TV shows "20 minutes into the future" decades later

This is based on the thread on the Six Million Dollar Man thread.

The premise: shows like 6MDM relied on tech that was cutting edge. You can imagine that the science of bionics in 1974 was advancing, and a lot of the pieces were nearly ready, but it took “a man barely alive” and a ton of black project government money to put it all together. The program only ran as a one-off (Jamie Summers and Barney Miller (no, not the detective) and Max notwithstanding).

But what happened in the intervening decades? You couldn’t keep bionics a secret, and why would you? It’s too useful. And there’s too much money to be made. The whole point was to make it available. They weren’t going to make one (or two) spies and leave it at that. Everybody would have access to bionic limbs and eyes and ears. (They just wouldn’t all be super powerful. If they were smart.)

But to have the show continue out of the 70s, you are forced to keep the tech stuck in the past. A super powered bionic agent isn’t that secret if everybody can buy the parts. And the entire world of 2018 would be different if the 1970s had bionic tech as seen in the show. Aside from no more limbless people and no more para- or quadriplegics, we’d probably have bionic astronauts on the Moon and Mars.

But here we are, 40 years later, only barely closer to the “world’s first bionic man”.

What other “20 minutes into the future” fictional tech of old has never come to pass? Or what shows had tech that, if it existed, would have made the current world unrecognizable from what it is now?

Not a TV show, but I remember in Michael Crichton’s 1969 novel The Andromeda Strain there was a super-sophisticated medical scanner that could figure out anything that was wrong with you, and after further testing “was going to be in every major hospital inside of five years,” or somesuch. Still waiting.

This might be right up your alley: Reed Richards Is Useless - TV Tropes

Space:1999? I mean, 19 years later, and the Moon is still here…

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say “all of it.”

Thinking back to the 1960s, My Living Doll had a robot that looked and acted human,* Get Smart*, had a shoe phone (with a rotary dial - the producers never envisioned push buttons?), Lost in Space was launching interstellar missions in 1997, Search had cameras you could hide in a ring with resolution high enough to read a license plate on a speeding car, etc., etc.

As for tech that could have changed the world, I’M STILL WAITING FOR MY FLYING CAR!

We probably could hide a camera in a ring, if anyone wanted to. But it’s a lot easier to hide it in a cell phone, and nobody keeps their phones hidden.

I was thinking of the “space marines” in Moonraker. The US had at least one shuttle filled with troops armed and ready to go into space combat at a moment’s notice. And they had blasters! I thought it was pretty cool at the time. 38 years later, not only do we not have a Space Force, we don’t have blasters. Heck, we don’t even have a way to get into space, unless we pay someone else!

As much as I liked Search, one thing that I realized much later is, how do they connect the field cameras and two-way communications back to the base? Those little transmitters can’t have any range at all. Nowdays, you could hand-wave and say you are piggybacking on existing cellular networks, but not back then.

Heck, even Steve Austin had that cute little mini walkie-talkie that he could use to talk to Oscar in DC. By the size of it, in real life it had about a mile or two of range.

Of course they did. The fact that it had a dial was intentional to be humorous.

The video phones of, for example, The Jetsons, for all intents and purposes, are here.

Always thought it made sense, myself - with buttons you’d risk making a call with every step.

The phrase “20 minutes into the future” comes from Max Headroom.

All these years later, we still can’t program a computer that can hold a realistic conversation, show original thinking, or crack jokes.

Demolition Man came out in 1994, and the beginning depicted the far future of 1996, when criminals would be flash frozen instead of serving time in prison, and they’d have baking and knitting skills downloaded into their brain during their time on ice. Oh, and they didn’t age. So it was basically a “You committed a crime? We’ll show you! Get into this time machine to the future!” situation.

I think it may be because we can’t get a network exec that can hold a realistic conversation, show original thinking, or crack jokes.

I’m still waiting for the Restaurant Wars. I’ll root for Arby’s.

There was a show called *Seven Days *where the NSA had a secret time machine reverse engineered from alien technology. It could send someone back only one week, and there was only one guy that was capable of handling the stresses of operating it. So every week something major would happen, often a terrorist attack on the US, and the clock starts running to figure out who did it and how the one guy could stop them before the 7 day clock ran out. The last episode aired in May, 2001. It would have had some splainin to do if it had been reviewed for the next season.

Yeah, you’re in trouble if you give an exact year for your sci-fi to take place. Land of the Giants was set in the far-off future of 1983. (And Deanna Lund just passed away a month or so ago.) I think the original Rollerball is supposed to be taking place this year.

I read something fascinating about Star Trek: Enterprise when it was being made. In some ways, the show was technologically squeezed between The Original Series and reality. Since it took place before TOS the technology had to be more primitive. So what kind of communicators do the characters have? They have to be worse than the ones that Kirk and Spock used, but better than a 2001 cell phone.

Were a year away from the original date in Blade Runner and we don’t have flying cars, artificial humans, or off-world colonies.

I read a column years ago in which a guy said okay, he could understand why we didn’t have SF tech like in the movies yet like a flying car. But why, he wanted to know, couldn’t people have tunics like people often wore in the SF movies? (It was very funny. He said he refused to believe we didn’t have the “sewing tech” to make tunics.)

That would have been quite the ‘splainin’!

Blue Thunder had a helicopter that could go into “shush” mode. (well, they called it “whisper mode”. To-may-to, to-mah-to). If it were possible to shush a helicopter, everyone would use the tech. (I am aware of The Quiet One. It was a one-off, and still was noisier than BT).

And both Airwolf and Blue Thunder were made out of tri-titanium or something, because they both could withstand fire that would disable a tank. And clear tri-titanium at that, because the windows were bulletproof, too.