Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What is your favorite TV Science Fiction Series?

And let's give a lot of latitude here. I am going with STAR TREK, THE NEXT GENERATION although there are many close competitors (The X Files, Battleshop Galactica). I love TNG combination of adventure, character, great plots and heart. How about you?

50 comments:

Deb said...

Mystery Science Theater 3000, followed closely by Dr. Who, especially the early episodes from the 1960s.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Although I have seen two Dr. Who's recently, I really am missing the vibe there. It is too glib for my old ears, I think. And I have never seen MST. I saw it on a list when I was posting this but don't even know when it was on. These educational gaps are annoying.

Jerry House said...

MST3K, the later Dr. Who (sorry, Deb), TNG (never cared much for the others). Most of the others jumped the shark. On the fantasy side, I'd go with the original Night Stalker, American Gothic, and American Horror Story.

Margot Kinberg said...

Patti - Hmmm....Star Trek was a good 'un. But I have to go with Deb on this. I just absolutely loved Mystery Science Theater 3000. I hope you'll get the chance to see it sometime.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Tried to watch American Horror last week and found it way too sadistic for me.

Walker Martin said...

This is a very difficult question to answer because there have been so many SF TV series, most of them not that well done. THE OUTER LIMITS, TWILIGHT ZONE, and THE X-FILES, all had some good episodes but there is also alot of horror and non-Sf mixed in.

I'll give my vote to BABYLON 5 which lasted 5 seasons and was planned as a 5 season show right from the start.

Randy Johnson said...

Star Trek TOS. I was there at the very beginning and it still ranks as my favorite of the franchise.

Babylon 5 for reasons already mentioned.

The fifth Doctor Who, Tom Baker, will always be my favorite Doctor, although I like Pertwee and Tennant nearly as much.

Chris said...

The only one I watched with any commitment was the redone Battlestar Galactica. I really liked the first 2-3 seasons but it ran out of steam. I ended up bailing and never watched the last season.

F.T. Bradley said...

I loved Star Trek TNG for those same reasons.

Warehouse 13 is a favorite now. Like Doctor Who, though it can be a little clever for clever's sake, if that makes sense.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I only watched the first three seasons too, Chris. Need to rent Babylon Five.
No Firefly takers?

pattinase (abbott) said...

My main problem with the original series, other than its clunkiness which is kind of charming, is that women were nearly absent other than being sex objects for Captain Kirk. Rodenberry couldn't imagine a future with women in important positions despite great imagination in other areas.

Chad Eagleton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chad Eagleton said...

Hard question. Farscape was fantastic. Big fan of Doctor Who (though not a big fan of Steven Moffat's current run). The Twilight Zone and X-Files (though the X-Files ran way too long). Always really liked Quantum Leap despite the lack of a bigger story-line. Torchwood was pretty good until the last series, the joint Starz/BBC production.

Charles Gramlich said...

The Original Star Trek series for me, although TNG is very good.

Al Tucher said...

I enjoyed Farscape. (I would follow Claudia Black through any wormhole in the universe). As I kid I loved Lost in Space, although even at the age of ten I couldn't understand why the mission commander didn't summarily execute Dr. Smith after his first dirty trick.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I have been trying to think of TORCHWOOD.
LOST IN SPACE really set a lot of kids on the path to reading/watching science fiction, I think.
I loved QUANTUM LEAP for a while-then as so often happens it became overly tied to its concept. It needed to make a leap and didn't. Yes, so many shows go on too long. The British have the right idea by pulling the plug much more quickly. Although int he case of LIFE ON MARS, they broke my heart.

Olivia V. Ambrogio said...

Best ever is definitely FIREFLY. Such a shame it only had one season.

eviljwinter said...

I loved the 2004 version of Battlestar Galactica. That's as close to an HBO version as you'll get on basic cable.

eviljwinter said...

I loved the 2004 version of Battlestar Galactica. That's as close to an HBO version as you'll get on basic cable.

le0pard13 said...

Star Trek: The Original Series. Without this one, there wouldn't be a TNG.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I wonder if your Dad has that, Olivia, The library doesn't.
BG was terrifically exciting. And, of course, TOS was a groundbreaker.

Dan_Luft said...

I agree with you in Next Generation but I would also have to say that the show got much better after Roddenberry died. After that, the ship stopped visiting planets of scantily-clad, childlike folk. The crew's personalities deepened and characters began to evolve slowly over several seasons.

George said...

I'm a big fan of Rod Serling's NIGHT GALLERY. While it's not quite science fiction there were SF elements like aliens and time-travel in some of the episodes.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Loved NIGHT GALLERY. I think the first one had Joan Crawford on it if I remember correctly--which would be a science fiction feat in itself.

Olivia V. Ambrogio said...

