The Top-Ten Worst Science Fiction TV Series of All Time
This is an entirely subjective list, but I’ve tried to be fair: I’ve excluded children’s shows such as “Jason of Star Command” and sitcoms such as “Mork and Mindy,” which, though terrible, weren’t even *trying* to reach the bar. Also, I’ve decided to take the series individually, and not take “Star Trek” or “Stargate” as a whole, since the quality frankly differs quite a bit from installment to installment. I’ve also decided to exclude anything pertaining to Superheroes, Fantasy, and any marginal shows that were not primarily SF, but threw in one or two genre episodes simply ‘cuz, ya’ know, “The kids today, they love the star wars stuff…”
10) Galactica: 1980 (1980) The original series (1978/79) was much better than most people remember, and the new series is surprisingly good, but man oh man oh man, this ill-conceived 1980 attempt to keep the franchise alive sans any characters from the original show, and degenerated in the space of just one episode from a time travel series to a show about child care in space for irritating space orphans, many of whom were the producer’s own kids. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galactica_1980
9) Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979-1981) This series was made principally to amortize losses taken on the production of the original Galactica series the year before, this hour-long science-fiction adventure show provided no real adventure, and not much in the way of science fiction. The thinking seemed to be that if they dumbed-down “Galactica” a bit, they’d have more success on their hands and, sadly, they were right: It lasted two years. There was lots and lots of bad acting, an irritating robot, a charmless male lead hampered by embarrassing scripts and lots of chicks in spandex. That part was pretty good actually. Things got even worse in season two when the show became an even-stupider clone of Star Trek, and they added an even-more irritating second robot. Buck Rogers Wikipedia article (And honestly, how can a guy who’s pushing 40 still be only an Air Force captain? Sheesh!)
8) The Powers of Matthew Starr (1982/83) Fresh off his Academy Award for “An Officer and a Gentleman,” Louis Gossett, Jr. Proved he had no freakin’ clue how to have a successful career by signing on to co-star in this ‘heartwarming family adventure series’ about an alien prince hidden in suburban America. Gossett wasn’t even the prince – he was the guy assigned to cook and do laundry for the prince, while the titular Matthew Star used his alien psychic powers to solve crimes and endlessly whine about his human girlfriend. It’s as though someone watched Mork and Mindy and said, “You know what would make this show great? If it were twice as long and not a damn bit funny!” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Powers_of_Matthew_Starr
7) Cleopatra 2525 (2000/01) A syndicated show thought up to keep the Kiwi production team employed after “Hercules” ended, it was essentially a riff on the Gil Gerard Buck Rogers series from twenty years earlier. Only this time, instead of Buck being a wisecracking overweight astronaut, now he was a mid-20s female exotic dancer who was cryogenically frozen following a botched boob job (really!) who wakes up in the year 2525, and immediately gets involved in a war between the last remnants of humanity and the Bailey Robots that have taken over the world. Now, on the surface the idea of playing up the spandex-babe aspect of Buck Rogers, and deleting the paunchy-middle-aged male lead entirely would seem like a good idea. Alas, no, it wasn’t. This was a great show for people who watched the 1980 Buck and thought “Damn, this is too gritty and realistic! I want something faker and less compelling.” 'oh, how bad can it be?' you ask. Well check this heinous crap out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwjR7IwmOtc And that was the theme song! It goes downhill from there! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleopatra_2525
6) Land of the Giants (1968-1970) Unquestionably the worst of Irwin Allen’s quartet of lowbrow science fiction series of the ‘60s (The others being Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Lost in Space, and Time Tunnel), the premise of this fundamentally misguided show was that a commercial space shuttle went off course and landed on a planet that was exactly like earth, but twelve times larger. Our not-at-all heroic cast and crew spent two seasons playing Jerry in an increasingly irritating series of Tom-and-Jerry like adventures. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_of_the_Giants on the plus side, however, it did star Deanna Lund, who was all kinds of hot http://www.skylighters.org/larry/deannalundwp1.jpg
5) Logan’s Run (1977/78) Imagine Star Trek with no Enterprise, just a car. Now imagine it with no alien worlds, just random backlot towns. Now imagine the Magnificent Seven of the original Trek replaced by just two wooden actors who were allegedly in love, yet shared no chemistry whatsoever, and an early sort of tumbledown version of Mister Data. There you have Logan’s Run, a show with not a damn thing to recommend it. Allegedly a spinoff of the 1975 movie of the same name (Which itself was pretty crappy, but at least had Michael York and a mostly-naked Jenny Argutter), the series actually changed the ending of the movie so they could justify the lame-ass premise of the show. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logan%27s_Run#TV
4) Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda (2000-’05) This show actually had a lot of promise in the first season. Allegedly based on notes Roddenberry jotted down in between orgies in the ‘70s, the show was actually created out of whole cloth by Robert Hewett Wolfe, who evidently approached Majel Barett about slapping Gene’s name on his concept so he could actually sell the damn thing. While low-budget and clearly derivative of the basic concept of Trek, the show had an apocalyptic outlook and was all about trying to rebuild civilization. Furthermore, for the first season and a half, the show managed pretty consistently to be unpredictable: while never great, it was interesting if simply because it never went where you expected it to, and it was clearly building to a huge climax. Alas, halfway through the second season, Kevin Sorbo (the star) got Wolfe jettisoned from the show. From that point on – literally episode 13 of season 2 – the show became an incoherent, unwatchable piece of crap that was so self-righteous as to make Trek itself say, “Damn, but you’re preachy!” Never quite able to decide on a format – one season they were establishing a new government, the next they were on the run from the government, one season they were mostly planetbound, sometimes the ship was mostly empty, sometimes it had a crew of thousands who never seemed to have anything to do – the entire thing collapsed in on itself and ultimately became yet another SF show that no one gives a damn about. Which is maddening because for a little while there, it really looked like it was going to be something great. Inexplicably, the damn thing ran for FIVE years! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gene_Roddenberry%27s_Andromeda After the series ended, Robert Hewett Wolfe wrote a one-act play about where *his* story was headed before it got shanghaied, and it’s actually pretty good. Had he been able to pull it off, it would have made Babylon 5 look like a minor family tiff by comparison. You can read that here http://web.archive.org/web/20060621045350/http://rhwolfe.com/Coda/Androm...
