So this week I’ve gotten to wondering how the various Science Fiction television series of the last five decades or so stack up. I don’t mean “What’s your favorite SF show,” I’m thinking more along the lines of “Taken objectively, which series are better or worse than other series?” Interestingly, most people I’ve already asked this question to have answered “Star Trek” without hesitation. When I’ve asked them for a bit more information, however, an interesting Venn Diagram pattern appears:
* People who don’t actually watch SF, but have only heard of Trek and/or Lost in Space
* Trekies who are unaware of or refuse to admit the existence of other SF shows (With the exception of Lost in Space) because of their fanatical devotion.
If we eliminate all things Trek from the discussion, then the Trekies themselves become angry and confused, and wander off mumbling to themselves much like Democrats in December of ’00 and ’04, and the replies get much more diverse and interesting.
Why would I do such a thing, you ask? Well, because Trek is the 500 lb gorilla in the room, bitchslapping anyone who dares try to do things a different way. We all know Trek has established total name recognition akin to brand names like Coke and Apple, and like Coke and Apple it’s become a brutal force for oppression, driving its competitors out of existence with a combination of economic might and fanaticism (I say this while actually drinking a Coke right now, and my Brother-in-Law actually works for Apple. I‘m all kinds of hypocritical.), so you just have to accept that you’re not going to get an unbiased answer from them in the same way that you’re not going to get an unbiased answer when you ask a Christian, “Which religion is best?”
So after some careful consideration which coincidentally lasted exactly as long as it’s taken me to write this far in my little essay here, here’s how *I* personally would rank the various SF series and/or Franchises (A “Franchise” refers to several sequel series and/or movies spun off of a common root, for instance “Happy Days” gave us “Laverne & Shirley,” “Joanie loves Chachi,” “Mork & Mindy,” and the deservedly forgotten “Blansky’s Beauties” and “Out of the Blue,” as well as a Saturday morning cartoon called “The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang.” Likewise, “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” gave birth to “Rhoda,” “Phyllis,” “Lou Grant,” and that “Mary” TV movie a few years back [and in fact, the Mary Tyler Moore Show was originally conceived of as a spinoff of the Dick Van Dyke show, but that got nixed early on in development because they didn’t want her to be divorced and have a kid] So when I say “Franchise”, I mean the show and it’s sequels/spinoffs taken as a whole, ok?)
Firefly (Franchise, if only technically)
Doctor Who (Franchise)
Babylon 5 (Franchise)
Battlestar Galactica (Franchise)
The Prisoner (Which I guess, technically, is a franchise)
Star Trek (Franchise)
Yes, Trek makes the list, because if we strip away the hype and fanaticism, it *is* a good format, and it *has* done good stuff, but it has *never* been the best thing around, and it hasn’t done anything good in a very very long time (I myself stopped watching it about a decade before it finally got cancelled).
So I’m interested to know how all y’all would rate Science Fiction series? What’s best, in your mind? You can give me a top 5 or a top 10 or a top 3, whatever, I’m just interested to see how my opinions vary from yours.