Patti, *I* have Firefly. (Can't remember if I've also given it to my dad.) Let me know if you'd like me to lend it to you!

pattinase (abbott) said...

I'll ask him on Friday night. Thanks!

Rick Ollerman said...

Farscape, followed by the original Star Trek. Never liked TNG where there were too many formulaic minor problems that turned into threatening ones by the end but if they could only reconfigure the warp core to focus through the dilithium array they just MAY be able to reverse the process. And all the while Data's humor chip isn't installed properly.

Randy Johnson said...

Actually Patti, it wasn't Roddenberry that couldn't imagine women in positions of power. In the original pilot, he had a woman, known only as Number One, as the Enterprise's first officer. The network told him to get rid of the woman and the alien(Spock).

He lobbied for one of them, they thought the south would be offended by Spock(with pointed ears and arched eyebrows, he looked like -gasp- the devil).

I saw him on a lecture tour and he explained "I kept the alien and married the woman. It wouldn't have worked the other way."

The actress, Majel Barrett, then became Nurse Chapel.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Even on TNG the series regular women only get to be doctors and counselors. What series was the first to have a woman in a position of real power.

Clair Dickson said...

I have to put in another vote for Babylon 5. I love the story arc across the seasons (and the A, B, and C plots of each episode.)

And, actually, Babylon 5 has a female as second in command for the first 4 seasons, and in command the last season (of the human spacestation.)

Anyway, I LOVE B5. It think it's my favorite show, ever, period. =)

Richard R. said...

Both Star Trek: The Next Generation and Babylon 5. I didn't watch Firefly or Farscape, though they both interested me.

James Reasoner said...

TNG, although the rebooted BSG comes close. And FIREFLY probably would have beaten both of them if it had run five or six seasons like it should have. For fantasy, there's no topping the original TWILIGHT ZONE.

Gerard Saylor said...

My wife would be able to list several. Does MST3K count as sci-fi. I suppose the premise of launching Joel/Mike into space allows the entry.

RED DWARF was a funny show. One of the few shows I used to hunt down in the TV schedule.

SPACE: ABOVE AND BEYOND was done by X-FILES people and was okay. The best aspect was a character who was "artificially gestated" and raised as a soldier but only had the life experiences of a child.

Anonymous said...

We tried several times to watch Battlestar Gallactica but couldn't get into it ever. Loved the first couple of seasons of Quantum Leap. Next Generation was far better than the original ST. Rod Serling's shows were great but only occasionally sf.

I was a huge fan of MST3K but it wasn't a science fiction show.

Jeff M.

Cap'n Bob said...

I haven't seen that many of them, but the original Star Trek would be my answer.

Todd Mason said...

The (no joke) Peabody Award-winning MST3K was an intentionally cod sf series, with its evil scientists, behavior modification experimentation, sentient robots, encounters with aliens (and eventual addition of aliens as regular cast members)...all in the service of hosting goofy films which were mocked. On in Minneapolis only in 1988, picked up by the Comedy Channel in 1989 and continued on the merged Comedy Central till 1996; in 1997 it popped up on the Sci-Fi Channel and produced new episodes there till 1999...all told, 199 episodes and a theatrical film release, not counting the repackaged hour-long version Comedy Central ran and which also saw broadcast syndication for a season.

At its best, brilliant (at its worst, amusing enough). When Comedy Central put together a special celebrating itself, they chose not even to mention MST3K, the first series to get the channel any attention at all.

Todd Mason said...

And, as I mentioned to Scott Cupp the other day, the MST3K folks these days are split into a large group doing something similar onstage (and piped around the country on closed circuit to movie theaters, and available on dvd and download), CINEMATIC TITANIC, and a smaller group which briefly did something similar called THE FILM CREW (on dvd) and are now, with other comedians and such, doing something yet again similar called RIFFTRAX.

Todd Mason said...

My own favorite sf series...well, there's never been a consistently good one. BABYLON-5's first season is weak, and its fifth season almost as weak, but it was pretty damned solid in the middle seasons...FARSCAPE by its second season was consistently engaging but ran out of steam...ST: TNG did improve markedly after Roddenberry's death, sadly, when it was no longer forced to be a recapitulation of most of what was wrong with the first series (people tend, unfairly, to forget the 1970s cartoon STAR TREK, which had some decent scripts, including Larry Niven's contributions, even with its weak animation--certain it averaged about as well as the original series, with that miserable third season, and TNG, with its very weak pilot and first two seasons).

