hugo Award voters. First, let's look at the rule about serialized works:
3.2.6: Works appearing in a series are eligible as individual works, but the series as a whole is not eligible. However, a work appearing in a number of parts shall be eligible for the year of the final part.
This rule was originally devised long ago to deal with longer written fiction appearing in multiple parts across several issues of a magazine. If a novel was serialized in the November 1961, December 1961, and January 1962 issues, the novel itself was eligible as if it had appeared in January 1962. The rule works with serialized dramatic works as well. Most discussion on serialized dramatic works has concentrated on two- or three-part episodes or "mini-series," which are not quite the same thing as Heroes.

Now other series, notably Babylon 5, have had "story arcs;" however, each episode of the series has usually had its own internal story, while continuing to progress the overall story arc. Heroes, on the other hand, appears by most people whose comments I've read, to be much more a case of being analogous to chapters in a serialized novel.

So how does this affect the Hugo Awards? Well, the 2007 Hugo Awards (to be presented in Japan) are for works first appearing in calendar year 2006. (Yes, there are exceptions for non-US publication; they don't apply to this discussion.) But this season of Heroes will not be complete until sometime in 2007. Thus, if this season of Heroes is eligible solely as a serialized long-form work, then it won't actually be eligible for a Hugo until the 2008 Hugo Awards. However, if individual episodes are considered sufficiently stand-alone to be Hugo-eligible, they are obviously eligible only as short-form works for either the 2007 or 2008 Hugos, depending on first air date.

This puts both the voters (that is, the nominators, which for 2007 include all of the members of L.A.con IV) and the Hugo Administrator in something of a bind. Administrators as a rule tend to defer to the judgment of the voters whenever possible. Should a sufficient number of people this coming year nominate a specific chapter of Heroes, the Administrator will probably not want to disqualify the work as being part of a serialized long-form work. If an individual chapter is nominated as a short-form work, it will make it much less likely that the series as a whole could be considered eligible as a long-form work the following year, based on the precedent set in the first year. Conversely, if no chapters are nominated for the 2007 Awards, but the series as as whole received lots of nominations in 2008, the Administrator may be persuaded that the series as a whole is eligible as a long-form work under the principle of vox populi, vox dei.

(The 2007 Hugo Awards Administrator is not on LJ. The 2008 Hugo Awards administrator is marykaykare. Administrators are not required to follow each other's rulings; however, precedent is usually pretty strong, and prudent Administrators pay attention to the "case law" developed by previous rulings.)

So: If you think Heroes should be nominated as a single long-form work in 2008, you should not nominate any individual chapters for the 2007 Hugo Awards, and instead nominate it as a single work in 2008.

Comments

Um. How is the series "24" handled by the Emmies? The arguments should be the same, imho.
Um, why? The Emmies have their rules, their Hugos have theirs. Why should what happens in one set of awards be governed by the rules of another set of awards?
My apologies. I had meant to type "could" not "should" (honest) and knew I'd get this question after I hit post. I decided to ignore it so someone could mildly flame me. Thanks!
No worries. I'm glad you understand the point. I see the sort of misunderstanding I thought you made rather too often, which is why I jumped on it.
You betcha - I see that all the time. I often jump too.
"24" is a series and is treated as such; however, relying on that won't work, because there's no direct analogy. The Emmys don't give awards for specific episodes of a series; they only give awards to a series. We can't look to them for guidance because they divide up the field along a different axis than we do.

WSFS only has two dramatic-presentation categories, and has choosen to define them by length: Long Form is intended primarily for theatrical motion pictures and longer television works (mini-series and the line), while Short Form is intended primarily for television episodes and other shorter works.

Heroes appears to be a work that falls into the gray area. It is not obviously either a very long movie or a series of standalone episodes.
Duh. (to me that is) I've watched the Emmies often enough to know that's how they treat things. Memory fails.

Overall, I'm not sure rules-wise what the difference is between nominating, for instance, Babylon 5 as long form (as an hour-at-a-time mini-series and/or "Babylon 5 Pilot" as an episode.

Your advice about nominating one or the other category is good for fans of the show. I won't be nominating it in either, of course. :)
Well, to be really picky about it, while the Emmys for Best Drama and Best Comedy are for entire series, those for writing and directing are, IIRC, episode-specific. I think they only consider single episodes for those even when the episodes are part of a larger arc, but I wouldn't swear to it. So the analogy is imperfect, to say the least, but it's not nonexistent.

I'm really not sure which way I'd jump on this one. I'll have to think about it. (And I certainly will, as Heroes is the best Hugo-eligible series on TV right now.)

my 2cents

Each episode of Heroes is called a "Chapter" in the opening credits. Also for what it's worth, the rumour is that a five year story arc has been sketched out. So to me the work is a serialized long presentation.



