My Favorite Sci-Fi series, Part II

Here is a follow up of my previous blog about sci-fi series that influenced me and/or made me think about certain topics differently. Below is the list from when i was around 18 untill now.

Star Trek: The Next Generation

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For me this show was magic, it had great characters, for that time pretty good special effects (certainly the last season) and some of the best and original stories i’ve seen. One that springs to mind is where Picard is trapped in a mind-prison where he experiences a whole lifetime without aging in the realword, that was a mindf*#k. Also the positive attitude towards society was hopefull and it often touched upon social issues like age, race and gender.

It also for me was the show when one of the leading characters was killed (Tasha), don’t know if that was unique at that time but it was for me. And who can forget the Borg who set the stage for the first STNG movie. The story-arc of the Borg was intense and had a big space battle at the end. So many things pop to mind but i don’t think when you watch it now that a lot of episodes are worthwhile. But in my mind it’s still one of the great sci-fi shows of all time.

Star Trek: Deep Space 9

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In the beginning this show was quite hard to get used to, not the enterprise, a wormhole, no ‘engage’. And i think the first few seasons had its ups and downs but also contained some of the best episodes of any show i can remember.

This show really took of when they encountered an alien race on the other side of the wormhole called the Dominion and set of the rest of the seasons which ended in a huge space battle which still looks great today. And the characters like Odo, O’Brian and Dax really grew on me.

Babylon 5

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This is a bit of a strange show in the beginning with characters overacting a bit and similair to the premise of Star Trek Deep Space 9. But what was great about it was the continues implicit threat of the ‘Shadows’, the complex storytelling and the use of religion, prophecies, politics, social and racials issues in relation to choices the characters make.

It also contained sort of good special effects as most of it was CGI (space scenes) which was new for that time. But it was very addictive.

Space: Above and Beyond

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This show only ran for 1 season and stayed with me because of its grityness (if that’s a word) and the constant threat and pressure the main characters were under.

The ending was sudden due to poor ratings and left the main characters, dead, injured or missing in action. It reminds me a bit of Starship Trookers without the Paul Verhoeven touch.

Farscape

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By far the weirdest show in this list and maybe in all sci-fi but once you got hooked it is a great ride. It starts of in a Buck Rogers-way with the main character getting stranded on the other side of the universe. Then it’s, sort of, all about getting back home with the help of the (living) Leviathan ship called Moya and it’s crew.

The quirky characters with their deep and rich backgrounds (and i had a small crush on Claudia Black) and the influence of the Jim Henson Company with the (large)puppets, made this a fantastic show and thanks to the fanbase this is one of the first shows that got a finale season after it got cancelled, in the form of a mini-series (Peacekeeper wars).

Stargate SG-1

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Stargate originally started as a movie with Kurt Russel and this show followed the story from the movie. It lasted 10 seasons (to many people’s surprise) i don’t think i watched every episode but the combination of Egyptian history/culture and the stargate which can take you all over the universe allows for fascinating storytelling.

Also Richard (McGyver) Dean Anderson as the main character was fantastic with his sense of humor, wit and leadership-vibe. The last few season saw two characters from Farscape make their introduction. Ben Browder and Claudia Black (still a small crush). Newer spin-offs never reached this level.

Battlestar Galactica

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When i first saw the announcement of this show i was hopefull of something good. When i saw the premier (of the miniseries) i was blown away. This reincarnation puts way more focus on social and political issues. The characters evolve during the seasons from likeable to hatable and back. I think a lot of people were critical because Starback was portrayed by Katee Sackhoff, but in my opinion she was perfectly cast. Edward James Olmos (for me stil the captain from Miami Vice) was a fantastic Adama.

With the threat of the cyclons (new style) looming around every corner the show created an intense atmosphere and focussed on the effect that it had on the survivors which form a society with upper, middle and lowerclass citizens.

The style of filming the space scenes, with the shaking camera view (which they got from Babylon 5) made it more realistic and the design of the ships was very well thought out without loosing too much of the original designs. Most critizism came with the ending of the show, i won’t say what but if you like the Lost ending, you’ll like it.

The Expanse

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I picked up the first Expanse book and i was hooked right away and read all of them as soon as they came out. So i was excited when the ScyFy channels made this into a show and it hasn’t disappointed yet. This show was also saved by fans and Amazon picked it up which is great because they can spend a good amount of money to make a descent show with great special FX.

It’s a bit getting used to when you’ve read the books but the cast is great and Thomas Jane as detective Miller is a perfect fit. The space scene’s are filmed in the same style as Battlestar Galactica with the shaky camera and the show is praised for it’s realistic use of physics. I just finished watching season 4 and is seems that each season it gets better with the cast really finding their groove. If you are a scifi lover, don’t miss this one!

Honerable Mention

  • Firefly: didn’t really know it after i saw the movie adaptation called Serenity but a fun, western, cowboy style series.
  • Falling Skies: an apocalyptic ‘after-invasion’ series following a band of survivors, it had it’s ups and downs but overall worth it.
  • 100: started out as a teen sci-fi show but has grown tremendously the last seasons. Hope they don’t prolong the show too much but end on a high note.

Writing this blog almost makes me want to get all the Blu ray boxes of the shows mentioned above and in my previous blog. But that is very expensive and unfortunatly they are not on any streaming service (yet). Furthermore three news items regarding this topic:

  1. I hear Amazon is making Larry Nivens’ Ringworld novels into a series but that’s been two years ago. The books are great and full of ideas so it’s a hard thing to do right.
  2. Battlestar Galactica is getting a reboot, which they say is not a remake but what it will be….we’ll see
  3. I am an avid Dune fan (just reread all novels last year and amazing how relevant it still is today with regards to environment and politics) so i’m hoping for a great Dune movie out later this year. In additional they are making a Bene Gesserit series that ties directly into the movie. There is a lot of material to draw from, hopefully they

It was fun to write this (and previous) blog, sort of a trip down (long and short term) memory lane. Let’s see if my kids will enjoy some of the shows when they get a bit older.

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