3) Space: Above and Beyond (1995/96) What do you get when a couple hotshot writer/producers from The X-Files decide they want to go solo and make their own show? You get Space: Above and Beyond, a series so ensconced in feculence and yet so expensive that it made people forget all about how Galactica had bled money in the seventies. The budget was between two and three million dollars per episode, and yet the story they chose to tell was about some twenty-first century fightin’ leatherneck infantry who inexplicably were also fighter pilots in a war against the amazingly boring “Chig” aliens. Uncompelling characters uncompellingly told, boasting of a complex backstory that was, nonetheless really dull, the show was all tease and no payoff. For instance, in one episode the Marines are given leave on a “pleasure ship.” Coolio comes in to inform the Marines about the nature of the vessel – that it is beyond the law, that it is beyond morality, that it can sate all their desires both subtle and gross, that they are welcome to avail themselves of all the sins and releases imaginable to man. Sounds pretty wild, right? And yet the inside of the pleasure ship seems to consist only of a country bar and one hooker. The whole damn show was like that. And as usual there’s just something irritating about characters who are ostensibly in the military, and yet behave in no way like anyone in any military ever. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space:_Above_And_Beyond
2 )Sliders (1995-1999) The basic concept was brilliant: a handful of people have traveled to a parallel earth – same time and place, different history – and have gotten lost. They’re trying to find their way back to their own version of Earth, en rout meeting strange variations of themselves and worlds with all kinds of crazy histories. That’s actually pretty amazing, and I’m surprised no one had tried something like that before. Unfortunately, the four main characters were pretty boring, and after the first thirteen episodes or so the producers seem to have completely run out of ‘parallel world’ ideas that were even remotely plausible, and so they started “Sliding” to worlds where, like, it’s 1996, right? And you have to shop all the time, and, like, there’s shopping malls that levitate in the air for no adequately explained reason, and, like, if you stop shopping for more than an hour, you’ll like be killed for adversely impeding the economy, n’shit, right? ‘Cuz we all know capitalism is like bad and stuff, right? Take it to the man! By the third season, the ‘alternate history’ premise had all-but-disappeared, and it became a completely incoherent adventure show (“They slide to a version of earth that has dinosaurs! Now they slide to a version that has constant tornadoes!”). The cast started trickling away from the obviously-sinking ship. In the fourth season it jumped from Fox to Sci-Fi, adding new characters and re-casting the lead (Sort of. It’s complicated, but not particularly interesting). A recurring menace for the series – it’s “Klingons” if you will – were Cro-Magnons from an alternate world where Homo Sapiens never evolved. These Cro-Magnons (Who looked nothing like real Cro-Magnons) were sliding from world to world, taking them over and eating the humans who lived there. On the one hand, the show suffered quite a bit from network interference and cast and budget changes in the later seasons. On the other hand, it suffered quite a bit from it’s inception simply because it felt like the creators of the show never quite fully understood the whole “Alternate World” concept themselves. But mark my words: someday someway someone will do a good show based on this concept. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sliders And the number 1 worst SF series of all time:
1) Earth: Final Conflict (1997-2002) Yet another series ostensibly thought up by Gene Roddenberry and produced posthumously. Unlike “Andromeda,” however, Gene probably really did think up a lot of the basic premise of this show. And, unfortunately, it shows. Premise: In the not-too-distant future, next Sunday A.D., aliens called “Talons” visit earth and bring all kinds of shiny new technological geegaws including teleportation. The world becomes a much better place for everyone, alas, the Talons are…well…it’s never exactly established if the Talons are evil and manipulative, or merely condescending and passive-aggressive. They sort of take over the world, but the world is sort of a better place for it, and they sort of do it without a use of force and their motivations are never quite explained. It’s all pretty squishy. There is a Talon who’s definitely the bad guy for a couple seasons, but it’s established that he’s more or less working on his own, colonel Kurtz-like, with no mandate from above. Then, the Talons are abruptly defeated and evicted from Earth and in the more-or-less completely unrelated fifth and final season, a new alien race, the Atavus, show up. Turns out the Talons were kind of sort of maybe possibly a little bit involved in a war with the Atavus, and once they left that opened up Earth for invasion by aliens who are flat-out evil, rather than merely annoying whiners. What makes this show take the cake for worst-ever is that there was not a reason in the world that anyone would give a damn about the characters or premise of the show in the first place, but this mere boredom and lack of vision quickly gave way to utter incoherence as the show began a nearly-legendary cast turnover. *EVERY SEASON* featured a new lead character who took over when the previous main protagonist was fired or quit in disgust. Entire character arcs were conceived of in seemingly minutes, painstakingly developed for 22 episodes, and then dropped abruptly, never to be mentioned again. This happened a half-dozen times! In fact, the only character to have lasted the entire run of the show was the main human antagonist. Somehow – presumably just because it had the Roddenberry name on it – this show managed to survive for five years.
And there you have it! Any shows I left out? Any agreements or disagreements? Please comment! As a footnote, I’d like to mention that I *really* wanted to put the X-Files on here somewhere, but had to leave it out because it involves the supernatural, and therefore is a fantasy/SF hybrid and doesn’t apply.
Sincerely, Republibot 3.0