Re: my 2cents

I am not sure that I am going to be nominating Heroes, as I haven't seen it. I do hope to see it before nominating season. There are better shows in Anime that meet the BDP requirements better such as Trinity Blood, ERgo Proxy and Karas. Karas is brillant superheroic fantasy. Ergo Proxy (in a sense, it isn't based on it) takes a classic dystopian novels and brillantly sets it in the future. Trinity Blood is a great vampire series because of it's depth and development of characters.

Re: my 2cents

Assuming it survives beyond the first season, I think there may be a good working assumption that each season of Heroes could be considered a single dramatic unit, in the same way that all of the episodes of a season of 24 make up a single story.
I think I would be more inclined to vote for the entire season of Heroes, or at least the entire run of episodes in 2006 for BDH Long form.

Since there is only one more 'chapter' left in this year, could 'chapters' (episodes) One thru eleven be treated as a 'story arc' for the Long form?

It would be hard to pick individual episodes out for one Hugo, versus the entire body of work of Heros for the BDH long form.
I don't think it would be right to try and nominate chapters 1-11 just because they happen to be the ones aired in 2006, because it seems unlikely that they constitute a single dramatic unit. Remember the history of the serialized-work rule. You wouldn't nominate parts one and two of a serialized novel just because they were the ones printed this year; instead, you would wait until the novel was finished the following year.

Heroes

As an ex-Hugo Administrator(been there, done it and also will admit to making mistakes because I made a decision without clearly thinking about its implications) who admittedly likes "Heroes", IMHO it is clearly like a novel which has been serialized over several months in a magazine and should therefore be treated in the same way.

Admittedly it could change(TV, if anything, is a slave to ratings)and my opinion would therefore change.

The issue first came up with "Star Trek." People wanted to nominate the series. Rulings were made that each show (unless it was a 2 parter) was a separate entity. That was very clear. It become less clear when shows, like "Babylon 5" and "Buffy" which had strong arcs but also stand-alone episodes and even reasonably complete stories about a specific objective over several shows appeared. "Heroes" is not stand-alone and usually requires several minutes of introduction of previous episodes to help maintain continuity for people who have missed an episode or three.

As Kevin mentioned, the Producers of the show are treating it as a serial since each episode is noted as Chapter X with a subtitle. While again not absolutely binding, it is suggestive of what they consider the show to be.

It should also be emphasized that if an episode of "Heroes" makes it to the ballot in 2007, many people will take this as precedent that the series should not be eligible as such. While the 2008 Hugo Administrator is not bound by a good or bad decision by the 2007 Administrator, it does carry weight.

There is also a saving provision even if an episode is nominated. The Producer can decline the nomination. Admittedly this is a gamble hoping the voters will nominate the entire series as one.

Re: Heroes

Coming to this discussion very belatedly:

I like _Heroes_, but I don't see its episodes as significantly more chapter-like than, say, most _Battlestar Galactica_ episodes. In BSG, there are certainly standalone one-episode stories, but there are also a lot of multi-episode storylines where, imo, no individual episode really works as a standalone. They don't always say "To Be Continued" or "Part 1 of 2" -- each episode is a unit, but it's part of a significantly larger unit. You did refer to "reasonably complete stories about a specific objective over several shows," but I don't think I've ever seen such a unit appear on the DP or DPLF ballot. Did anyone try to nominate (picking numbers at random) "Episodes 5 through 11 of season 3 of Buffy"? Or "Season 5 of Babylon 5"? (...Okay, it may be hard to tell, given that those examples are before the DPLF/SF split....)

*Two*-part storylines do sometimes get nominated as a unit; I think everyone agrees that that makes sense. And a miniseries would obviously usually be a single unit. But I don't see anyone talking about multi-episode storylines within an ongoing season as counting as a single unit, except in the case of _Heroes_.

To summarize: I'll be really surprised if anyone tries to nominate a BSG multi-episode story (that's not labeled as a two-part episode) as a single DPLF nominee. And to me, _Heroes_ isn't significantly more of a serial than that, despite the labeling of "chapters." Many episodes of _Heroes_ have strong individual-episode storylines within the greater arc, just like BSG or B5 or Buffy, and the "previously" stuff is generally nowhere near as necessary for _Heroes_ as for, say, BSG, imo. I think the "chapter" label is muddying the waters.

Re: Golden Globes

Sometimes I'm dense.

The Golden Globes are of no use as a point of departure in this, as it's been nominated as a "Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television".
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