But THE PRISONER would be my (chronologically) first choice for best sf series (surreal, to be sure, but very much in tune with the literary sf of its time), even with some utterly miserable episodes, such as "Hammer into Anvil," in its short run. Among the other espionage series (leaving aside the episodes of DANGER MAN/SECRET AGENT which laid the groundwork for THE PRISONER), THE WILD WILD WEST was steampunk before the term was invented and THE AVENGERS also provided a number of sfnal episodes, some more intentionally cod than others...and Mrs. Gale and Mrs. Peel might well be considered the first women characters to essentially be on par with their male counterparts in sf series television (even if Rigg, particularly, was given more cheesecake-ridiculous things to do in her episodes, part of what decided her to move on; Linda Thorson's character was definitely more junior partner). No more borderline fantasy than THE PRISONER, and no less, the recent JOURNEYMAN in its even shorter run managed to maintain a very high and consistent standard, that even such near contenders as DAY BREAK didn't. FIREFLY does vie with BAB 5 and FARSCAPE among space opera series, though SERENITY (the spinoff/wrapup film) was disappointing.

pattinase (abbott) said...

THE PRISONER is a great choice and I need to rewatch that one. The JOURNEYMAN disappeared too soon. I think I only saw an episode or two.

Todd Mason said...

THE OUTER LIMITS (the first series) seesawed as mightily from great to awful as did STAR TREK (TOS), and NIGHT GALLERY, in its similarly wildly uneven way, had both excellent sf episodes (the adaptation of C. M. Kornbluth's "The Little Black Bag," even if they couldn't bring themselves to allow a young woman to be the villain as in the original short story; some adaptations of Margaret St. Clair stories and others) and atrocious ones (particularly among the jokey "blackout" sketches); the pilot film featured three more-straightforward horror and suspense stories, the weakest by some distance being the middle one, featuring Crawford and directed by Steven Spielberg.

Sorry, Jerry...I, too, find AMERICAN HORROR STORY sniggeringly sadistic, and self-consciously campy and pretentious as well as not particularly innovative. Don't understand its popularity, despite a good cast (cast improved for second season, but I doubt the scripts will be). But I only fitfully liked AMERICAN GOTHIC and the telefilms leading up to THE NIGHT STALKER were great...but I thought the series was a mangy dog. (It had an sfnal episode or two, too.)

Todd Mason said...

So...among the essentially (but not exclusively) comic series, I'll plump for MST3K and THE MIDDLEMAN, another one-season wonder, the best series ABC Family has commissioned and the best it has strangled in its crib.

Sadly, the version of NIGHT GALLERY that MeTV is rerunning is the syndication package, wherein the often ungreat playlets (in a series that ran dramatic segments of varying lengths in episodes that were sometimes 45 minutes long and sometimes 90) have been Very clumsily and even insanely recut to make them short or long enough to be 22-minute "half-hours" by themselves...one I caught a piece of the other day featured Larry Hagman, and not only had segments repeated to stretch it out, but also bits spliced in from one of Universal's other properties, one of the FRANKENSTEIN sequels. Perhaps augmented marijuana was in play during that editing session.

Todd Mason said...

Getting JOURNEYMAN on dvd will benefit both you and your library. Likewise THE MIDDLEMAN, though JOURNEYMAN first.

(The pilot for LOST IN SPACE was genuinely not bad, when I saw it last as a teen...but the series, particularly after the first season, was a clumsily campy mess, as all the Irwin Allen series were after BATMAN hit big...though the most insane episodes were probably reserved for VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA, such as the sentient alien puppet episode, with Vincent Price.)

pattinase (abbott) said...

The only DVD I own is the one you gave me. Oh, and IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT and THE WIGGLES.

Todd Mason said...

PRINCESAS, THE WIGGLES and IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT would make for a very interesting marathon. Or a very annoying one, depending on the disposition of the audience...

Deb said...

Re MST3K: My husband and the twins are going to see Riff-Trax doing "Birdemic." The movie (a real stinker) will feature Mike Nelson and others from the MST3K crew riiffing Mike-and-the-bots style on the action. As Todd notes, it's being piped to theaters throughout the country.

Patti--if you're looking for an MST3K to watch, start with the classic "Manos Hands.of Fate."

Anonymous said...

My 100% all time favorite scene in MST3K was when they did the early Roger Corman turkey about the Vikings and the Sea Serpents.

The Viking women led by Abby Dalton and the last remaining man sail off to find their lost men but are scuttled by guess what. They wash up ashore - presumably in England but it's been a while since I've seen it. The locals ride up and see the one guy and a lot of hot women and use one of my favorite quotes from Animal House:

"Do you mind if we dance with your dates?"

Jeff M

Deb said...

Followed closely by this exchange from the Joe Don Baker classic "Mitchell":

John Saxon: "How do you like your scotch?"

Mike and the bots: "By the quart!"

Todd Mason said...

MITCHELL was actually the last episode for Joel Hodgson till the reunion episode, Deb...Joel and the Bots...one of the best of host-segment sets, not least the reaction of the evils...

Todd Mason said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OtCYxWqXW6k

"Mitchell!P

Deb said...

Sorry! I've watched so many episodes, I forgot whether it was Mike or Joel in that episode.