September 19th, 2009
There are a bunch of good lists concerning science fiction tv over on wiki. I tend to post a lot about movies, but this time I want to post about space-based science fiction series on tv. It always seems like there’s at least one decent one, and sometimes more than one. I’m going to take my own biased look and rank them — there aren’t that many, unfortunately. And I might skip over a few deserving contenders. I find it hard to compare things like Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica with Red Dwarf, which is its own unique, cool thing and something different than a traditional space action show. I’m also ignoring Earth-based stories with aliens (e.g. Alien Nation, V) and those that don’t focus on ships in space (e.g., Stargate).
And I can’t put a great deal of emphasis on the science, as I usually do. Why not? Because essentially every tv series I’ve ever seen has pretty questionable science, although I will give bonus points to those that tend to do things right a little more often (e.g., the new Battlestar Galactica).
10. Star Trek: Enterprise. I’d really hoped this would be an attempt to reboot to a feel closer to the original series, with some swashbuckling and more aggressive attitudes characteristic of Kirk’s time, but no. It was really a revision of Rodenberry into the late Trek feel, that touchy-feely thing. Good at times, but inherently flawed I thought. I still think the intro song has the wrong feel.
9. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The Cisco and various alien things masquerading as religion, the Middle East allegory, were both strong and weak points. I did enjoy the series more toward the end with the storyline involving the Dominion.
8. Star Trek: Voyager. First season really sucked, but the show hit its stride with the Borg and that super species. Oh, and 7 of 9 was the hot, wasn’t she?
7. Farscape. Very interesting visuals and aliens, as well as trying some innovative things (remember that cartoon episode?). I liked it.
6. Firefly. The weird world-building and its inconsistency (both in terms of the science and culture) make this rank as low as it is here. Joss Whedon does interesting ensemble casts and character interaction, which makes this a winning series. Not wild about the intro song here, either, as for Star Trek, but the feel does fit Firefly a lot better than Enterprise.
5. Blake’s 7. Now, I haven’t watched this since college, but I remember loving it sooooo much! Cheesy special effects, but interesting long-term character development.
4. Babylon 5. Like Trek, the first season sucked in my opinion. I had to be won back, but I was, mostly, for some very interesting science fiction. I think this series was special for handling long story arcs and developing them coherently, and it was a new way of watching episodic science fiction.
3. Star Trek: The Next Generation. The first season or two, like most Trek, kind of sucked. In the end, however, TNG crew became almost as iconic as the originals. The Borg episodes are classics. This series commercial from the first season is kind of weird to watch.
2. Battlestar Galactica (reboot). The series made what I thought were missteps, but there was a level of gritty realism and really cool stuff that I have to rank it close to the top. It was just way cool too much of the time, and interesting and complex, both in terms of story and moral ambiguity.
1. Star Trek (The Original Series). Too iconic, ground-breaking, inspiring to a generation of geeks and scientists (like me!), not to top the list.
Honorable Mentions: Space Above and Beyond, Battlestar Galactica (original), Andromeda, Space 1999, Lost in Space
Which series do you think was the best? I guess we don’t really have a current one. You see my number 1 pick. What’s yours?